"My life is full of mistakes. They're like pebbles that make a good road."
This is the second in a series, "not a biography" started a few weeks ago. You might remember that the first artist I featured was Frida Kahlo. (Frida Kahlo: this is not a biography)
Beatrice Wood (1893-1998), is an American ceramicist and sculptor who lived to 105 years old. As shown in my portrait of her, she was an elegant woman who loved big, bold jewelry and later in life, her colourful saris. A bit of a bohemian, Wood probably disappointed her aristocratic, socialite mother by (among other things) wanting to be an artist after her parents had sent her to finishing school.
Wood was a very headstrong young woman who disliked the fact that her mother had hired a chaperone for her while she studied painting in France. Eventually, her mother sent her to study theatre and Wood appeared on stage in Paris with Sarah Bernhardt. Wood later admitted that she went along with the acting to earn money to get away from home.
Her life continued to be very unconventional for the times. She fell in and out of love with several men living with them and marrying one man to try and escape her mother's influence.
But I chose her for this post because she is proof that we need not give up on creativity later in life, in fact, quite the opposite. Wood's last twenty-five years were her most productive years. She stopped working at 104. Her work is found at the Beatrice Wood Centre for the Arts in Ojai, California.
But this is not a biography.
Below are selected quotations of this incredible American potter's way of thinking of herself as an artist, and as a woman.
"Over and over, I'm on the point of giving it up."
"I never meant to become a potter. It happened very accidentally...I could sell pottery because when I ran away from home I was without any money. And so I became a potter."
"First of all, I'd like to say here the fact that I'm not naturally a craftsman has made me work very hard."
"Do be true to yourself, whether it's bad doesn't matter. The important thing - you have to copy while you're studying. And culture is - each of us - is like one pearl added to another to make a chain. We each contribute to the other. And that's all right. But once you're on your own, do that which comes from within. And I feel this very strongly."
"Those who are afraid to love deeply miss out on one of the rewards of existence."
"And then, of course, most potters, they go in for earth tones and subdued things, and I like color."
"You know, God, the power that makes life, whatever it is, had just to make two things, masculine and feminine, for all this mischief. And made them so there is this entirely different point of view about love and sex."