Art Inspires Art - the Benefit of Creative Community    Saturday, April 30, 2016

"She's Alway's Watching" Marcy LaBella 2016 Tea Bowl handbuilt 

I have always been involved in creative community, ever since my earliest years as an artist.  I have always been creative and I cannot remember a time that I did not make art, write poetry, play music. I have always been drawn to other people who are similarly creative and have been lucky to have a large ecclectic quirky bunch of friends .  I am always interested in what people are making, their process, what they are doing, writing, playing.  In my teens and 20's I belonged to a large group of young artists and musicians who wrote and played their own music. We put on our own shows, made our own flyers the old fashion draw, cut, paste and xerox way.  We did our own promotions and supported each others work. Some of us were also actors, writers, poets, painters and photographers - we turned out for each others openings, plays and cheered each others success's even the minor ones.

"Wisdom" Lois Eldrich and Lori Lapin in Deep Discussion 

When I moved to a rural town in my early 30's I felt lost. While I loved my old farmhouse, the living in the country and room to spread out; there were no other artists here. The nearest city had no such arts community and I had come from New Haven Connecticut a city who has a proud and vibrant arts history, art followers and lots of artists. For a while I joined a grassroots gallery co-op that was short lived but vibrant. We threw fabulous opening for our revolving gallery shows and our opening turned into block parties with live music, belly dancers and shenanigans.  It was a short lived though fun ride and was quickly folded as we lacked the funding to continue our mission.  I finally found a home at a 60 plus year old co-op called Wesleyan Potters where they had just three crafts Ceramics, Fiber Arts and Metal Smithing. I had recently gotten back into ceramic sculpture and started taking classes there - soon I found a very active group of passionate artists.  I had already been taking ceramics there after a huge break from clay and was re-emmersed in this second craft.  I was already working in clay for 3 years at Wesleyan Potters when I applied for membership and was accepted into the of the guild and co-op as a juried member in clay and in metals.

She's Always Watching detail

She's Always Watching Detail

I currently teach in both both ceramic sculpture and jewelry making at this wonderful community arts center.  The best part of belonging to a co-op is NOT the 24/7 studio access which is sweet I have to admit.  It really is the mix of people that come through the doors, the fabulous wealth of knowledge from the members, instructors and students and the community coming together for our many events.  As in all co-ops we do lots of work together to make our co-op run smoothly but the exchange of ideas, opinions(more then you want sometimes), creative energy, wisdom, infectious enthusiasm from others working in your medium make it well worth the effort. We are like a big (100 member) slightly dysfunctional but still affectionate family.  It's definitely a place I think of as a second home.

Co-ops are only one place to connect to other artists - next time I will talk more about places to  meet with and connect with artists in your own community and online.



Spring and the Season of Renewal    Thursday, April 7, 2016

Soar 16"x20" Mixed Media on Canvas Marcy LaBella 2016

Emerging from Winters Grip

Though I haven't exactly been hibernating,I am more than ready to come out of the winter, which I consider to be a cold and dark season.  I tend to keep a very busy schedule over the winter because I find myself wanting to tuck in and hibernate.  

I had a full teaching schedule this winter, 3 childrens classes and one fabulous adult class in ceramic sculpture.  I met some really wonderful women in my ceramics class and we did some really great work together.

I find that I need to re-committ myself to my blog posts and to being present here at least 2 times a month to update what is going on in with my own work and with what I am doing with my students. 

 Spring time is such a great time to re-committ to any spiritual and creative work.  I find that you cannot separate the two - creative work always comes from within and carries the deepest parts of ourselves and contains the spiritual whether we intend it to or not. Art and creative work such as music, poetry, dance, and performing arts are soul work and need continuous observation, feeding, tending, weeding out and re-seeding.

Nature Spirit Ceramic, cone 6, slips engobes Marcy LaBella 2016

Like a garden over winter, creatives have down times and periods of hibernation, rebirth and renewal.  Using these lulls to do necessary studio chores, sketch out ideas for the future and explore new materials leaves one ready for periods of what I like to call frantic art making. One important thing I have learned is to keep the work going even during down times, you cannot improve on nothing. Doing something creative everyday is akin to planting seeds.

Know that when you feel as though you are in a creative slump or a period of non-creativity, you are just like a seed, deep in the ground, germinating and getting ready to burst forth with creative life.





Making Art With Children    Thursday, April 7, 2016


"All Children Are Artists"

Pablo Picasso


        Gwenie and Grace free painting with watercolors - Exploratory Art K-2

When making art with kids I am acutely aware of how the precious gift of natural creativity is so present in their beings. Part of what I try to do is create a balance between developing real observational drawing skills combined with non-objective drawing and mark making to keep things loose and fluid. Beautiful fluid and dynamic marks, color and the ability to transfer feeling, movement and energy without drawing a particular object is just as important as careful rendering and can say just as much with equal value in my humble opinion.

Girl with a Flower by Iliana age 5 Exploratory Art K-2


In addition to this I believe that children, especially those in the early grades should be given an opportunity to work with a wide variety of art materials. Changing the colors, textures and different properties gives them a wide range of options to develop skills and find a place to develop likes and different ways of working creatively.


Mixed Media Portrait Exploratory Art K-2

Another thing that I always find so very important in my classes is to set aside part of each classtime for free drawing time.  This is completely unstructured time for kids to use oil pastels, markers or regular crayons to draw whatever they want on plain white paper or newsprint.  I try to start and end each one of my classes in this way. Why is this important? It is complete decompression drawing allows kids unbridled downtime to allow their imaginations to expand.  It is time to create fantastical monsters, beautiful princesses, mermaids and fierce army battles. It is a place to re-create conflict from the placeground or home in a safe, managable way.  Sometimes it can be sad, joyful and other times hilarious. Yes I love my kids structured projects - they listen, pay attention and boy can we really make some great things together. One time in a camp week I saw a three year old go from drawing nothing but scribbles to drawing simple faces from watching and copying her classmates during free drawing - how powerful!  As an instructor I always have to remember that art is also a time for introspection and  quiet personal development - even for  kids.  Sometimes my job is to just stand back and allow for that magic to happen.

Free Watercolor Painting by Gwen age 5 Exploratory Art K-2






The Daily Painter - My Morning Studies    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Morning Study - 12"x12" mixed media, charcoal, graphite, gesso, mediums, watercolor paper, ephemera Marcy LaBella 2015

Daily Painting?

"Dont think about making art, just get it done. Let other people decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art"

Andy Warhol

Daily art practice can seem like a daunting prospect and it can be easy to procrastinate about doing it if you believe that every piece you are creating has to be museum worthy.

However, there is a movement over the last few years of daily painters and daily art makers.  Web pages based on that concept, 365 faces per year challenges, web groups that promote and sell work of artists that are working daily and making smaller scale work. How far would your art progress if you made just one small project every day? I can tell you that you would quickly find that you will almost immediately be spending more time in the studio then you believed possible.

What a lot of people are finding is that committing to a small window of time and a small project each day - vastly improves their work. Small projects are do-able, give a sense of accomplishment, and it's easy to see progress over a short period of time.  You may not be as daunted when facing a 6"x 6" canvas as you are when facing a 20"x 20" one. The same goes for sketching, drawing and collage or any practice from writing, to sewing, to songwriting or any creative endevor.

It may also be easier to market and sell your smaller scale art.  While selling larger scale paintings might take longer and you may need to go through a gallery or second party - you can easily sell and ship smaller less pricey art through your own web store or etsy.  Small works can be digitally photographed and made into greeting cards and sold time and again.  Getting together with other daily practice artists to sell together is getting more popular. Many groups and web pages can be found online to help you promote and sell your work such as The Daily Paintworks a website dedicated to promoting and selling the work of daily painters.

Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part - try setting aside just a half hour to draw, paint or collage and see what unfolds in your personal practice.













Giving Back    Monday, November 30, 2015

Wesleyan Potters Donation 2015 to the Wadsworth Atheneum Festival of Trees

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 

600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 278-2670


"No one has ever become poor by giving" Anne Frank


Tis the season as they say and even in the world of non-profit art organization it's time to remember to give and support each other's missions.  Each year the Wesleyan Potters creates a Christmas Tree for the Wadsworth Atheneum's Festival of Lights tree sale fundraiser.

 Our crafts people create ornaments, a topper and a tree skirt.  The trees are auctioned off by the museum to fund their programs and facility.  This year I was asked to create the topper.  I was a little pressed for time and the studio was already closed...but I agreed.  I decided to do one of fiber and upcyled some brocade fabrics, swarovski crystals and wire to create a tree topper.  The entire thing is built up on a tomato cage armature that has been covered in quilt batting and covered in fabric and beaded.  None of the tree colaborators had been in touch be we all came together with a gold theme and the tree looks fab!  


Don't forget to check out all of the beautiful trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum this season!






Wesleyan Potters Annual Sale    Friday, November 27, 2015


             Wesleyan Potters Annual Sale 60th Year 2015

There is a lot to be said about those who create and those who buy and appreciate hand made hand crafted items.

On the creative side I can say there is an inner motivation and creative force that continuously propels my work forward. I feel a strong drive to create work, share ideas with other artists and to teach what I have been developing with other people.  Less often we talk about the people who appreciate, love and purchase our work.  It is important to bring them into our dialog because without their input and support our art centers and studios would not be self supporting. It is as important to find fullfillment and happiness in owning, using and living with art as it is to create it - it is a symbiotic relationship.

Each year Wesleyan Potters the co-op I belong to completely deconstructs it's studio and turns itself into a huge gallery. This year is our 60th such celebration. This is no small undertaking and takes place over a period of weeks - it is an amazing transformation. 

Please join us for our 60th Annual Sale!  This year I have Ceramics, Jewelry and Cards in the sale...see you there.

350 South Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457 860.347.5925





Making Art With Children    Thursday, October 15, 2015

Not only do I love teaching children especially the kindergarten through 2nd grade level I normally work with...I just really find their art inspirational.  Kids are just so free and expressive about creating art at this age, they have no judgement about mark making, color choices and they work with complete abandon.  It is very magical to watch their process which is completely and totally uninhibited. The regularly tell me how great they are at art which makes me giggle and of course I always agree with them.  I see so many adults who are terrified to do anything without help,  without asking, or without an instructor hovering over them.  Kids can't even wait for the instructions before they are ready to dive in.

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