Knowing when to say . . .

I was able to spend some time in my clay studio tonight before my hands become too cold. While modeling the clay in my hands I was reminded of a certain aspect of the artistic process that I’ve yet to write about on this blog.


A few more of the small works I’ve been crafting — these still wet clay — forms inspired by clouds, the idea of icons and the clay itself.

To borrow a cheesy tagline, “know when to say when.” This is a straight forward principle but one that’s not always taught. It’s easy to overwork a painting or a sculpture, turning a successful artwork into more work or ruining it altogether depending on the material. It was the material, clay, that reminded me of this tonight. It’s said again and again among artists, but you have to respond to the medium.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

2 Responses to Knowing when to say . . .

  1. Mo-Coffee says:

    So true. I’m often telling my students, “you’re clay is tired.”

    By the way I think it is possible to overwork a piece so much it comes out the other side and is beautiful again- it’s really being somewhere in the middle that seems lifeless.

  2. Mary says:

    My favorite works have been the ones where I’ve “done” the least, and let my tools and materials speak for themselves.

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