ARTIST INTERVIEW: Rebekah Miles
Artist: Rebekah Miles
Rebekah Miles is primarily a painter using a clay slab as her “canvas.” Many of her pieces – an assortment of plate shapes and vessels which she molds by hand – are interpretations of images that appeal to a sense of place and beauty, such as an antique loteria set (Mexican bingo) from the 1800’s, and a California native plant identification book. She wants to make sculptural and functional pieces that feel like contemporary heirlooms.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now.
From the time I began painting ceramics, I have been trying to tell a California nature story, which fortunately feels like an endless well of creativity. There is such a wide range of inspiration around us- antique rose varietals, flowering cacti, birds, stone fruit, tropical fruit, wild boar digging for sand crabs on the beach (no, I haven’t seen this but I want to)..we have a smorgasbord in our land of mild seasons! I am always honing in on my favorite motifs to recreate as timeless pieces for my collection.
What criteria do you use to evaluate your own work?
When I’m evaluating my finished pieces I look for a balance of quality and freedom in the form. My work is high-fired in a gas kiln using underglaze pigments (which is like gouache or watercolors for ceramics). Even though many of the pigments are more vivid with low-fire ceramics, I choose the varied results of high-fire because the clay and pigments meld in an earthy richness.
Do you have a daily working routine? Can you describe it?
I have an every-other-day working routine from 8am to noon..I take my tea and my podcasts and get right to work. Whether I’m hand-building or painting, I don’t procrastinate! I find other time to work too, but this is the core of my schedule. It goes without saying that my boyfriend/life partner is a potter, and he does a great deal of the heavy work for me- he fires my work and all that goes into doing that.
How do you define success in your art or craft, or alternately, what does failure mean to you?
Failure to me would be letting my fears keep me from moving forward on my desired path in life and work. A big success (and fear) for me was quitting my day job! I did it because I was about to have a baby and it no longer made sense to work away from my home. I have been busier than ever with custom orders, and I feel more fulfilled! I have everything I dreamed of- making my art and my own family and home.
Photo credit Arna Bajraktarevic