By: Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer
For many people, crafting a project with an unfamiliar medium is a task too vague to consider. To Paisley Stewart, a senior art major, it’s considered a challenge. In her piece, Life Surrounding, she used cyanotype on porcelain, a technique she hadn’t used before this piece of art. While Stewart’s career is more focused on photography, learning a vast amount of ceramic techniques is her passion. She recently found interest in using a cyanotype on clay for a project in class. She’s very interested in knowing what’s on the rise in the art community.
Stewart’s work focuses on a light or personal expression. She stated that her work is supposed to convey the mark of nature.“It captures the beauty in everyday life,” she said. Her work conveys an appreciation for the Earth and in turn is also able to express herself. She developed her appreciation by growing up near Kennebunk Beach, an area that ultimately inspired her style. She sees the connection between man and nature and uses her work to embrace and further emphasize the relationship.
Stewart said that she started exploring her passion by enrolling in drawing classes, but later found that she had a much stronger connection with ceramic and photography arts. Although she hadn’t taken high school art courses, she found a quick liking to the field. In 2017, after discovering her passion, she became an art major. She prefers ceramics over other mediums because it’s such a hands-on process. You only take away what you put into the piece and since it’s a lengthy, meticulous process, it requires a great deal of patience and attention. Her group piece, Life Surrounding, went through a three step process which took a total of ten hours. She compared the clay to a living body of constant change, a product that’s malleable until its final firing.
One skill that she has learned through her career is that obstacles cannot discourage an artist. The clay changes so frequently that it’s difficult to predict the final outcome. As Stewart said, “perfectionists shouldn’t be discouraged by imperfection.” She put an emphasis on this, applying it to ceramic pieces that have already been completed. “Even if it shatters on the floor, you just have to move on and be patient,” she said. Like any craft, you will only improve as you practice, so newcomers shouldn’t be discouraged.
After she graduates in May, Stewart hopes to expand her photography business by providing both standard photo shoots as well as freelance photography. Since she recently acquired a kiln for her home, she hopes to further develop her home studio so she can effectively create impressive pieces. She also plans on promoting her own business as Paisley Violet Design. The business helps promote her work as a freelance artist and also promotes her other skill sets in the field. She already has several social media pages for the business and she plans on having a website for the business within the next six months. Until then, Stewart plans on featuring Life Surrounding as well as other projects in the USM Art Gallery which runs from April 11 to May 1.