For Myrtle Beach artist, grant is not just about the money

Artist Lisa Blayton received a South Carolina Arts Commission quarterly grant for professional development and participanted in the recent Artists U gathering. The next quarterly grant deadline is Feb. 15, 2014.

From Horry Independent News:

It wasn’t just about the money.

Getting a financial award is always nice, said Lisa Blayton, a porcelain artist who lives in Waterford Plantation.

But the generous grant she got from the South Carolina Arts Commission and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund was about more than the dollars.

“What was really important was that someone thought my art was special enough to support it,” she said.

This wasn’t the first grant Blayton, who’s studied under artists from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Germany and the United States, has gotten.

But this one took her to Nashville, Tenn for a three-day conference with 120 other artists.

Blayton and her husband Kevin, a city engineer in North Myrtle Beach, have four adult sons.

The four pottery artists who demonstrated and discussed their skills were each women over 50 who made Blayton feel as if they were talking to her personally.

“It was exciting to see the porcelain that was being created by these women, and to see them all being successful at their age,” Blayton said.

It was encouraging, she said, because there are times when she feels like she’s getting a late start.

With her children grown, she described herself as being on ‘Lisa time’ right now.

“I feel like I’ve graduated, I don’t have to cook monster meals for four boys and a husband, we’re not on a rigid schedule and I have more time for art now.”

Her home studio is filled with her favorite things including hats that had been her grandmother’s, a nutcracker that belonged to her father, and a walking stick her grandfather used.

Being among those treasures helps the artist relax and think creatively.

With more time than she used to have for her art, she’ll often spend two or three days a week painting, and then “do nothing” for a couple weeks.

She actually makes her own porcelain, using cotton fabric and liquid clay called ‘slip.’

Blayton said she probably wouldn’t have attended the Altered Approach to Clay Conference in August, had it not been for the financial grant she was given.

“The conference had nothing to do with painting, but everything to do with pottery,” she said.

Blayton, a native South Carolinian with a business degree from Clemson, left the banking industry years ago to paint.

For her last banking job, which involved audit work, she interviewed in an orange suit.

Two weeks later, her boss asked her to wear pinstriped or navy blue suits to work. The artist, who loves color, knew then that banking would not be her life’s work.

Her art, which she sells through Inlet Queens consignment shop in Murrells Inlet, is.

In addition to creating art, she’s also teaching it to a 14-year-old girl.

“Like most artists, I started with florals, but this little girl doesn’t like flowers so we’re doing animals and started with a frog,” she laughed.

Blayton said that involves “the same artistic principles for composition and design and color tones, but you get a real different aspect when you have to learn chemical reactions and firing.

“So,” she added, “it’s a little bit of science and a little bit of physics when it comes to loading the kiln.

“We even incorporate history, so it’s a very comprehensive class. It’s not just about artistic skill.”

Blayton will attend Artists U in Charleston, one of 30 artists chosen from 70 state applicants. That seminar will not be about a specific art form, but about what Blayton called ‘the business of art.’

“It will help with marketing and business strategies geared to artists.

“We don’t have a whole lot of inventory and sometimes we’re thought of as a luxury as opposed to stores that sell shirts or pants,” she said.

The artist is all trying to start an after-school art program at Trinity Christian School where she sometimes substitutes.

Sounds like ‘Lisa time’ is filling up.