Marcia Hovland’s artwork has a way of making people feel happy.
“People do say they make them feel good,” says Hovland, adding that she finds inspiration from storybooks and everywhere. “I make a lot of one of a kind’s. They’re all differently painted. I have some characters I develop and use them over and over again – kitties, bunnies, people – I’m making my own little world with the kinds of things I gravitate towards.”
As part of Second Saturday, Hovland will demonstrate how she paints on bisque and greenware to make her creations 11 AM-4 PM Saturday, Oct. 14 at Pewabic. She’ll share how she selects clay for its different effects and brushes that help her paint the intricate details, avoiding dragging and fuzziness.
“I’ll tell them tidbits about the brushes I use. You need a good brush that holds paint,” explains Hovland, who prefers a Winsor #1 and often paints using the lids of the many glazes and underglazes she uses, adding a few drops of water to the paint.
Those who aren’t comfortable with brushes – Hovland gracefully maneuvers hers like a pen – can incise or scratch designs with a pintool and using wax resist on the greenware, rubbing it black with underglaze. She also employs a pintool to hold beads, turning it as she paints, or glues beads onto a ceramic plate to secure for glazing and firing.
“I try to teach students how to let the brush flow; how to get the underglaze line more refined,” says Hovland, explaining how the smaller, detailed pieces often build to bigger mosaics.
These days mosaics make up much of Hovland’s work, following a process that begins with her carefully spacing out her beads and small ceramic characters. She applies yogurt-thick dark grout over the mosaic pieces, later washing and lightly buffing the piece. The mosaics take multiple forms including paperweight-like half orbs – a friend dubs them “life buoys” for their charm – as well as frames or tiles Hovland creates and fills with mosaic pieces.
“I had made beads for a while and I thought this would be a neat idea,” she explains. “It’s another way of trying to do something other than a plain tile.”
Mosaics are nothing new for Hovland, who with fellow ceramicist Laurie Eisenhardt was behind the community-created Royal Oak Public Library mosaic that began in 2010 from scrap materials that remained from artists that participated in the annual Royal Oak Clay and Glass Show.
Hovland’s connection with Pewabic began in the early ‘90s when she enrolled in several tile classes. Before long she began to teach jewelry-making and hand-building classes at the pottery and opened a studio and gallery in Royal Oak in 1998, which moved to its current location at 415 E. 4th Street in 2003.