Meet ceramic artist, John Makowski…
I am so excited that you contacted me! Your ceramic work is truly unique and beautiful. It is obvious that your inspiration comes from a special place.
I knew there was something special about clay the first time I touched it when I was 12. I got that tingling feeling you get when that someone special is near.
Where can people find you and your work?
Facebook under John Makowski
You can find my work at: Chatham Arts Gallery 115 Hillsboro St. Pittsboro, N C
Legal Aid of N C 959 East St. Pittsboro, N C
New Branch Chiropractic 120 Lowes Dr. Pittsboro, N C
Caldwell Banker Real Estate 1600 Franklin St. Chapel Hill, N C
Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Lending 6011 Fearrington Rd. Chapel Hill, N C
Cambridge Hill Assisted Living 140 Brookstone Ln. Pittsboro, N C
Offices of Marlyn Grubbs PHD Carrboro N C
The General Store West St. Pittsboro N C
What has been your process of getting to where you are now in your artistic career?
I took as many art classes as I could in high school and wanted to go to Art Center or Woodbury Art College in Los Angeles to immerse myself in the art world. Instead I went to a community college for 2 years and then a 5 year stint in the Navy where I got a well rounded education in electricity and electronics.
After the Navy I ended up in San Francisco in the early 70’s and worked a lot of construction jobs while living in an artist warehouse called Project Artaud. It was there that I found ceramics to be a joyous occupation. I found a production ceramics studio run by John Carlos Lopez who taught me about glazes, firing, clay bodies, and mold making. John is a master in clay and in the 4 years I was associated with him I got to be proficient in all these techniques.
I eventually moved to Sonoma County , north of San Francisco, where I finished my BFA at Sonoma State University. At this same time I was starting a landscape contracting company and had 23 people employed with a warehouse, 6 trucks, tractors, and all the equipment to create an award winning landscaping company. That lasted for about 20 years until I hooked up with an internet business and retired at the ripe old age of 50.
I was able to buy 60 acres in the foothills above Healdsburg, 70 miles north of San Francisco, and raised wine grapes. I had a 5000 sq ft shop building to house all of the equipment needed for the vineyard, and started to create a ceramic shop in the same building. My first project was 100 very colorful fish, swimming together to create an aquarium. I hung them on a large wall in my home and had a 4th of July party for 200 of my friends. Over 60 of the fish sold that day and my dream of selling art came alive.
It was in that shop that I started experimenting with colored minerals and glazes…drying them and running them thru a coffee grinder and applying them to wet clay to create a unique look. I started using print making techniques to augment the colors and create landscapes, figures, and animals. For over 10 years the techniques I used were a training ground for the work I do today. I still use the minerals and glazes on wet clay, and my attention has shifted to ancient cultures and their symbols.
Finish this thought: For me art is…
For me art is in nature, in every blade of grass, flower, and mineral. I feel the Divine come thru me every time I enter my shop. My rational mind has nothing to do with it…I am the tool of God and what comes out is new and exciting. As the tool of creation I am given the credit for the piece and I give the credit to Spirit. The messenger of self illumination is welcoming us to the world of the invisible where life in its infinite forms and formlessness exists. It enables us to soar above the mundane and broaden our awareness beyond the visible horizon of our everyday life. Thus we soar with Spirit, guiding us to develop and recognize our oneness with what we see and what we do not see, the magical journey home; to embrace our sacred cosmic identity. Being a messenger of the invisible is an honor.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the original artists who lived 20 to 30 thousand years ago in caves. They watched the animals around them and painted them on the walls of their caves. They dragged old downed trees into their caves and propped them up against the side using it as a ladder. They probably had someone hold a shell filled with animal fat that was on fire for illumination, then with a scrap of animal hide dipped in mud or a charcoal stick drew these animals with amazing detail. I like to think I use mud to create my work while using the same minerals to decorate the piece.
Can you tell us about the subject matter and symbols you work with?
My subject matter is ancient cultures and their symbols, the latest is the symbol of “om” and one of the cultures that I love is from the island of Bali…hence the Bali Om.
Your work is truly inspiring! Who has inspired you?
Some of the people who have inspired me in today’s society are, John Carlos Lopez, Ed Cristal, Elizabeth Quant, Kay Armstrong, and of course my muse Claudia Makowski.
Are there any tips to living a creative life that you’d like to share?
To live a creative life I just need to focalize and express the desires of God. An artist’s success is based on trust that inspiration is continuous. The more I create, the more there is to create.
Trust certainly is key. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
“Inspiring Artists!” will be an ongoing series. It will run as long as there are inspiring artists out there wanting to share their stories. If you are an artist and would like to participate please contact me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!!
Join us again next week for a look at the inspirations behind fused glass artist, Jenifer Chappell.