Sunday, March 2, 2008

Asilomar in the Fog 2008

Just got home from 5 days of teaching at Asilomar for Empty Spools Seminars. What a beautiful place.

It rained so hard when we were driving there I was a little concerned but the minute we arrived it was a warm 57 degrees and sunny.
Each morning there would be a salty layer of fog sitting just on the shore that would burn off about noon. I forgot how much I love the fog. I took a lot of pictures of the foggy beach, waves and the sand dunes. I love taking foggy pictures of the beach. Fog seems to allow me to see color better. Maybe because I have to put color where there is none.

My class was very challenging this year. I love challenges. I always learn from them but, as for being the teacher I want to be, I have a long way to go.

I think the challenge started on the first night when they called all the faculty up on stage and introduced them one by one. I was already overwhelmed by who was up on stage. Alex Anderson, Sue Benner, Lara Wasilowski, Velda Newman, just to name a few. They usually go alphabetically and when they got to Kirby and Laura Schwarz-Smith I knew someone had passed over my name card. Diana is very organized so I ran up on stage and I made a cute joke about being forgotten. Someone later asked me if we had planned that cute skit (of course we had!) I don't know how Diana can remember everything she has to, because I can't remember my own child's name and I only have one.

My class was made up of beautiful women, all different but so much the same. On the first day we are supposed to start class at 4pm and end at 5pm, even though we only have 1 hour of teaching.

I had 2 students who I knew would be late because of a late arriving flight. They walked into the class and had this serious look on their faces. I thought its because they were late. But later we all found out it was because they had just gone through a hair raising flight, where they dropped about 2,000 feet, swerved to miss something, (God only knows what) while passengers were screaming and crying in fear. The things people will do to be in my class.

But in this class, I had a very interesting young artist that pushed my teaching skills. Every night I would go back to my room and try to figure out her daily questions. “Why do you do that?" "Stop encouraging me, I need criticism.” At first I wondered why she was questioning my technique. I then realized she wanted me to analyze my processes and put descriptive words on how the real artist, ME, does what I do. She was working on a commissioned piece in class, which now I know, was too much to take on when you're learning a new technique. She was also very concerned about wasting fabric and had not brought the right fabric colors for her 2 white flowers. White is very hard to translate, because its not made with all white fabric. The brain knows that they are a white daisy and a calla lily but the picture was taken with yellow light and shadows that
are not white.

It was like she was bringing a horse to a motocross race and wanting me to make it work. My technique is simple. I look at my photos, choose the right colors of fabric for that picture and start creating. As a teacher, I have had to train my students to look closely at their subject matter and the only way I can do that is to walk them through a series of exercises. They don’t really know they are going through this process. It slowly opens their minds and takes the fear away (there is a lot of fear going on) and trains their eye to look closely at the detail. By having them drawing on their picture, making a pattern of that drawing and the process of tracing the shapes in the pattern, by day 3 they have all weaned themselves off the pattern and are using their eyes to look closely at their original photo. My sweet babies .

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