In the 1980’s I began my career as a graphic designer while living in Denver, Colorado.  The world of advertising  and design was a fast paced and exciting place to be.  I loved the business but was also interested in many other  facets of art.  Denver was a nurturing environment for an artist, and offered many fine-arts programs, so I decided  to venture out.  I signed up for a course in clay at a near by ceramic arts school.  Motivated at the time by the  idea that I might be able to make a set of dinner plates, I decided to try my hand... why not?  It turned out to be  a life changing experience.  After attending only a few classes I realized I was smitten with the clay.  It  seemed I had what Veryl Rember Steiner, my instructor, had called ‘a natural ability’.  Captivated, I began to  research and read about 20th Century Ceramics and realized the vast possibilities. There were so many artists to  admire and so many creative paths to take.  And even though I learned to throw on the potters’ wheel, the dinner  plates were quickly forgotten.  It was clear that using clay in the pursuit of hand built art was my passion.  Within  a year I had purchased a kiln and was working in my own studio.  With a deep desire to continue my education, I  took many more classes and workshops with wonderful instructors.  Among them were Master Ceramicists Nan  and Jim McKinnell, Robert Compton, Dave Shaner, Robert Turner, Rudy Autio, Jim Leedy and Peter Voulkos.  My  skills were also accelerated by my background in graphic design.  As with all art, a sense of color and balance is  central to the creative process.       I was enthusiastic... I was living!  After spending many hours in the studio, the pieces began to take shape and I found myself involved in  juried shows and exhibitions. At show openings I was able to observe individuals and see their reactions and  connection to the clay.  It was very revealing but made me realize there were improvements  and changes to be made.  I began building objects that were a lot more lifelike and included  bits of whimsy.  To my delight, this work evoked even greater curiosity and investigation, and  usually brought a smile.  What I had actually employed was a technique called trompe l'oeil,  the art of fooling the eye, and it was a turning point in my journey.  Later on, my work took  on a more serious tone as I began to tell more complex stories.  I developed vignettes containing multiple clay  objects with bits and pieces of mixed media.  Grouping and presenting them together as a tableau, they conveyed  a more complete story.  Often, a number of these tableaus were built on a single theme, and they became ‘works  in a series’.  There were a number of series including a fanciful look at The American Cowboy Boot, historical  events from the American West, Life during the WWII years, and later a series on my personal reflections from  childhood.  These collective ideas combined with my growing skill at trompel'oeil, helped to set my work apart  from others in the competitive area of figurative sculpture.  Over the years, I worked and exhibited in many spaces as I relocated across the country from  Denver to New England and then out West to the mountains of Northern Arizona.  But with my  most recent move to the desert area in Southern Arizona, my journey with clay came to an end.   In this extremely dry climate with abnormally high temperatures, the clay dried too quickly and  refused to give me the hours of malleability I needed to build and detail the work that had become my hallmark.   Disheartened, but trying to be optimistic, I started to look to other media.  My first inspiration came from the old,  fragile, original adobe structures that are located in the heart of Tucson.  Influenced by their appearance, I used  the soft tones of pastels to convey their serenity and beauty.  Pastels however, soon gave way to paints, as the  arid openness of the desert brought added inspiration and the vision of a more abstract way of life.  Now using  acrylics, mixed media, and the experience of an ever expanding view ... my journey continues.  The Journey April Bascom ARTIST