Tag Archives: Pattern

Meet the Artist in Residence: Betsy Foster

Betsy Foster, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of February and March 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Betsy some questions about her work and studio practice:

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artist in her studio

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Henrietta, New York (about 35 minutes west of Clifton Springs).  I’ve been making artwork for around 15 years now!

In 2011 I graduated with my BFA from Alfred University, and in 2019 I graduated with my MFA from The Ohio State University. My concentration for both fine art degrees was ceramics.

I just moved back to the western New York area this past summer when I finished my Master’s. In addition to my studio practice I teach as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Fredonia.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My practice revolves around the manipulation of ceramic material and carrying out repetitive actions to accumulate multiples. I am drawn to the tactility of clay, of leaving marks in the surface whether they be my fingerprints or that of a tool. The surfaces of my ceramic sculptures and paintings are usually abstracted patterns like grids, lattices, or polka dots stretched or overlapped. I change these patterns on the surfaces to create something different each time.

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Pinnacle Pair, 2019. ceramic, 5 feet x 4 feet x 2 .5 feet.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Nearly every ceramic form I build starts out as a series of sketches done in my studio, a sort of planning process. Two-dimensional sketches become three-dimensional form. I sketch the piece again after it is completed, continuing that cycle of sketching and building, each time abstracting and changing the form, pushing against its specificity. My sketches originate from fuzzy thoughts, or flashes of memories steeped in nostalgia. I’m tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings, sketches, and ceramic forms can exist together.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For my time in the residency, I want to explore the relationship between my paintings and ceramic forms. Having gone the better part of this year without a kiln, I’ve been creating paintings with freeform abstract swatches of color. My work from early 2019 and late 2018 dealt with purposefully distorting patterns across a surface, but with access to a kiln once again I am interested to see how my time working solely in paint has influenced how I glaze ceramic forms. My plan is to create ceramic pieces that have painting counterparts. Being back where I was born and raised in Rochester, NY for the first time in many years has everything steeped in nostalgia. I plan on tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings and ceramic forms can exist together, merging surface textures and colors, as sources obscure and abstract in the back-and-forth of two-dimensional paintings/sketches to three-dimensional ceramic forms.

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September Display Case, 2019. ceramic sculptures and paintings installed in a hallway case. roughly 10 feet x 3 feet

 Q: Do you collect artwork?
Besides work from a variety of mediums from friends of mine, I have a collection of ceramic cups, mugs, and plates. As someone in the ceramic community who used to solely create pottery, I have a huge appreciation for handmade cups, mugs, plates, etc. With a few exceptions, I only use handmade ceramic to eat off of! I have gotten most of it from The Clay Studio’s gallery, they are located in Philadelphia (but you can also order online!) NCECA, the annual ceramic conference, is also a place I’ve picked up a few of my favorite pieces. For me, there is a sensitivity, a contemplation, and an awareness present while using handmade objects every day.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I want to say my hands, but I think that’s too cliché. I’m going to say a banding wheel. When building ceramic pieces, I need to be on all sides of it and being able to spin the piece around on something has probably saved my body from aches and pains! Alternatively, for bigger work a dolly from the hardware store (so I can put a large wooden board on wheels to move around) has definitely been a life saver!

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That Pink Painting, 2019. Acrylic paint on canvas, 3 feet x 3 feet.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I would say anywhere that I’m traveling where I haven’t been before. If I’m in a new city I usually make a quick stop at a museum or gallery. I frequently drive around for concerts, and I love to make an overnight trip so I can pop into a museum in the morning before a drive back to give me a lot to reflect on during the drive. My more recent favorite was The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. A second runner up response would be the museum I used to work at – The Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have such an amazingly huge collection that they rotate frequently so if you stop in, a lot of the galleries are different than that last time you were there.

Q: What’s next for you?
I’d like to get a kiln to establish my own studio here in western New York so I can continue to create ceramic pieces in my studio practice. And I’m hoping to continue teaching!

Q: Where else can we find you?
Website: betsy-foster.com
Instagram: @betsy__foster

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Cylinder Composition, 2019. Ceramic, brick, acrylic paint, 6 feet x 5 feet x 1 foot.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I stumbled across a quote by Henry Adams a few weeks back that struck me as indicative to my approach to art making. Adams said, “Chaos was the law of nature; order was the dream of man.” This precarious point between the two extremes is where I like my work to dwell.  

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While I will occasionally work in ballpoint pen and oils, my true love is colored pencils. I love the range they provide from soft layered colors to sharp bold edges. I love the simple buttery depth they can create and the complex layers of color mixing they enable. I love that despite my years I have put into the medium, I still learn something new about them each time I draw, like an old friend divulging new secrets.

My greatest expense and favorite obsession is trying out different brands, and experimenting with using them together. My favorite combination is using the Caran d’Ache Luminance with the Prismacolor Premier. The Luminance can pack a punch with their ability to layer, maintain color integrity, and won’t wax bloom like the Prismacolors. Yet, the Prismas have such a wide range of colors and play very nicely with other brands.  

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I often start a piece without any clear direction. I’ll be intrigued with an object, the way someone is holding their hands, or a conversation, and I will start with a rough sketch, working my way slowly to the final product. I don’t necessarily have a clear concept of the symbolism in my work until I have put more hours into it, like it’s a new friend I’m getting to know.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

Nearly all of my work deals with the contradictions found within the human condition. I strive to find meanings and marriage between the two opposing forces that push our physical and emotional boundaries from one extreme to the other. In the past, I have primarily worked with the human form in some way, creating a visual commentary on the precarious emotional space in which we sometimes dwell.

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See No Evil

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Flight Plan

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For the past few months I have been making a slight change of direction from mental space to physical space. I am interested in how we interact with the space in our homes; the ways in which we fill the space, the complicated relationship we may have with the objects we keep, and the ways in which our emotions and memories for a space can change due to the external forces that dwell within our walls.

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Beneath

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My work often includes patterns as both a stylistic and symbolic choice. Patterns can be both predictable and improbable, stable and changing. We search for patterns to make sense of the world around us, they allow us to make familiar predictions, and interpret the connectivity between points. Patterns can provide reassurance in unknown situations, yet they can also create confusion at their break down. This point between familiarity and confusion is where I like my work to inhabit.

You can follow my work on Instagram @skywardagain or on my website, mandiantonucci.com


Mandi Antonucci is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jillian Cooper

I spent my early childhood growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire and then moved to Lubbock, Texas where I remained for 20 years.  I earned my MFA with concentrations in Ceramics and Metalsmithing/Jewelry from Texas Tech University in 2015.  Currently, I am living in Plano, Texas where I work at Collin College as the Ceramics Lab Coordinator.

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I enjoy using lace in my work because it can be found embellishing everything from tablecloths to underwear.  It can be innocent, seductive, outrageous, delicate, timeless and trendy. It appears on babies, brides, entertainers and grandmothers.  The incorporation of lace allows me to simultaneously represent a variety of associations.

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I have only recently began using plaid in my work.  It started as a suggestion from a friend and I ran with it.  The more I research it, the more I enjoy using it much for the same reason I use lace. Its broad spectrum of use and associations from historic family tartans, to the lumberjack, to the school girl leave so much room for interpretation

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“Plaid Mug” featured in The Cup, The Mug exhibition

I use Laguna Dark Brown boxed clay. I start out with a simple slab built cylinder.  I slip and score the seam and use the overlap as part of my design instead of smoothing it out.

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When the cylinder is formed I use it as a template to cut out a rough circle for the bottom.

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Thick slip is painted over lace on the slab that is going to be the inside bottom of the mug.

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When the slip is no longer tacky, I peel away the lace.

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The bottom of the cylinder is slipped and scored and carefully attached to the bottom.

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The excess slip around the edges is wiped away and the remaining clay is pushed up against the cylinder creating a lip around the bottom.  The basic cylinder shape is gently formed into a softer edged form.

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I use a rubber tipped tool to divide the surface into an area that will have lace added to it.  The area without the lace is pushed out slightly more from the inside.

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Again, thick slip is painted over lace and allowed to sit until it is no longer tacky.

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The lace is peeled away and any excess slip is wiped away with a rubber tipped tool.  I use a drill bit to remove clay so that the stitches are recessed into the clay and not just sitting on top.

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Small coils are rolled out and pressed into the holes to create the stitches.

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When the clay dry, I sketch out a (very) rough plaid pattern.

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Three coats of underglaze are applied, then it is bisque fired to cone 08.

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After bisque firing, a clear or celadon glaze is applied on the interior.  The lace and stitches are waxed and a clear glaze is applied over the outside.  I then fire to cone 10 in reduction.

My plaid cups are still in their early stages of experimentation and development, but I am excited to see what they grow into from here.  You can find me and my work on Instagram @toberninejilly or on my website at www.jilliancooper.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see the mug shown above by Jillian Cooper in our current exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels” (juried by ceramic artist Peter Pincus, exhibition runs through January 6th).