Collaborating for "Come Together"


This spring I had the awesome honor of collaborating with fellow figurative ceramic artist Tanna Bennett for "Come Together," an exhibition that opens on May 12 and will be on display at Winter Street Studios through August 19.

We each created three figures using the time-honored bust format, completing each work about 90 percent. Then, we exchanged our figures to let the other put on the finishing touches. Having worked by myself for so long, it was very eye-opening to see how another artist's imagination could take my figures and stories in subtle but meaningful new directions. I also greatly enjoyed creating some final touches and directions for Tanna's pieces. As a control freak, it was a little frightening to give up the final outcome of my pieces, but I am beyond thrilled at how every piece turned out.

For this figure, "Admission," Tanna added the decorative flourishes on her hairline and bust, and created the separate "Tickets" base. I love the fact that she created an interconnecting story between this piece and another sculpture, "Locked," who is the classic sad clown with a few twists.

For cohesiveness among my three pieces, I glazed them all in white, with just a few touches of color, and then I pit-fired them to create a very crackled, smoky appearance. 

Here's more information on "Come Together," which has many awesome works in various mediums from the many talented artists working in the Sawyer Yards arts complex.


"Ocotillo" in the Houston Chronicle

It was a pleasant surprise to see one of my early "Ocotillo" sculptures in this Houston Chronicle article about Houston collectors Crystal and Don Owens. A neighbor gave me the Sunday paper copy, which didn't include the photo of the Ocotillo, so I was delighted to see it in the online gallery.

The Owens have a beautiful home with a meaningful collection of art. I'm proud to be a small part of it. And kudos to Chronicle photographer Michael Starghill Jr. for capturing such a nice photograph, with the bayou greenery in the background.



Ocotillo by Damon J. Thomas

Who is this little guy?

Meet Jasper, aka my mascot. About 28 inches high, this little guy was the love child of workshops I had with two awesome artists at Roswell Art Center West in Atlanta - Tom Bartel in 2008 and Debra Fritts in 2009. 

Jasper popped into my mind and my sketchbook in the summer of 2009. I built him, glazed him, fired him, and delivered him to Buchanan Gallery in Galveston, a few hours before the August Saturday ArtWalk was to begin. He sold that same night. The validation of my work felt so wonderful, that's when I felt like I could start to call myself an artist.

I named the first figure "Boots On," but this little guy didn't have a personal name until I christened him as Jasper several years later.

Why Jasper? One year I made a version of him with a Texas flag, with the complementary colors of green, black and orange, instead of red, white and blue. That, of course, was an homage to Jasper Johns' reverse American flags. My good friend Steve started calling this little character Jasper, and the name stuck. Steve has had (my) original Jasper in his collection for many years.

Over the years, Jasper has taken many forms, such as this double Jasper, called "Homesick," and included in the book,  "500 Figures in Clay, Volume II."

Homesick, 2012

Homesick, 2012

One of the most fun incarnations of Jasper has been "Epic," inspired by a poster I saw of a little hero guy online. For the past few months, he seems to be delighting many people who visit my studio in the Silos, if the number of selfies taken with him are any indication.

Epic, 2016

Epic, 2016

If anyone ever decides to take him home, I'll really miss him, but I make a new Jasper cousin one day to keep the tradition alive.



Thrilled to have work in Ft. Worth thru 8/26

If you squint, you can see my works "Channel" (yellow/brown piece in left corner) and "Mixed Forest" (vertical pieces on left wall) in this installation shot from Artspace111 in Fort Worth. It's part of the Texas Sculpture Group show, "Profusion in the Void," up through 8/26. It's an honor to be part of this esteemed group and to be shown at this wonderful space.

Playing with Talishands

The idea for my new Talishand series came from an image of a Surrealist artwork I saw during a mini art history course this summer at Glassell School of Art. While I didn't catch the artist, the image was from the cover of a Surrealist magazine from the height of the movement, about 100 years ago, and it showed a head coming out of the tip of a hand.

That soon morphed into my own series, where I'm placing symbols that are meaningful to me on the tips of the middle fingers. I use a hand mold from my 2015 Certificate show at Glassell as a beginning. I then place an ascending symbol on the middle finger, with a related grounding symbol of the base of the hand.

Sometimes the base symbol is a simple eye, inspired by my trip to Greece this spring, as on this Crow Talishand. Other times, the two symbols are more closely related, such as a wing with a nest, or a butterfly with a pupae.

I came up with a blend of shiny glaze and matt underglaze to provide a translucent, hopefully skin-like surface for the hand. I put slip on thick to create crackles, which I love, then finish with other glazes, underglazes and oxides. Sometimes I use ink after firing as a final detail.

After creating about six different Talishand compositions, I'm taking a break to work on some large sculpture pieces for a show this fall at the Silos' big atrium gallery. I'm looking forward to revisiting the Talishands this fall, with skulls, marigolds and other symbols inspired by Day of the Dead traditions.

For now, five Talishands are displayed in the window at my studio, #211 in The Silos.

Happy rest of the summer!

Talishand Crow.jpg

A long-envisioned sculpture, brought to life

While I'm perhaps best known for my figurative work, I find as much pleasure in creating organic, nature-inspired forms.

A couple of years ago, I created four "branch" forms about 24" long. After I bisqued them, I let them hang on my studio walls for many months, confident the time would come when they would speak to me about what kind of glaze they wanted.

I've always had in mind to do a piece called "Mixed Forest," that recalls the variety of trees found in the woods. That led to my glazing plan. Since it was winter - though it sure didn't feel like it here in Houston - I decided to use a Cone 6 "Marble" glaze from Tom Spleth, to create a surface that looked like snow. I used underglaze to layer colors such as blue and chartreuse under this semi-translucent glaze, to suggest hues encapsulated in snow.

When the pieces came out from the glaze firing, I thought they were a little too white, so I used a sepia acrylic ink wash to create a variety of woodsy tones on top of the lucious, milky white. I'm very happy with the final "Mixed Forest," and it's hanging right now in my studio at The Silos - #211.

Mixed Forest, 2016; each piece approx. 24" x 2" x 3"

Winging in to Rorpost

I'm excited that my sculpture, "Wings," will be in the RORPOST exhibit, opening Sept. 10 from 7-10 p.m. at Houston's iconic Art Car Museum, 140 Heights Blvd. It will be on exhibit through Oct. 30.

RORPOST is a collaborative exhibit between our own 21-member Art Chatter group of Houston and our Danish counterpart, Bla Dore of Esbjerg. For this exhibit, pairs of artists from each group collaborated on works on paper, and these 84 works will be exhibited in RORPOST.

Each artist also created an individual "response" piece about their experience in the collaboration. My response piece, "Wings," has 21 birds - one for each member of Art Chatter - flanked by a large pair of wings. An earlier version of this sculpture, now in the collection of the terrific artist Diane Fraser, is shown here.

"Wings" represents the numerous times that Art Chatter members - represented by our works on paper - flew back and forth over the Atlantic to Denmark. OK, actually the artworks were shipped by water, but our spirits did soar during this exciting experience.

RORPOST at the Art Car Museum follows an exhibit that opened in Esbjerg this spring. After the Art Car Museum closes, the works on paper will be exhibited at Houston City Hall.



"WINGS," 2015. This is an earlier version of my sculpture that will be on display at the Art Car Museum.   

"WINGS," 2015. This is an earlier version of my sculpture that will be on display at the Art Car Museum.