I was surprised to read a few weeks ago ( I don't remember where) somebody saying they always hated it when a teacher began a workshop session by asking about goals. Whenever I hold a workshop I always start by asking people what they hope to get from the workshop. To me this is not a time filler or a trite obvious and redundant way to begin...it's a crucial question.
There are lots and lots of things I could cover in a workshop, so it’s much better for me to talk about the things the participants are interested in than prattle on with whatever I want to say!
Asking myself what my goal is, what I want to achieve with a piece, is important for every piece I make, every series of quilts that I contemplate and in fact, for the whole of “the full catastrophe”.
Zorba the Greek - one of the best educational films ever made! and yes I’ve discovered the fun of embedding YouTube into the blog!! apologies!
I think it's really crucial to know why you are doing something..to know what your motives and intentions are. Without that, how can you mindfully engage with the activity? I will add that I think it's just as legitimate to take a class for fun, or to be with like minded people as it is to learn how to use colour, or balance a composition. So I don’t think one’s goals have to be presidential! or philosophical! But since my goal as the teacher is to help you reach your goal, I can't do that if I don't know what it is. My goal isn't necessarily therefore to teach "the curriculum" - that's one of the reasons I got out of formal education! (Where you have to teach x or y even if the students want to learn z!) I probably focus on self knowledge as a result of working as a psychologist for several years where sessions would often begin with in this way. I've never been a travel agent, but I presume their first question of the would-be traveller is "now where d'you want to go?" How could you help them get there otherwise? And it’s fine if they say somewhere sunny, not more than 3 hours away and with something fine to look at! That’s a clear goal!
When I take a workshop myself I want the instructor to know what I want out of the class...and I'm frustrated if they appear disinterested in my goals or if they want to work to their own agenda of teaching me exactly what they have down in their Lesson Plan, nothing more, nothing less! In fact I've walked out of classes like that! Or at least gone and got some stitching to get on with while they witter away on whatever they feel is important to them!
Knowing what you want to achieve with a particular piece helps with many artistic decisions. If I'm making a piece about a specific place then I want to know what particular characteristics or sensations or feelings about the place I want to communicate in that piece. Was it the quirkiness of the town? The age of the building?
The strength of the tree? The wierd patterns the chimneys made? The pattern of branches against the moor? The harmony...or the discord?
The discovery that the industrial building (while being both practical and mechanistic) also has a surprising beauty?
If it's an abstract piece, then I might want to convey the relationship and balance between several forms, or lead the viewer's eye through a delightful dance!
If you don't know where you are going, maybe you'll stumble across some unexpectedly beautiful scene, or maybe you'll just fall flat on your face!
When I think about entering shows, I ask myself the same question: so what d'you hope to get out of entering this show? If a piece is going off to the other end of the country, and then after a few weeks reappears..and that's all that happens..is that worth the time and the money? (which can be considerable: shipping there and back, packing materials, fuel for the drive to the shipping office plus the entry fee, the envelopes, stamps, Cds and drive to the post office..).
So now I’m off out into the garden: it’s a beautiful morning and my goal is to enjoy the light on the leaves, the song of the birds and the breeze on my face!
If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
PS I just updated my “Quilts under $950” page on my “art quilt store” blog: