An Artistic Challenge

I mentioned last October in a post “Putting Yourself Out There” that I was participating in a conference called Synergy 4. The International Polymer Clay Association ( holds a conference every few years that is focused on the advancement of polymer clay arts and artists. It is truly amazing. A professional conference format with general sessions and breakout sessions and talks ranging from art as a business, new techniques, where to draw inspiration   . . . . you get the idea.

Okay, so they didn’t accept my idea for a session topic “The Evolution of an Idea”, it was a long shot.  However, one type of breakout session at the conference is called a Challenge. If you sign up for this session, you are required to develop a challenge for yourself (with the guidance of the session chair) and then present it at the conference. It could be about almost anything related to polymer clay . . . . like developing a new technique, . . . . . working on a new body of work, . . . . . . trying an experiment, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Well, of course, in my year of pushing myself ‘out there’ I signed up! I was able to use my ‘evolution of an idea’ and challenged myself to create a new body of work based upon inspiration from Kandinsky, specifically his ‘Bauhaus period’, early 1920’s to about 1930-ish. I love the graphic geometric shapes, the layering and use of color. They are joyful and fun. Makes my heart go pitter-patter!

But drawing inspiration from someone or something versus mimicking them are two different things. And I wandered around for several months trying different approaches. Getting frustrated. Starting again.  Then went completely off-course with other projects . . . can you say ‘tangent’?  But what is squirrel, I mean girl, to do??

Below are some of my creations on my meandering path.  While none of them are fabulous, I did learned something from each one.

But a quick glance at my calendar, about mid-June brought me to my senses and I realized I was quickly running out of time . . . . I revisited my challenge and tried a different approach.  I stepped away from the ‘mark making’ and focused on color . . . . lots of color!


The session chair, Christine Dumont ( has been wonderful. She is an accomplished artist and creative teacher (see previous post on “making improvements”). She reviewed my past work, we skyped, she reviewed work in progress, we skyped again . . . . she took her job seriously . . . so I damn well better take my job seriously!!

Her guidance was perfect, a nudge here . . . a verbal kick in the pants there . . . . a balance of pointing out my strengths and weaknesses in a very constructive way.  This type of coaching/mentoring is invaluable.  I feel like I received the deal of a lifetime . . . . . for FREE!  Thanks Christine!!


I am very happy with my direction and new body of work. I continue to experiment and make adjustments . . . some work . . . . some don’t. But the journey has been great! More confidence. Improved technical skills. And new work to share. I couldn’t be happier!! And I love the flying squirrel logo for the back of my work.

So if you ever have an opportunity to participate in a challenge . . . . do not hesitate! What you will get out of the effort is much, much more than what you put in it.



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4 Responses to An Artistic Challenge

  1. Harriet Rudoff says:

    I have watched this evolution of your journey and all I can say is WOW. Such growth in such a short time. I can’t wait to see what you do in the future. Congratulations


  2. Christina says:

    Oh … my … gosh! Your final pieces are stunning. The colors are amazing and I have no idea how you create these wonderful items. I can’t wait to see them in person. See you soon, BFF. XO


  3. Raquel says:

    How absolutely stunning. These should be in a gallery. Brava


  4. Vicki colburn says:

    Kley and Kazinsky in the making. Inspired and Inspiring. What natural talent you have. Color, composition, technique and execution are sublime.


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