Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Going After Inspiration

Isn’t this an amazing quotation from Jack London?

“Inspiration is not something that floats in the air like some radical gas to be collected in fairy nets; it is more effectively generated by a basket of practical ploys. Further, for flawed individuals like ourselves, it's easy to see something, have a vague idea that it's something special, then pass by and forget it. The written list and the quick sketch nail fleeting wisdom to the intransigent brain. "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

I’m currently really enjoying teaching my Working in Series workshop on line.
One of the exercises everyone is doing is about going after inspiration (not with clubs but with keyboards!!). 
I have people getting inspired all over the world: the US, Canada, Australian, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Brunei, Switzerland, South Africa and Taiwan!  What a wealth of art and craft is available!
An activity that’s impossible to do in the average conference type of workshop is to ask the participants to do research.  (Though I have done this when teaching at somewhere like Arrowmont (see button on side bar) where there is a wonderful library full of inspiration! (as well as a gallery with wonderful art work)).  For Jack London is right, just sitting at a table in a hotel (where many workshops and seminars are held) isn’t terribly conducive to finding inspiration!  You either need to come armed with it, or you need to go and get it.  The online classes are weekly so people have a whole week to dig it out!  And being all over the world, they are digging on many continents!     And in the workshop I’m  encouraging folk to make a habit of Writing it Down, or Making a Sketch. Don’t just find it and rush on, find a way to preserve it!

I never expected that I would enjoy teaching online as much as I have; there are so many possibilities – such as the research above – that hadn’t occurred to me.  Of course, real life classes are great too – and they have opportunities that the online ones don’t.   I’ve been lucky enough to visit most of the well known spots where Art Quilters congregate and now I’m enjoying working for specific guilds.  I get a lot of inspiration from visiting places I’ve never been and I usually ask for a short tour of the area from the kind ladies who host teachers.  Many many thanks to those who’ve driven me up the marvelous Highway 1 on the California coast, who showed me San Diego from the old fort, who took me on a cable car in San Francisco, and over the Golden Gate Bridge, showed me the stunning mountains in their winter dress in Western Canada, the beach in Florida, and I didn’t even have to club any of them to get them to lead me to these inspiring scenes! And it’s great to be able to get to know so many people all with the same addiction as me!  I love it when I can spend a few minutes one on one with each person in the classroom, and it’s truly fulfilling when they make a breakthrough and I can share their thrill at what they’ve done.

Inspiration is everywhere;  we think we could never forget what we saw, heard, tasted, smelled, felt and reacted to deep within us…but alas memory often does dissipate like London’s radical gas….so a picture, a paragraph, a sketch…carefully preserved in a special folder or shoe box (as Twyla Tharp advocates in her book The Creative Habit)…will provide the link for ever.

And if you have been, thanks for reading!  And don’t forget to enter the Arty Quilt Show (described in the post below), deadline April 1st!  I didn’t mention the theme before because Fresh Work is what is wanted, it’s “Eschew Obfuscation”.   Enjoy the chew!   Elizabeth

PS Love the comments!! full of inspiration!


Rachel Neil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
guru said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.