Everybody talks about taking workshops as a way to re-energize themselves, but I find they have the opposite effect on me. You get all bouyed up by the support – both artistic and practical (especially the food!) and then come home and real life hits you in the eye. The stacked up tasks and all the everyday things that need attending to and the sudden cutting off of that rarified air all make it difficult to get back into the groove.
Here’s a picture of the rarified air at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Western North Carolina, deep into the old, old Smoky Mountains (the oldest mountains in the world).
The Folk School has three or four hundred undeveloped acres; it’s so beautiful and, alas, so rare to see the land as it was ,without strip malls, thousands of advertising signs, concrete block buildings and dumpsters. Such a visual treat, you have to stop constantly and wonder at it…..
Unfortunately many of the classes are rather muscular! Like blacksmithing and operating various lethal machines to do things with wood! Of course the benefit of such classes is there are plenty of men around for the square dancing! Which I thoroughly enjoyed! The dancing, that is!
Back down to the plains and Real Life: how can I put my new knowledge to work? for any new knowledge will soon dissipate if not practiced till automatic, practiced till intuitive.
Fortunately I left a small piece half done which is calling me from the “sewing room”! I know many have a beautiful fixed studio, but I migrate around the house with the changing weather: the hotter it gets, the lower I go! but it’s been so hot here I’m thinking of digging myself a hole in the ground.
I’m working on a new online class called The Designing Dyer. I have often noticed that there is a gap between the surface design work and the quilts made from hand dyed and printed fabric. So I thought it would be fun to try to bridge the gap…going from a particular kind of SD to a specific type of quilt design that would work well with that particular fabric.
I began with gradating dye colors and my sample is black – which is one of the best colors to do gradations with as
a) there’s a great range of values and
b) the dye companies throw so many different dyes together to make black that they make beautiful marks as they slowly creep across the fabric in the dye container…. so I’m working on a little misty grey landscape. (wonder where I got that idea?)
What I learned at the workshop was that I needed to STOP sooner – it’s so hard not to overwork. And if you do, you lose both the mystery and the wabi-sabi. So here I am determined to practice more at doing less!
I think I need to get a cuppa tea to get my head around this oxymoronic activity!!
If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
What class did you take at John C. Campbell Folk School? I was there about 6 years ago and loved it! Plan on going back someday as I save up my dollars!
An online dyeing class sounds good! Lots of wet misty colours here in Cornwall at the moment. will it ever stop raining!!
I took a drawing class - every time you ask any artist "what can I do to improve my art skills" - they say "take a drawing class!" - I'm signed up for two this summer and in the Fall I'll start going to the life drawing at OCAF in Watkinsville, Ga.
And oh I wish I could swop a few days with you Peneller! wet cool and misty sounds wonderful right now!
So interested by your idea of making gradations with black dye. The staff at ProChem steered me away from that, suggesting instead Nickel and other greys, but now I am determined to try out the black.
I have spent the last few days overdyeing complementary colours to get that dirty, complex colour I'm after. Will you include that approach in your course, do you think?
thanks for your comment Heather. I can only presume the prochem folk steered you away from black gradations because black isn't a pure color so your hues are kind of random!! but I love that...and you can get a great range of values. Nickel and the other greys are also mixed colors though...if you wanted just one hue, possibly boysenberry would be a good choice. Re the complementaries dulling - I do mention that in order to dull colors you can use black or a complementary - either way you'll end up with all three primaries in the mix and that's what leads to a neutral...or on the way to a neutral!!
I've signed up for a drawing class at my local art museum school--and I'm going with my grand-daughter! I'm excited to be in a structured environment to enforce drawing practice. I identify completely with you needing to stop sooner. I love the process and get totally involved. Thanks for the reminder to stay aware of what's happening!
I am sitting here in Sisters at the Quilter's Affair. I come here every year and take a few classes, get I touch with the women that I share a house with, and do some shopping. I had a wonderful class yesterday on painting and am afraid I will go home and not get to it until I have forgotten everything. The highlight was running into a dyer who was presenting downtown at one of the stores. She made it seem so simple. I love your work and have taken a couple of Quilt University classes with you. I'm hoping to get back with you in August. I know you are coming to Portland but I can't get into your workshop. I keep hoping one day you will be at the Quilters Affair. It is a great event with Quilter's from around the world and selfishly I want to get into a workshop with you. Love your work. Pam
Hey Jackie - lucky you a museum class! definitely take it...the more you learn about art the better....
Dear PJS in Sisters, OR - I'd love to teach there, let's hope that one day they ask me!! I'm so glad you enjoyed my online classes with Quilt University, I've been surprised by how much I enjoyed teaching them - having students from all around the world in the class is a great experience.
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