I don't know about you, but when I take workshops (not all that often these days), I'm often extremely frustrated by how inarticulate the teacher is. and it seems to occur much more in art (painting or fiber) than in other mediums.
Recently I took a painting workshop, where the teacher did a demo every day and when asked why she painted a certain shape of a certain size or color, would consistently reply: "Oh, I just work intuitively! I don't know why I did that!" then she would take some white paint and erase the first mark - "so, why did you erase it?" "I don't know, it didn't feel right!"
Other comments: "I have no rule for compositions; a lot is intuitive, I feel it needs to be a certain way...I choose color intuitively....randomly – " "I was torturing myself for days! "
That's no help at all to the student! We have to learn to torture ourselves for days???!!
By contrast, when I asked the piano teacher (they go by the wonderful name of pedagogue by the way! I'd love to be an art quilt pedagogue!), why he would play a repeated notes with several different fingers instead of just the same one over and over, he gave me a very good and full explanation. (easier to switch fingers than to lift the first one - for those of you who are curious).
How can a teacher help a student if they don't know why they're doing what they are doing themselves? Working by "feel" or by "instinct" is fine if you're in your own studio, messing with your own stuff, wasting your own fabric....but how can you convey that way of feeling to the student?
Maybe I'm a bit dim, but I've never been able to learn something from someone who can't explain what/why they're doing.
Also if you know WHY, then it's likely that you can avoid, or at least correct, errors - of course I have learned that I can go over an error with white paint! Or cut out the offending piece of cloth from the quilt. As long as I know which bits are errors, of course....
It's possible that the idea that you can work by "feel" "instinct" or"intuition" alone, came from the widely held belief that some of us are born talented and some are not. I must admit that when I was young I was always hoping that I would discover whatever it was that I had a hidden talent for!!! But, as old age (sorry, I mean "maturity"!) encroaches, more and more I think it's education, practice, and coaching with articulate feedback for a significant period of time that makes the artist, or skilled performer (whether fine arts, crafts, music, athletics, debate...whatever it is).
We need the explanations....and we need the feedback..in order to improve. What tennis player would hope to learn to make those perfect aces by "intuition"?!!!
I'd love to hear from you as to your experiences....d'you find "intuitive" teachers to be inspiring? or frustrating?
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!
Elizabeth, AQP (art quilt pedagogue!)