LEARNING GRACE

Grace, my character in “Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding” is an artist. She paints and sculpts in ceramic and uses a potter’s wheel and kiln and so I want to learn to do it. I used to paint and I’ve always wanted to learn to throw a pot—that’s what they call it when you use a potter’s wheel to make bowls, pots, cups, etc

Judy Zeichner is a Sagittarius like me only she is Dec 1st. I, like her son, am Dec 21st. She’s terrific and we really got along. She’s from Queens (“not The Queens” she said. “Just Queens.”) Came up to Ulster County in 2001. Knew she’d found her place when she mowed the lawn naked for the first time. (Her house is in the woods.) Imagine how good that would feel!! If I lived here I would study with her. She is a wonderful teacher and I really learned a lot in a short time.

In the studio of Artist Judy Zeichner who is helping me with the oil painting

Then I went from Judy’s to the potter’s studio of ceramic artist Brinton Baker. Again, a great guy who was a wonderful teacher. I could have stayed all night. I threw 3 smaller pots and a larger bowl and loved it. Besides learning a little about how to use the wheel and handle the clay (which I want to do more of), I learned a lot that is good for the character and how she dresses. For instance, it’s your pants and feet that get covered with clay, not so much your torso. Soooo, instead of wearing Grace’s interesting sandals, I should wear Crocs that can be washed. Since I am working outside I also need a visor or some such. All this will affect how I play my first scene when I am discovered outside working on my potter’s wheel. I want to go back to Brinton’s in August and glaze what I made cause I feel quite proud.

Learning to use the potter's wheel in the studio of potter Brinton Baker. That's a pretty large bowl to have thrown for a first timer. Those other cups to the left I also did.

My camera ran out of batteries or I would have also photographed his wife who is a drama teacher at the local community college. She and Brinton spent 4 years in Japan where he studied pottery and apprenticed. While he was doing that, she became the only American woman (and one of the very few women in general) ever to study and actually perform Noh theatre, an esoteric, ancient form of formal, ritualized Japanese theater…done wearing a mask, speaking ancient Japanese, moving in a highly stylized manner. Because she paved the way, some Japanese women who studied but not performed , got the courage to perform. That’s something to be proud of.

I also met their two daughters who went out with a young woman who is studying film at Bard College and works in the costume department of our film.

What this does for me, living here in the woods in between these very small towns, is give me a sense of what it was like when there were fewer people in the world and people knew each other.  Yes, there are problems here—like not enough jobs. But the people I have been fortunate enough to meet and spend some time with are really nice and interesting and warm—and creative…many artists up here, and I can see why!!

See you next time. It’s after 8pm and I have to go to bed.

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27 Comments
  1. That looks like so much fun!

    When saw the title of your blog I thought it was going to be very profound and spiritual – it is, in a different way – art is about as spiritual as it gets!

    😉
    Jenn

  2. You are truly one of a kind. How many people in their roles would go to that extent? Not that you likely care but I am impressed. You really seem to get attached to people you work with and your role.

    Take this as a complement because it is meant that way. This morning I had others looking at your blog. My grandfather says, “Oh my God. She still looks so HOT.” What can I say? hahaha by the way, he not a 100 or anything, he just turned
    60.

    Here is something on Nat. He researched the other members of the cast and your director by watching past work that each of you did. Maybe he will follow your lead and show the commitment that you do.

    Anyway, your blog is fantastic and I will continue to follow what you do.

    Bill

  3. I made pottery for several years — and found it to be very therapeutic. It is easy to get caught up and for time to fly once you hit your groove in the studio…

    Just wanted to say that is quite a bowl you’ve thrown on the potter’s wheel — impressive!

    You’ve also inspired me to dig out my paints that have been collecting dust 🙂

  4. Hi –

    Your post about working on a potter’s wheel reminded me of a question I always wondered…what you think of, and/or has been your past expereince with, John Denver. Seems like you could have been in the same circles for a period of time.

    In his later years, he had a nice song called Potter’s Wheel. I am including a link if you have never heard it.

    Best wishes for the film shoot.

    http://s0.ilike.com/play#John+Denver:Potter%27s+Wheel:810950:s38180526.10402578.18038282.0.2.139%2Cstd_8f7db452794647938771530a8fc6ad6f

  5. Well Jane, you did a great job for that pretty large bowl, thrown for a first time.
    Having earned my BFA degree in Drawing and Painting I feel , that actor and writer have that same connection to the world . Someone said: The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it.
    I may have wrote about meeting and talking to Actor about Art , dreawing painting etc. from the 1970’s on , the voice within.
    I can see your a natural, like your father in another time or life would have been a better than good painter.
    It a great area for studies, Art and Acting, I have only just started to learn form the years of processing information.
    Even with a masters degree in media and education, the learning something new in Art or expression gives me a real feeling of growth.
    Sounds like a great part, don’t forget I wrote a part that gives you a change in the way you express yourself or personified entity that has emotional progress of the characters during the story, just like a work of Art.

  6. You are so good! Your dad was an accomplished painter, so I guess this is another talent you inherited from him.

    Jane, I just wanted to let you know that Dave Farmer and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on Friday. I wonder if you remember that Dave worked for Ted as CNN L.A. and N.Y. bureau chief? We met many times at various events in those cities and in Atlanta. We have a couple of cute photos of the four of us at one of the Golden Boot galas. You and Ted and I have birthdays around the same time. I think he and I are the same age.

    Thanks for your wonderful texts and photos. You describe your adventures beautifully and with humanity.

  7. This is my first time on your website, This was quiet and experience. You are doing great with the pottery!!! That is really hard to learn, I am impressed. My first ones didn’t look like that, and really glad I don’t have any pictures of those.

    When does filming start? I had no idea how much work when into finding out about the character you are playing. Actually guess I never thought about it before. But I found your blog to be really fun, love the pictures and all the infor you handed out.

    Best of Luck with the movie and can’t wait to see at the theater!!!!
    Linda

  8. Nice pottery job, especially the big one – very difficult to do without it crashing! You are having so much fun!! When you dress in oriental hairdo, you look kind of Korean, with your expression in particular — very interesting films you are doing now.

    Of more social significance, the following is interesting from the NY Times today about simple economic incentives.

    “In another piece of progress against AIDS, a separate, large study in Malawi sponsored by the World Bank, and made public on Sunday, found that if poor schoolgirls and their families received small monthly cash payments, the girls had sex later, less often and with fewer partners.

    A year and a half after the program started, the girls were less than half as likely to be infected with the AIDS or herpes viruses than were girls whose families got no payments. The likelihood that the girls would agree to sex in return for gifts and cash declined as the size of the payments from the program rose, suggesting the central role of extreme poverty in sexual choices.

    “Maybe we can combine these behavioral and biomedical interventions,” said Dr. Tim Farley, a scientist with the World Health Organization involved in H.I.V. prevention research. “We need to pursue both avenues.” “

  9. Dear Ms. Fonda,

    We cannot thank you, and Miss Farmiga, enough for coming to Ulster County and filming this picture here. We are proud of our area and the wealth of natural resources it offers residents and visitors alike. We are also proud of our cultural heritage that dates back several centuries and yet is alive as ever in our artists havens like Woodstock, Kingston, Saugerties, New Paltz and others. And you cannot find an area more rich in American history than the Hudson Valley and Ulster County.

    It is an honor to have someone with your talents and appreciation for not only nature but how we humans interact with it here in our county. We hope you will continue to enjoy your visit and that you will come back often.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    Paul Rakov
    (born and raised in Woodstock and now the third generation of my family to live in Kingston)
    Director, Marketing and Business Development
    Ulster County Development Corporation

    • Well said Paul. I echo your sentiment.
      Jane you look like a pro doing pottery, I know your heart & soul are gliding effortlessly with the wheel.
      Enjoy

  10. post script.
    was thinking that Robert Redford Redford married his longtime partner, Sibylle Szaggars who 51 year old German-born artis, painter . Artist and actors do get along. Actor Sean Connery married to Micheline Roquebrune the French Artist and painter. I’m sure there is more these two women are professional artist and do well, with actors the quit space must be nice for the actors ,me thinks.

  11. Having dabbled in both ceramics and painting many years ago, I can really appreciate your first attempts being so successful! Like the others, am truly impressed with your ability to go smoothly from one project to another. Thank you for sharing these times with us. Two years ago I visited the Hudson Valley for the first time and recall sharing your feelings about the area that you describe so well. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie.

  12. I enjoy they way you capture acting as a collaborative art. Showing how you collect all the pieces of the puzzle is magical. You seem to be an excellent student as well as a teacher. Have you seen “I Am Love”?

  13. Thanks for sharing with us, Jane. Reading about the preparations for the film is fascinating. It would be great if you continued painting and throwing pots, after the film is over. Creating art can be a wonderful experience.

    You really have an incredible life. As a struggling actor/writer/visual artist in Toronto, your life is an inspiration to me.

    The pics are fantastic.

  14. Ms. Fonda,

    Judy, your painting coach, is my step-mother. It is so thrilling for me to see the two of you together. It looks like you enjoyed her as much as I do. She is one of a kind, and – as you point out – you were in great hands.

    I can’t wait to see the film – this looks like a wonderful role for you.

    All the best,

    Laura

  15. I’m impressed – in college I took ceramics and my first efforts were not nearly as good as yours…. go for it! We have a lively ceramics community here in Portland. My obsessions are glass and silver.

  16. Did you think of your Dad when oil painting?

    I still have an art magazine that featured his paintings. He was very talented.

    Happy to see this side of you too.

    Love reading your blog Jane.

  17. i think you are cooler and cooler by the day

  18. your pots are splendid !!…you have true artistic donation !!!! you play so different roles.Thank you for making us share all that.

  19. Jane technolog made people machine.Humanbeings have lost their fervour to live wholistically.Ancient people were more near to nature than the people alive now.

  20. Have followed you, exercised with you – over the years. Now I have moved back to my woods and built a home and planting gardens.
    All I can say is – you have the most interesting life of anyone I know of.
    You look happier then ever in your lifetime.
    I am happy for you and my heart smiles!!

  21. I’m excited to hear about the new character you will be playing in this new movie! She sounds so INTERESTING! I love the clothes that you will be wearing when you start filming…pretty and very colorful! Your gray wig is very impressive, and I think you look great in it! I like it that she will be painting and making pottery too! Neat lady!

    Your house in the film is SO attractive! I can see why you like it! The colors of the rooms gives them such a joyful, peaceful quality! I can see why you think you could live there! This looks like it is going to be a good movie! I liked seeing your new cast members! Hope you have fun working with them!:)

    Thanks again for all that you shared about your other movie! The pictures were fabulous! Enjoyed all the pictures taken where you were filming! One of my favorites was one taken behind you when you met with the French press. They were all gathered around you with their cameras, and there you were sitting very serenely as you were interviewed! It was such a great “behind the scene” photo!!! YEA!!

  22. Jane, our family really enjoyed you and your fantastic energy and grace at my studio on Monday. I’ll be in touch regarding the glazing process. Can’t believe both of our cameras had dead batteries…. hope to be there for the opening scene. Warm regards, Brinton

  23. Oh, I can’t wait to see the movie. Art is very good for the soul. I have a quote framed that came from my Auntie Irene who did pastels. “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso. Love the Woodstock photographs.

  24. I’m a weekend Accordian, great town, people and values. People work hard,close to the earth and respect for nature.

    The Baker family is fabulous and did you know Greta is true to her last name – a wonderful baker.

  25. This college art professor is VERY impressed with your first time wheel-throwing! I enjoy so much your blog as I have admired your social stands.
    Janet Hinton
    Ozark, Alabama

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