Jacquline Hurlbert, studio visit Portland

On our recent trip to the Oregon Coast and Portland, we were able to visit with 3 figurative ceramic artists. I had contacted several of my figurative artists and four were able to have us visit, Sara Swink and Kicki Masthem as we drove into Portland and next day, Jacquline Hurlbert, figurative ceramic sculptor and painter. This was our final studio visit of the trip. It’s wonderful to be connected to this stable of wonderful artists, makes our travels all the more interesting!

Jacquline lives in a lovely neighborhood with wonderful large trees, a mix of small humble homes and big houses. Her house is nestled in a large well-treed yard.

Her studio is around the back of her house in a little outbuilding.

These intriguing new pieces in the kiln feature two figures in narrative groups, something that is new to her and quite interesting.

The wide gown of this large piece is covered with tiny textural elements, creating a busy texture at first glance and then revealing themselves upon closer inspection as tiny faces.

Jacquline has created some ceramic sculptures with twigs which she calls the wicker stick boys and girls but these were out at her galleries at the moment. All the artists we visited said the same thing, that their best works were not in the studio but we certainly enjoyed what there was to see, which was LOTS! My blogs about studio visits are real life visits and show the wonderful creative chaos of artists as opposed to the beautiful perfection that you will find on their actual websites, which I encourage you to visit.

Because bringing out all the materials to deal with each stage of work is quite space and labor-intensive, she works in big chunks of time either on the making process; hand building the forms in clay or the embellishment stage where she works in her own distinct way, using a mix of underglazes, paints and other patinas to bring her unique surfaces to her figurative ceramic sculptures. She does not keep a strict technical diary but rather lets each piece evolve in its own organic way to completion. This allows the work to really come to life under her fingers, keeping her work very fresh.

Death Dawns Her Tutu, a flat wall panel waiting to ship out.

These little faces and hearts are her bread-and-butter work, much of which she sells in her Etsy store. She uses just one basic mold for the faces and then all the other embellishments are hand applied and unique.

This work in a frame is something new for her. She refers to them as in chambers instead of framed artwork, referring to the French definition of chamber as a private place.

This long blue ceramic piece is called Saving Goldie. It hangs on the wall, is about 50 inches tall, price about $1200. My husband thought we should take this one home with us but we held off temptation, only just….

Pick Your Poison. Jacquline enjoys high graphic content as well as the highly traditional figurative works. She enjoys having fun with the different types of expressions so she can go back-and-forth, keeping her work fresh and not burning out in just one style.

Behind the ceramic studio is another room where she paints. Colorful canvases hung on the walls in various stages of progress and completion. Her worktable bulged with all kinds of paints and brushes, a wonderland of tools!

Jackie works with themes. These above are eating matches, others include cages or twigs. She does not take commission work.

This print by a friend nestles in the corner of her painting studio with other little art shrines and tools.

Jackie has been here in this location for 14 years. She has a BFA in ceramics from Nebraska and an MFA in sculpture and ceramics from California. She has been working in sculptural ceramics since the late 1970s.

Today after our visit she will go and spend some time with her 14 year old niece a mile away, just getting over having her wisdom teeth taken out and then be back in the paintings studio this evening. Life is busy….

Her two kilns midrange firings deliver the bonus of heating her workshop in the winter making it a nice warm place to work. She slow fires because of the complex structure of many of her sculptures. Seen above is the ceramic artist’s best friend, the ubiquitous giant roll of bubble wrap and a lovely large piece, a work in progress.

Jaquline thinks we are on a fairytale vacation, being able to wander in the nice weather and visit with artists along the way. She and her husband took a similar trip to Nelson, the art capital of New Zealand. They stayed in a B&B and every day just took visits to artist's studios and had a delightful time.

Jackie does not run any open studios in her home studio but has collectors come for private scheduled visits much like our own today. Her work is in more demand not less as the years move on. She is blessed and plagued with a brain that does not stop. It challenges her to meet her own expectations.

Her husband Steve Eichenberger creates fine art tiles, ravens and crows in a composite material. These sell in galleries, gift shops and on his Etsy store.

Steve’s large ceramic rabbit sculpture in the backyard garden. The backyard garden is new since this last year. She has a recognized natural backyard that she has spent the last year rescuing from invasive species like one and a half feet of ivy and other invaders to replace them with natural indigenous species including 70 ferns and vine maples, creating a good natural habitat for birds and bees. It is a delightful tranquil slice of nature.

This charming glider bench was found on Craigslist.

The little skulls are cats, nutrias, birds, bear, seagull. Over the years, she has picked them up on her family's farm in Nebraska where she grew up, and other people have given some to her. She has brought them out of the box where they have lived for many years and now they have their place in the backyard to go back into nature.

Wild ginger and violets created natural ground cover. The wild ginger flowers hang underneath the leaves and little ground critters pollinate them just by walking along. She likes this idea that something wonderful and mysterious is going on underneath the surface, whether in her garden or in her artwork.

This little oven sitting outside is for Steve’s artwork, drying out paper pulp materials he does not want to deal with inside.

What an inspiring visit to this imaginative artist’s studio and garden! Thanks Jackie so much for making time to have us visit!
Jacquline Hurlbert

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