Liza Riddle ceramics




"For me, a successful piece casts an elegant shadow, evokes an inner power, and has surface decoration that mimics and celebrates the colors and patterns of nature." – Liza Riddle


As a young child growing up in California, USA, my passions were hiking in the hills and at the coast, discovering and understanding the natural world, questioning how things work, and making art. In college, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in zoology I took numerous art classes, graduating with a minor in art, and later, earned a master’s degree in environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

For several decades I worked to preserve and protect America’s natural lands, for the University of California, the State of California and lastly, the Trust for Public Land, a national non-governmental organization.  At every opportunity, I traveled and explored, my curiosity taking me to the spectacular terrain of the American southwest, snow covered peaks in California, and actively evolving, dramatic landscapes around the world – windswept Namibian dunes, Icelandic lava flows, and the cracked surface of high altitude salt flats in Bolivia.  I discovered ethereal light sculptures by James Turrell, land art by Andy Goldsworthy, glowing paintings by Agnes Martin and Lee Ufan’s minimalist Dialogue paintings. 

As my interest in ceramics increased, I fell in love with the simple elegant forms by the Finnish artists Erna Aaltonen, Kati Tuominen-Niittylä, and Päivi Rintaniemi, biomorphic forms by Deirdre McLoughlin, and Joan Serra’s cracked earth cubes.  In my early fifties, after a rewarding and exciting career, I turned my focus to ceramics.

In Portfolio I, I am creating a body of work titled FORCE, which draws on and reflects my life experiences. My objective is to capture a moment in time, a moment in the inexorable process of desiccation, cracking, and destruction I have so often observed in nature. These works are quiet, but evoke a sense of power and resonates with contained energy. Each piece has an innate beauty, with sharp edged surface tiles seemingly just on the edge of destruction.

My work is hand built, with wet clay applied to a previously fired form.  As the surface clay dries and contracts, it cracks and breaks into random or repetitive geometric patterns, forming irregular polygons, three point stars, or small tiles. After firing at earthenware temperatures, I paint the clay with water soluble metals, using iron, nickel, cobalt, and other metal salts. Through trial and error I have developed my own mixtures of metal salts and techniques for applying these almost transparent watercolors. After a final firing, the metals fix and transform, revealing the earth’s elemental palette of colors.

In Portfolio II, I celebrate the sensual nature of clay, with carefully burnished and polished forms that beckon to be held and admired. In this body of work, I interpreted natural objects and events, inspired by the rhythms, patterns and forces of weathered boulders on a mountain slope, wind ripples on a gray blue sea, the sensual shoulder line of a human figure.

Liza Riddle lives and works in Berkeley, California, USA.