Sunday, 23 October 2011

Drawing on nature

I recently went into a Starbucks in the area (not my most local one) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they had refurnished it and there are very comfortable lingering spots, it's hardly Cedar Farm, mind you, but I like the ambience. Today, my Practical Design workshop was cancelled (due to too many conflicts and illnesses) so instead I am treating myself to an art afternoon out. What this means is that I've loaded up my basket with the usual assortment of books and journals and IPad and now my watercolor travel kit comes along too.

I had a lovely time browsing around a wonderful used bookstore, it's one of those places where books are wedged in at every angle and the cashier's desk is surrounded by more piles. I have found wonderful treasures there. Today, the Great Find was a beautiful book on animal anatomy for artists which will be under the tree for Caroline at Christmas. Shhh, don't tell her.

You haven posted here in a bit but I know you've been traveling and then returned to work and home and studio renovation ... So, knowing full well how life sometimes gets in the way of blogging, I am forging ahead. I do hope at some point that you'll reply to the post I did last time, about creative process. I'm interested to hear what you think.

But I should get back to the subject of creativity and show you what I have been doing.

This is the 12-inch quilt I made as my entry to Midsomer Quilting's fruit challenge. I've not used this technique for a long time (since my Labikeet portrait of Gemma for Twelve by Twelve, I think.). I enjoyed it tremendously and infound myself thinking of the fabric as paints. That is something fiber people say at times and I've understood the analogy, but I've never really had that specific sense while I was working. Maybe the connection felt more immediate because I am doing a bot of drawing and painting each day.

And speaking of that, I am still surprised by how very much I am loving the process of drawing and painting, I'm reminded of how much I liked playing with watercolors when I took some classes years ago. This past week, our assignment was to choose something from nature, draw and paint it, and then develop some stylized designs inspired by our work with the subject. It was very fun -- and you know, I felt immediately gratified because my usual sketchbook style is drawing lots of stylized designs, one leading to the next to see how many design ideas one inspiration can spawn. I had a brand time with this and here are some of the pages I did:

In fact, I liked this assignment so much I had a hard time moving on to this week's assignment which is to paint backgrounds for new pages using various media. I find the process of just making a background, without making it in the context of what is is for, to be rather boring. But in the interests of learning and trusting the course process, I have been good and done a bunch of different backgrounds. We'll see where they go.

This leads me to a new question: when you take a class, what can a teacher do that inspires you or helps you? What makes a good teacher for creative pursuits, I guess is what I'm asking. I have various thoughts and this online workshop has got me thinking because I'm somewhat disappointed at the instruction that is not happening. But I'm wondering whether some people most like to be left alone with no feedback but lots of "yay! Keep going" sorts of encouragement. Maybe I'm unusual in wanting to be told what isn't right and could be better?

I'll go now and look forward to your update.


Anonymous said...

I a) love this blog
b) think your work posted in this post is great
c) agree about being disappointed when teachers just give you a "this is great, keep going". I find it so much more
Motivating when they tell you what could take it farther, better, another possible approach to consider or it's utter rubbish and why.
Looking forward to the next bit of conversation you and Helen have.

Kristin L said...

Yay! Keep going! Your sketchbook work is inspiring. When I was in art school (with a focus on graphic design) we had a similar assignment: paint a silhouette of an object three times. Once following the realistic contours, once stylizing it with organic shapes, and once stylizing it with geometric shapes. Of course, this included all sorts of interim sketches to determine which stylizations would make the final cut. Anyway, that was one of my favorite assignments, and your stylizations remind me of it.

As for instruction, I do expect constructive criticism, or technical step by step (as in a dyeing class or other new-to-me process) otherwise, how is it any different than me working on my own? That's actually one of teh reasons I don;t take many classes -- most of teh work I can figure out how to do with out paying someone to show me. On teh other hand, I'm intrigued by Melanie testa's dyeing and printing techniques and think I would probably enjoy one of her classes...

Joanne S said...

In the era of "everyone is a winner" we don't get much feedback of the helpful sort you are wanting. Hurt feelings. But criticism can be positive if even correctly. I usually praise the things that are good and suggest ways to improve the "almost" good. I neglect to mention the bad.

My one online course in textile work was such a disappointment. I ended up giving ideas and suggestions to fellow students online (as were others)
and , really, what the hell was the instructor being paid to do?

I love what you are doing in the journal. Very Jane Fazio. When do we get to see Diane?

Diane Perin Hock said...

Joanne, I smiled at your comment: "when do we get to see Diane?" I have so little practice/experience with the sketching and painting that I have no "me" in this yet, other than just trying to draw what's in front of me. So maybe something will emerge eventually!

Ruth said...

I had to jump in here too. I agree with the comments of others. These days a lot of courses just seem to be handing out false praise and no real pointers as to how to improve, take it further etc.
I have been disappointed with a lot of classes I have taken for that reason. The only redeeming feature has been, if they were well planned and if you followed the syllabus you did end up learning something - but I felt it was mostly self taught. So I prefer to look around the internet and consult books - although books can be a disappointment too, if you order online and have to rely on the reviews and blurb.
I also think that many people who give courses are good at what they do, but have never been taught how to teach. It isn't something that just comes naturally. There is a reason why teacher's training courses take 3 years!