Sunday, October 14, 2007

One goal that has yet to be accomplished.

As I look back over a few of the goals I made for myself at the beginning of this year I see that the enthusiasm I started out with doesn’t seem to last. One goal is to post more on my blog, keep it fresh and learn more of the tech stuff everyone seems to know but me. This seems to be such a challenge!

When I think of the blogs that I enjoy reading (and there are some great ones out there), I wonder how did they learn about widgets, rss feeds, alt tags, etc? How do they keep their posts full of enthusiasm and keep us coming back for more?

Although I am a watercolor artist, one of my favorite blogs to read is that of ceramic artist Cynthia Guajardo. I find her posts to be both informative about her work and her personal life – just enough, yet not too much – she even shares some of the technology side of blogging! Recently I stepped out of my usual field of watercolor and became a reporter... asking Cynthia numerous question's. Because she is such an inspiration to so many of us “blogging artists”, I’d like to share with you these queston's and answers with you.

Cynthia Guajardo
An interview with Cynthia Guajardo

Nancy: First of all, thank you, Cynthia, for taking the time to answer these questions and allowing me to share them with others. I know you as a ceramic artist. Has your medium of choice changed over the years or have you always known ceramics to be the medium for you?

Cynthia: I always knew that I would love working with clay even before I touched it, however, I am absolutely seduced by other mediums. Every so often, I flirt with painting and I took 2 print making classes in college which I adored. In the end, the mediums converge and I have been exploring image transfer to clay since last summer.Nancy: What is the allure of clay?
It's a plastic material and able to be used to make virtually anything from functional pottery, sculpture and even jewelry.

Nancy: Did you receive formal education in the ceramic field?

Cynthia: Yes, I have a BFA from the University of Southern Maine with a concentration in ceramics. I graduated later than most - I was 38 years old when I finally received my diploma. To tell you the truth, my real education continues today as I work on my own with no benefit of an established, fully equipped studio.

Nancy: What part of the ceramic process do you enjoy the most?

Cynthia: I definitely enjoy the creating and making part of working with clay. Working with clay is physical; yet at the same time when I am in the zone, it's very meditative. I am pushing myself to concentrate on the glazing and decorating aspect of working with clay now that my forms are pretty solid. Glazing is often an after thought for many ceramic artists, but it is what makes the work spectacular in the end.Nancy: Where do your draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from so many places and people. I love architecture, nature, color and art history. I see patterns everywhere and am also inspired by the handmade movement happening right now. It's fantastic to make something knowing that a little piece of my energy is transferred to the recipient. When I see or touch an artist made object or art piece, I wonder about the maker which is a lot more meaningful than a mass production piece out of a factory.

Nancy: Are you inspired by other artists, if so, who?

Cynthia: I'm inspired by so many other artists including a painter that I did my internship with in college, Richard Lethem At 70+ years old, he still paints everyday, teaches at the university and is vigorously pursuing show opportunities. I have also met a lot of really talented artists in cyberspace who I might never have met otherwise, including yourself.

Nancy: I admire how you have kept your blog looking new and fresh. Have you always been a "techy"?

Cynthia: Oh, God no! Just 6 years ago, I had to learn how to use a PC for the art history classes I was taking. I didn't even know how to use Microsoft Word to write a paper. That being said, I'm not afraid of technology and am able to figure programs out. What's the worst that can happen? Major computer Crash - oh wait that happened to me last year and I was so proud of myself bringing the old gal back to life.

Nancy: Can you tell those of us that are "technology challenged" how we might learn to take better care of our blog?

Cynthia: Well, that's the hundred thousand dollar question and I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I try to post at least 3 times a week with fresh material. I also try to keep up with new social networking sites that I think might be beneficial and interesting to me. I read a few other blogs and have learned a lot by looking at how other bloggers make it fresh and exciting for their readers. If they have a new widget, I check out the site to see if it's worth implementing. Most important of all, I respond to all the comments left on my blog and I reciprocate with a visit to the commenter's blog if they have one. My goal is to make it very easy to navigate my blog so that people aren't lost and frustrated.
I might add that I am never at a loss for words and I actually enjoy writing. I have a blog post in draft mode where I write ideas and add links for future posts. I have also added a tracking counter on my blog to see how people end up on my blog. It's important to add relevant tags to your posts so that people can find the information for which they're looking.I might add that many new opportunities have come my way since I started blogging 1.5 years ago that wouldn't have happened otherwise. It's in my interest to keep my blog alive since it receives so many more hits a day than my website does. Blogs are inherently dynamic whereas, websites are more static - both are, however, necessary in my opinion for an artist today.

Nancy: You keep your posts enjoyable and fun to read. How do you decide what to share about your work and life and is there a strategy to this?

Cynthia: I don't have any hard and fast rules about what to share. I am an open book at this point, though I do keep my husband, daughter and other family and friend's identities a secret for safety reasons - unless they have a public Internet presence. I also try to keep my blog PG-13 because my daughter sometimes reads what I'm writing over my shoulder and my mom reads daily. Sometimes, I wish that I did a better job at censoring my posts, because I'll write about almost anything. I will occasionally edit a post that I wrote the night before if it feels offensive. I don't know that there is a strategy per se, but I do think familiarity breeds recognition. And, that goes back to the initial impetus for starting my blog - to market my work to a broader audience.

Nancy: Thank you so much Cynthia, for taking the time to answer these questions. I know you keep a full schedule with your own creative work, family and now returning back into the work field. I know that myself and many others will be better artists because of the insight you have shared.

Cynthia: Thank you, Nancy for the opportunity. I enjoyed "talking" with you and reading your blog the past year.

Please if you haven't been to Cynthia's blog, you can see it here


  1. Enjoyed the interview Nancy :) I think it's a constant challenge to many bloggers to keep their blog fresh and fun. Cynthia's is one of the best one's out there.


  2. Thanks for the spotlight, Nancy, it's quite an honor. Also, thanks to Jafabrit for her nice comments - she's one of the blogs that I visit often. Her work is fresh and she keeps it fun and interesting to read what she's up to in and around Yellow Springs.

  3. Thank you Jafabrit. Cynthia's is one of many great blogs out there that I enjoy reading... as is your's. Some of us, (me) just do not have that gift of gab to be able to communicate so well to make our blogs a great read. Fun and fresh... that is the key.

    Cynthia ... you deserve the spotlight. Thank you for all the great reading pleasure you give us.

  4. Great interview! I read Cynthia all the time too...and it's real nice to get a little more insight to her. Thanks!

  5. 'll echo what the others have said.
    And now, I'll have to go back and read your blog, Nancy.

  6. hmbt and dinahmow ... thank you for stopping by. Cynthia's blog is such a nice read. I think I'll keep trying to improve my art and my blog ... cynthia is a great roll model for so many of us.

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  8. Well you must be doing something right nancy because I keep coming back :)