Saturday, October 17, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Life is very different right now...and it can be very frustrating...especially if you listen/watch/read the news!!! Between the virus, elections and climate change it seems hard to find joy.
Therefore, I suggest you turn your eyes away from those topics! And consider the huge amount that can be learned online. I found a lovely little tutorial on a piano piece I'm struggling to learn by myself:
And there are you tubes on just about Everything!!
Here's one based on a lecture I gave at the local library:
and one on that very pleasant activity - ironing!
I'm using a program called Filmic Pro to make the videos for my online classes - and there are some really neat little videos about how to use it.
But you know...there are actual advantages to being so restricted in one's life!!!
Both my daughters had horrible commutes to work (one in New York, one in Atlanta - cities notorious for traffic) - and now they're working from home and have two extra hours to the day...as well as less stress.
Cities are realizing that outdoor dining is much safer than indoor...and very popular! anyone who's visited Paris know that the outdoor cafes are immensely popular and busy everywhere...and so much better for people watching.
I used to work in a big health Center, they built a new one..I said make sure the windows open - oh no ,they said, the architects don't like that!!! much better to have controlled air!! ha!! now they know that the safest air of all is....outside air!
Another advantage: we're eating much more healthily, we get local produce (including mushrooms) delivered from local farms. Fast food is DEATH!!! And as a Vegan I could rarely find anything palatable at the local restaurants anyway.
|Even the mushrooms are Socially distanced in the park!|
In fact, I've discovered the very best music to dance to is........ Bach. Try it!!!
I was missing people....so I took my Bach to the Park! and a group of us...8 feet apart...now dance to Bach every wednesday morning - you are welcome to come and join us! If you hold your breath and ask them to hold theirs...you can even get a quick hug too! Bach and hugs!!! This is bliss!
I have ten online classes right now with www.academyofquilting.com - I asked the Dean to make them all available, you don't have to wait to join a class.
Also, while playing around with the fabric I had at home (although I did sin a bit with online ordering from Mood fabrics in New York!) I came up with a really neat idea for a bed quilt. Ever so easy, but..it also illustrates all the basic design principles. I'm filming it now...will let ya'll know when it's done. It will just be a short fun class, maybe 3 lessons.
So very many ways to find joy.
Please write and tell me what you have discovered...the positive side of our trying times.
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!
Friday, September 4, 2020
oh my Lord are you fed up with decluttering??? I know I am!
at first i thought...stay home and stay safe ...what a wonderful chance to do the death cleaning I've always wanted to achieve!
BUT that was before I tried to tackle the clutter in a house where 4-6 people have lived and collected and collected and stored and stored for 31 years!! A house with not only at least two large closets in every room, but also masses of roof space!!
However, sometimes amidst the clutter you come across things you'd forgotten about!
i found all the antique quilt tops I'd collected many years ago...I do want to finish one of them! it's a raucous orange!! which will look wonderful in my blue North facing bedroom...
the best way to judge the age of an old quilt top is by the fabric...I think this one will be mid 20th century
.but that leaves me with about 5 I'd like to sell...plus a couple of dozen feed sacks...and a stack of blocks!!!
Making clothes and quilts from feed sacks became popular in the depression era...here's a good article about it: https://slate.com/human-interest/2017/07/how-depression-era-women-made-dresses-out-of-chicken-feed.html
The top below, however, is made from old shirts cut up...another way for women to be creative even though their resources were extremely limited...
I like the little funky mixes of fabric.
The tops are laid out on a queen size bed by the way...my new air bed!!! LOVE air beds! I shall never buy a mattress again...apart from anything else you can move these so easily. and about a tenth of the cost...however..don't invite your daughter and her partner and her large dog to play and sleep on one all together!!!! pffffffffffff..........
Sunday, August 23, 2020
|Unexpectedness is a great way to attract attention!|
The last time I taught a class I asked for suggestions for an upcoming blog. When later I read through the suggestions I was surprised by how many people mentioned self-evaluation as being important.
As a first step, I'd suggest really training your eye by critiquing other people's work. The problem with critiquing your own is that it's really hard to be objective. When we look at the piece on the wall we see not only the actual pattern of shapes in cloth but also all our hopes, beliefs, intentions, inspirations etc. It's very difficult to shut off those. Especially if you're learning how to evaluate the strength of a piece.
Therefore, I suggest getting together with friends and bringing examples to the get-togethers of Truly awful work (in your opinion) and fabulously brilliant work. Take images from the internet, or from books or magazines. You're not going to be publishing these, your comments will go nowhere but the group! So don't worry about that...but when you show the others the work and make your comments you have to totally justify and say why you think the piece is Awful, or boring, or exciting or fabulous. Gradually you'll learn ways of expressing these things...and you are training your eye...it's like wine tasting!! you've got to have the wine!
The most important thing about a work of art - which you'll notice immediately you go out surfing on the 'net - is whether or not it attracts your attention. D'you want to look at it for more than the standard 3 second glance that most images create? d'you lean forward, and hit Ctrl + to see it better? D'you want to "pin it" or save it in some way? D'you want to come back to it later to look at it again? These are the key hallmarks to a successful piece.
All the rest is the nitty gritty of how the artist achieved a successful work...those "principles" we've all heard about? They are the means by which the artist caught and held our attention. They've been derived by critics and teachers looking at artwork that has stood the test of time figuring out what characteristics those artworks have in common.
Some are technical: unity/harmony, variety/tension, rhythm/movement, balance/proportion, economy.
Some are more emotional: does the work make us feel? Is an emotion created within us? whether it's delight, or despair - does the work affect us? what is the artist communicating?
or is the emotion we sense one of boredom? this piece is boring, it's empty, it's been seen before. As human beings we are definitely hard wired to be attracted by something novel. If the quilt or painting or piece of music is the 17th, or 70th or 700th iteration of something we've seen/heard before, it's not going to have much effect on us.
If the piece is interesting but somehow doesn't feel quite right, the problem is likely to be something technical.
If the piece is boring, the problem is likely to be that the artist is not able to communicate something to us...possibly because they have nothing to communicate...or that they are so inarticulate that they have failed to do so but more likely the former.
And now I shall go and make yet another cup of tea, I'm sure it will be better than the last one!
If you have been, thanks for reading!
And do - please! - comment! Elizabeth
Friday, August 7, 2020
A reader asked a very good question in response to my last blog...and, as i think many of us are experiencing similar problems, I decided to write an open letter in response.
I'm having difficulties I don't remember having before the pandemic.
I am paralyzed by too much time, too many choices.
I feel untethered and aimless.
Even when I have all the supplies for a project, I still can't get going.
In the evening I feel excited about what I'll do in the morning, but come the morning, I just don't have the creative energy.This isn't like me.
Reading this I had a lot of different thoughts. Some of the problems described often occur occasionally, but many of us are experiencing something like this now as a result of the situation we are all living in right now, especially here in the USA.
We are all under a great deal of stress: the result both of fear of the virus, the uncertainty of the future, and frustration with "them" - i.e. those who could do something about it, and don't...or won't... Other countries have shown the way, we know what to do to alleviate the problem...but we're not doing it. Actually, I find this creates more tension in me than the virus itself. We're not all acting together for the benefit of all, but rather infighting.
I think the first step is to address the very real threat of disease and sickness and assure yourself that you are doing all YOU can to be safe...and for your loved ones. Then say to yourself: I am doing ALL I can, therefore I need to stop reading the news, watching tv or listening to the radio about the virus or politics or global warming etc etc!!
This kind of hot air news with more and more people saying the same thing, but nobody actually doing it is very depressing and it gradually gets you down. Research has definitely shown that listening to bad news is depressing!
Second, be sure you're getting enough exercise, when we're at home or close to home all the time, it's difficult...but lack of exercise definitely affects mood and drive. Again, research shows exercise - any kind - here's me dancing by myself!!! - improves mood.
Six. Initial inertia. So having take all those steps to feel happier and more balanced...how does one overcome that initial inertia of getting moving in the studio? Well, starting to move, overcoming the weight of the inertia requires a little more push than usual..a little more gas!
Don't make the mistake of feeling that you have to wait for excitement and intuition etc etc to carry you gloriously into the task!! many many creative people have written/spoken about how sometimes it's very difficult and uncomfortable to get started. So don't worry about thinking you have to feel tremendous excitement! Also don't ever feel that everything you do has to be a masterpiece.
A good first step is to set a goal, it can be very small, in fact it's better if it is small.
Some writers aim for so many hundred words, composers so many bars (sorry! not drinks...but measures!), or so much harmonization.
A painter might say - I'm going to paint a very small painting every day...and take a full size sheet of paper and divide it up into little squares or rectangles, one for each day. A choreographer - some steps to the first few bars of a classical piece.
As a quilter, I would decide on a project: say a small abstract piece, 16 x 10 made from no more than 12 different shapes fitted together. I would say: okay at 10 am (after the early morning exercise!), I will be in the studio without internet access!! I will roughly sketch out 12 different possible designs and pin them up on the wall, and then I'll have a cup of tea.
yes, you have to push yourself a little to get going...but once you're rolling...you'll usually stick with it.
I would say to myself (when in the middle of constructing a piece pinned out on the design wall): okay, elizabeth, you have to get just one piece sewn into place...you can stop after that, or keep going, but you HAVE to do that one....often (not always of course, but often enough) I'd find I was onto the 3rd piece before I realised.
Seven. The use of time. Many of us are used to schedules and many different activities and for some of us that structure has fallen away because it was externally applied...so now is the time to build one's own structure or time table. It is very helpful to spell it out. When you get up, go to bed, eat. When you exercise, when you meet with a friend - zooming or car port! or gazebo! Time on emails and internet activities. Relaxation time. Studio time. Nature time. Draw out your schedule, try it for a couple of days, then you can adjust it as necessary. The most creative people have the most discipline and structure.
Eight. Accountability. I find this helps a lot - having a critique session with a friend or friends - that's something you can do on Zoom and would be fun, or joining a class where there is a weekly requirement, promising to send somebody a piece for their anniversary.
I hope these ideas help. Remember you are not alone, many of us are feeling this...but there is a lot we can do. I'd love people to write in Comments and describe their own ideas or experience!
if i get more useful cogitations (it does happen from time to time!), I'll add them and put revised at the top so you know I did!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!! Elizabeth
From my readers...some extra possibilities:
1. Start with something easy, like following a pattern...that will help to grease the wheels!
2. Divide the day into segments, so you're flowing forwards always.
3. Leave what you're working on at an enticing point, so you're dying to get back to it!
4. Tell yourself you HAVE to stick with it 20 minutes, or so, before giving up!
5. Maintain your social contacts, albeit digitally, with frequent emails and "mini challenges", sharing ideas and work.
6. Say to yourself: now I have the time to sit back and appreciate small things - particularly in nature.
Friday, July 31, 2020
I know many of us are staying close to home these days...and this may go on for a long time...so...instead of constantly reviewing the dire numbers...compulsively watching people spouting hot air on tv, or worriedly eating and drinking and stacking piles of toilet paper (for who know when it might be in short supply again!)...let's figure out what benefits there are to our situation. For one thing, think of all those dreary appointments and visits that you don't have to make!!! There's so many things we do that really don't have much point to them, or, even worse, much enjoyment!
Thinking about why learning is so good I realise I really enjoy learning new things, or - even more - learning how to do/make those things I already do, better and stronger. I love learning more about art, and music, and more about learning itself. I'm particularly interested in finding out the best ways to learn. Robert Bjork is very interesting on this - he's made lots of You Tubes.
And, yes, there's the 10,000 hours idea...but this number has been challenged on many levels.
If you haven't heard of it, a popular science writer summarized a number of findings on learning - (particularly with respect to music) and concluded that 10,000 hours of practice would make you an expert.However, many researchers dispute this e.g. Macnamara et al (2014) examined all the relevant research and concluded:
" deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued."
The original research was carried out by Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer in 1993 on violin students in Berlin. They noted that the best students had practiced around 10,000 hours by the time they were 20. However to conclude from that research (as has been done) that 10,000 hours is both a necessary and a sufficient amount of time to become an expert is invalid.
And what does "practice" actually mean? Making or doing the same old same old just doesn't cut it. Everyone does agree that you need to push yourself further, take risks, make the tasks progressively harder, get lots of feedback about mistakes or weaknesses and then devise specific strategies to work on those. As the athletes do.
The research on so-called brain games also suggests that it's not just using our brains that makes the differences, it's taking on ever more difficult tasks. So, if you want to get anywhere, it's probably not going to be easy. But then...you are in good company! If you learn a new brain game and then just settle into playing it over and over, the brain begins to make things automatic. That doesn't lead to more cognitive strength. which is why most "brain games" are completely pointless once you've got the hang of it.