WALNUT CREEK -- Pauline Ma-Senturia and Alice Lasky have similar musical backgrounds but took different paths to discovering their newfound artistic passions.
Their journeys eventually led them to Civic Arts Education, where they took classes and will be featuring their artwork, along with other local artists, at the annual Artists Market the weekend of March 22.
As a young girl, Lasky started painting portraits of her classmates before studying at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Much later, attending a chamber music concert inspired her to become a professional violinist with orchestras and chamber groups. Today, she's still passionate about teaching music to adults and children.
While visiting an artists' colony in Maine, Lasky's artistic path took another turn.
"I bought a handmade ceramic piece and always liked that art form," said the Boston native who now lives in Walnut Creek.
As a violin teacher for CAE, Lasky discovered the Clay Arts studio and "immediately became addicted to it." She'll be showing her functional clay pieces at the Artists Market.
"I've never really taken a break from clay," she said. "I've just kept going. I've gotten to the point where I'm making things I'd buy."
Her pieces include ceramic salt and pepper shakers in the form of pears and strawberries, and pottery that features her painting techniques inspired by nature and Asian design.
Lasky said playing music and working with clay are intrinsically intertwined.
"There is a connection in that the kind of discipline it takes to study violin is similar to studying clay -- it really takes years to get good at it," she said. "It's takes self-discipline and concentration."
But music, she said, is a temporal art form.
"When you play music, it's out there and then it's gone," Lasky said. "But clay is something you can hold onto, look at and admire."
The same weekend of the Artists Market, the public can find Lasky performing with her Oak Hill Piano Trio at 10:30 a.m. March 22, at Grace Presbyterian Church on Tice Valley Road. The free concert is sponsored by the Contra Costa Performing Arts Society.
Ma-Senturia, a classical musician in piano, voice and choral conducting, worked as a design/construction project manager for the U.S. General Services Administration before a beading class at the Martinez Senior Center swept her off her feet. Then a Civic Arts weaving class ignited a new passion of using the rigid heddle loom to make placemats, scarves and bags.
A Martinez resident, Ma-Senturia credits beading instructor Mimi Vaeth at the Martinez Senior Center for introducing her to a whole new world of jewelry making. But she's equally passionate about weaving as she is with beading.
While her jewelry can complement the scarves and bags she weaves, Ma-Senturia says they're not made to wear as matching sets.
"What really moves me is color -- all colors," she said. "I go for simply flowing styles. Traveling a lot gives me ideas. When I'm traveling, I buy beads just about everywhere -- Morocco, Australia. I don't have a particular style because I like so many things."
In her previous career as project manager for the federal government, it took years to finish a project, she said.
"So now as I create art, in a few days my creation is complete and the gratification is enormous because I'm used to waiting years for something to happen," said Ma-Senturia, who's also involved with the Martinez Art Association. "Patterns evolve and designs come to life sometimes in only a matter of a few hours."
Shadelands hours: 5-9 p.m. March 22; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 23; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 24, Shadelands Art Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek
Civic Park hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 23; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 24, Clay Arts Studio, Civic Park.
Information: www.arts-ed.org or www.clayartsguild.org