Being an artist of any kind means having a relationship to a particular medium, so it will not be surprising that there are different kinds of relationships that can be had. According to one theory there are eight basic kinds of love that each reflect one’s commitment, one’s passion, and one’s intimacy, and isn’t it true that being an artist is being a person in love, some mixture of passion, commitment and intimacy? So let us examine the different kinds of clay love to see how fulfilling and rewarding things are and ask ourselves the question, “Can we do more? Can we get more out of this relationship? Are we passionate enough? Are we as committed as we could be? Are we as intimate as possible?”
The first kind of love is actually its absence – Nonlove. Not only is there no passion for pots, no commitment to clay, but there simply is no intimacy with its art. The nonlover just doesn’t know clay, is unfamiliar with it, or has never even seen it before. Unfortunately the world is still full of nonlovers. Maybe we can do something about that, show them what they are missing out on.
The second kind of clay love is Liking/Friendship. This involves intimacy but not passion and not commitment. These are the folks who know pots, are the friend of pots but are not themselves potters. They simply don’t have the passion for it. They simply aren’t committed to it enough to get their hands dirty. They like it enough to buy other artists’ work but they will never be potters.
The third kind of clay love is Infatuated Love. This relationship is pure passion but lacks commitment and doesn’t have much intimacy. Given a little more intimacy this infatuation may blossom into something more, so this relationship is like a courtship, the first dates, the look across the crowded room. These folks are the beginning student. They have seen a potential new love and they are making that first approach, testing the waters. Phone numbers have been exchanged and they are waiting to see if things will click.
The fourth kind of clay love is Empty Love. This relationship is the arranged marriage, where there is commitment but no passion or intimacy. These relationships are sterile and frequently unhappy. The commitment is an ulterior motive, perhaps making pots because it is the family business or working in a production facility, but the person is not passionate about it. Their heart just isn’t in it. They can live without clay if it came down to this because its just a job to them. They are not as intimate as they could be because there is no interest in bringing the relationship to a different level. They go through the motions and never really explore more than what’s in front of them. They aren’t willing to give more of themselves to the clay and they are not interested in getting more out of the relationship.
The fifth kind of love is Romantic Love. This relationship is both passionate and intimate but lacks any lasting commitment. This would describe the clay majors in school who really love what they are doing, really learn to explore the clay as much as they can in the time they have, but then need to get a real job after they graduate and may never touch clay again. Their commitment to making pots can’t measure up to their passion and to the intimacy they have with the material. These are the potters who have fallen by the wayside, dropped out, and turned to other commitments in their lives.
The sixth kind of clay love is Companionate Love. This relationship has intimacy and commitment going for it, but essentially is a passionless bond. These folks have perhaps had it all at some stage, but through familiarity or just over time they seem to have lost the passion. They know the clay intimately. They have been making pots for decades, perhaps, and they know so much about pot making, but they just don’t feel the passion any more. They are committed to the relationship. It probably pays the bills. But this is a relationship that has lost the spark. There is nothing new and things just move along comfortably like a well worn shoe, just going through the motions.
The seventh kind of clay love is Fatuous Love. This relationship has all the passion and commitment but lacks any intimacy. These are the folks who have caught the bug. They are ready to turn their whole lives over with this new commitment. They just feel that passionate about it. But at the same time they really don’t know very much about clay yet. They have been hooked. A really great class or teacher has provided the spark and now they can’t get enough. They just have to make pots. Overtime this commitment will lead to much greater intimacy, but right now it is being sustained purely on the basis of passion and commitment.
The eighth kind of love is Consummate Love. This is the relationship that has it all, passion, commitment, and intimacy. These are the lovers who are passionate about what they do and they want the most from this relationship. They are the ones who will never settle for less and are continually exploring new ways of declaring their love. They go on dates with the clay and keep the surprises fresh and exciting. They are committed to keeping clay in their lives and can’t live without it: They wouldn’t know what to do and they don’t want anything different. And they know the clay intimately. They are so good with it that the clay dances on their fingers. They are such masters that the clay actually seems excited by their touch. There is nothing sterile or boring about this relationship. But of course this is the hardest to sustain. It just takes so much from us to keep the passions stirred at this level. And perhaps we lapse at times. Perhaps we sometimes lose that fever pitch of necessity. Perhaps we sometimes settle for less than we want. But if you have been there I believe you can always get it back. You can reclaim the passion. You can recommit. You can find new ways to be intimate that will become the foundation for years more of passion and excitement.
So lets do this. All of us who are committed, lets aim for more passion in our relationship. Lets aim for greater intimacy in new and exciting ways. Over the last few months I have seen several potters blossom into Consummate Lovers. They have taken on new challenges and their passion is a blazing star. Their intimate touch is an inspiration that lights up the darkness. They are showing us the way to true love. And don’t we want to be lovers like they are? Don’t we want to make the clay dance at our passionate embrace? Personally I have been taking a break from clay for the last few months, but I want that passion back. I want to get that commitment again. I want to express my intimate knowledge of clay in new and interesting ways. Now that I’ve written this I feel inspired to be the best I can be with the clay.
What about you? Do you aspire to be a consummate lover? And if you are already, can you help the rest of us find our way? Can you be the role model that helps guide our fumbling search for true love? Please share your story if you have one.