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Thanksgiving Pottery Teaser

Hope Everyone is having a happy and healthy this Thanksgiving holiday. The pandemic is going strong here in Kentucky, so things are a lot different from normal.

I have some new porcelain pottery that I can’t wait to show off (and sell) to you all. I believe that pottery should be experienced in person. You need to pick it up to TRULY know whether or not it is the right pot for you. I’m going to wait until things are a little safer before i invite you to visit my front porch, but you can follow THIS LINK for a sneak peek at the latest pottery:

Pottery / Pottery 11/25/2020 | Ken Swinson

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Exploring the 25 mile radius from my house

exterior of the poston school house museum in fleming county kentucky

I’ve lived in this area longer than anywhere else in my life, and I’m still surprised at how much I DON’T know about the world directly around me. I love maps and travel, and recently calculated the 25 mile (driving) radius from my house.

google map of 25 mile radius from my house

I know a lot of the people and places in this circle, but there is still a LOT I don’t know. I have decided to start fixing that!

I started at the bottom east corner, just a little east from wallingford at the top of park lake mountain. There I discovered a treasure you won’t see on google maps.

photo of the Poston School Museum in Flemming County Kentucky

The Poston School House Museum!
It’s a historic schoolhouse from the 1800s, lovingly restored into a little museum.

interior of the poston schoolhouse museum in fleming county kentucky

I am a lifetime learner, and am forever grateful to the public schools and teachers who shaped my mind.

sketches of the poston school museum in fleming county kentucky
Some of my quick pen and ink sketches of the schoolhouse

Moving forward, I’m going to try to stay in my little 25 mile radius; to travel, explore and get to better know the place where I live–through ART!

outhouse with moon painted on door at the poston schoolhouse museum in fleming county kentucky

Please share if you know any places (on or off the beaten path) that would make a good subject for an artist!

Stay tuned for more!

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new stamp!

I take a lot of pride in hand carving and printing my woodcuts and linocuts, and worry that people who aren’t familar with printmaking don’t understand what they are looking at. I designed a new stamp to put on the back of all my notecards.

rubber stamp that says 'hand carved and printed in old washington, ky'

Now instead of just my website, there’s a visual cue to illustrate the unique process that goes into the work.

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Carving porcelain – cardinals

Hi Everybody! I have been carving my first batch of porcelain cups; using RED colored slip. To honor Kentucky’s state bird, the cardinal. This video shows how the process works.

Stay tuned to see how they look after going through the kiln. Thanks for everyone for watching, your encouragement and support! I’m so happy to be back in the clay studio!

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new brayer and sheep dog linocut at the log cabin print shop

photo of log cabin print shop in Old Washington kentucky
Greetings From The Log Cabin Print Shop!

We have a new brayer at the log cabin print shop!

linocut of herding dog with sheep on a traditional press

 It’s a heavy duty piece of equipment; with a 2 1/2″ diameter.  Giving it a much wider roll out. I can print almost 3 prints without having to re-ink the brayer.  The roller surface is rubber, which is MUCH more durable than the craft brayers we have been using. 

How do you like the print of the dog herding sheep?  You can get a better look at the linocut, with information on how you can add it to your art collection here:

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Plein Air Painting – downtown Maysville, Kentucky 31 October 2020

An old warehouse in Maysville, Ky was recently demolished, giving us a new view of downtown.

plein air easel setup in front of panoramic view of downtown maysville kentucky

October 31st weather was sunny and cool, so I loaded my paints in my car, to try to capture the view. 

It is a big, wide view, and I wanted to capture it all!  I used 2 9×12 panels to create a diptych of the panoramic view. 

plein air underpainting by ken swinson of downtown maysville

The closer we get to the winter months, we don’t have nearly as much light in the sky, so I had to race against the setting sun to capture the view.  I am inspired by the impressionist tradition of painting directly from life, without the aid of photography.  It forces me to use loose brush strokes to capture the essence of the moment. 

kentucky artist, Ken swinson, plein air painting view of downtown maysville and the ohio river

Another one of my favorite things about working from life, is being outdoors, and a visible part of my community. It can get lonely when I spend a lot of time alone in my studio. My friend, the photographer, Lorraine Marcella stopped by to chat while I worked, and I had her take this snapshot with my camera to document the painting.

work in progress plein air painting by kentucky artist, ken swinson subject maysvile kentucky

This view is so new and interesting, I could paint at least 10 more paintings from this spot. Hopefully, they don’t start building soon.

The church steeple on the right was just a little too big, so when I got back to the studio, I fixed it!

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Porcelain Test Tiles

I spent much of the summer throwing pots, and learning how to work in porcelain-a beautiful, translucent clay, that requires a little bit of extra care and a lot of patience.

triple beam scale for weighing ceramic material

I had to take a break for a few months, so that I could do some glaze testing…and here are the results!!!:

finished test tiles for ceramic porcelain glaze

I FINALLY think I have a recipe for BLUE!!!  The blues I was used to with stoneware were too fluid on porcelain…the colors had a tendency to slide around. 

mason jars with colorful ceramic glaze

I also have a decent RED, ORANGE and PURPLE!

The YELLOW I was hoping for was a little less vibrant that what I wanted, but it’s a nice toned color that will pair nice with some others. I’m still working on a GREEN…I have learned that a glaze recipe that doesn’t include zinc helps it stay a little bit brighter.

raw materials for ceramic glaze

I’ve put these tiles through a stress test: freezing them, then dropping them into boiling water ( a few times)

unfired test tiles for porcelain glaze

The glazes all fit, so I’M BACK IN THE CLAY STUDIO!!! Hope to have new pots soon!

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Throwing pots on a Rainy Day

An exciting thing about live video is that you never know what will happen, and there’s no way to edit out the warts and bloopers that are part of real life.

I haven’t been in my pottery studio for a while, and thought it would be fun to broadcast live while throwing pots and listening to cincinnati’s classical music station, WGUC. After listening to a beautiful piece by composer, Robert Schumann, DJ Elaine Diehl talked about how the composer struggled with mental health, and how music was an important part of his life. Reminding US that during this pandemic, we can think about Schuman and his struggles and music, when we have OUR mood swings and challenges.

After a few minutes, while still broadcasting, facebook sent me an alert, threatening to stop my broadcast because I was playing copyrighted music. Almost as if on cue, my mood went from happy to rage, and I almost said a few cuss words, while ranting about facebook’s lack of a social conscious.

I took the video down, because that vibe is not the kind of thing I want to spread among my friends (or to anyone), but I think the story is worth sharing, because, like everyone, I am dealing with maintaining mental health during the uncertainty of the pandemic….lately, art (and listening to WGUC public radio) have been a saving grace, just like music was for Robert Schuman. I hope you are finding and embracing the thing that keeps you healthy and happy right now.

Another moral to the story, you never know what you are going to get when you watch those live videos, lol! My apologies to anyone who saw me acting like that.

And here’s a sped up and muted version of what you missed…the pots actually came out pretty good!

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Blue Cat In The Tree – Work In Progress Video

Hi Everybody, it’s ken from the log cabin print shop, and today i’m going to start a new linocut.

Right now, I’m going to start carving my tree, and let’s see how it turns out! I’m working in a size that’s a little bit new to me. It’s 6×8″ which is a little bit bigger than a notecard, but it’s not so big that it would take me days to do all the carving. I like that it’s big enough, i can get some details that I can’t get in a notecard.

I’ve already worked all the composition out, so it’s a meditative process to just follow the lines and to cut the design into a block of linoleum. I’m working on a theme of a tree with birds and cats. I’d like to have 4 new linocut prints that all relate to each other.

Keep checking this post for updates. I’m printing the blocks right now, and will be able to share them real soon!

UPDATE: here they are in their bright blue glory!