Monday, February 2, 2015

Reality versus Actuality: the battle of the classes!

In the old days to talk about the battle of the classes meant the serfs versus the nobs...... then the middle class rose and we were all middle class!! For a we're going back to serfs and nobs (them what have the loot!)....however, that's not what this post is about!

Instead, I'm reflecting upon a recent internet discussion on whether or not teaching art quilts is becoming less popular - or rather, whether taking such classes is becoming less popular.  Last May  I was at QSDS (Quilt Surface Design Symposium) - one of the very first of such venues started by Nancy Crow in the Art Quilt Year Dot.  Back in those days you practically had to stand in line overnight a year before to get into a class. Therefore I was quite surprised to note that the week I was teaching there were only 5 classes, of which only two had actually "made" the other three had very limited enrollment and probably (I really don't know for sure but it was suggested on the contract) the three teachers of the small classes accepted a reduced fee.  I also saw a similar thing at another classic venue later in the year.

There are a number of factors for this - most discussed already at length on the 'net....but one thing I think is that in so many ways we're now living our lives on the internet.  Let's face it traveling is NO Fun.   When I as a respectable prim old lady  coming through the "pre-check" lane still have to put up with hands down my pants (I'm not kidding!), the under wiring of my bra thoroughly examined, the bandages on my broken ankle removed,  my hands scoured for gun powder residue and my little "spot remover" pen taken away (!!), then you know it's getting bad.  Furthermore, much of this is either unnecessary or ineffective or both.

So there's the discomfort, and the expense of the real classes.  And the time involved - people say where are the young folk??  The poor sods are working every minute of the day, Americans work longer hours and take less time off than any other so-called civilized country!

Online classes, however, are burgeoning.  They're inexpensive, do not require travel, or vacation time.  You can "attend" whenever it suits you and they're surprisingly congenial.  I've been teaching online now for several years, first with Quilt University and currently with and there are numerous other venues.  I also have a year long master class involving monthly assignments and a lot of critiquing that I run myself.

I've discovered that I really think of the people in the classes - especially those who pop up again and again (thank you!) -  as friends, I feel I know them.  And they get to know each other.  And it's lovely just to go online and see what everyone is doing...and they can ask and I can answer questions a lot more easily than in a Real classroom. And I believe in real (though short and to the point) critiques - this is how we learn.  Because these are done on the internet, you can read and cogitate instead of having to react straight away as you would in a real life class.  Much more comfortable, and more effective because you can think through the suggestions that are made.

So I don't think taking classes is becoming less popular - but WHERE they are taken has changed.  In the same way that where we shop has changed, where we "borrow" our library books has changed.

And talking about online classes....I just happen to have one starting this Friday!!
It's called Inspired to Design and it's with  It's a really great intro to designing your own quilts based on photographs - your own - or others.  I say others because I do not advocate simply copying a photo -  not very creative and also there can be copyright problems.  But using a photo as a starting point for a design, and then adding in what you feel you want to emphasize, is just fine.  And creative.  So, if you'd like to be Inspired to Design.....then check out the class!
I promise you won't need to get your underwires examined!!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!  As always.....Elizabeth


Liz Kettle said...

Well said Elizabeth. Thanks for your insights.

Kathie Briggs said...

I was supposed to be in your class at QSDS but life interfered. Now with the change to my life online classes are probably the only option for me so I am glad to see more online offerings. I would have loved to have taken your Master Class but my life is currently in turmoil but I'm hoping you will be offering it again. I am hearing wonderful things about it.

Joanna said...

As a veteran of both in person workshops and online classes, I was interested to learn that the in person, 3 to 5 day, workshops aren't as popular as they once were. One factor may simply be the proliferation of such workshops, often in hard to reach locations. My one extravagence is Empty Spools this year, but it's a costly undertaking with airfare, room and board, etc. This is simply not doable for quilters who work and have limited budgets. And having taken classes on platforms like Craftsy, I can tell you they fit the time and $ budget a lot better. I can re-watch segments, ask questions, interact with other students, etc. I realize that such formats lend themselves better to specific techniques rather than broadly creative development. However, I know even the latter is possible online, having taken one of your Academy of Quilting classes.

pam in sw florida said...

I , too, have taken tons of classes both locally and nationally. I am sorry about QSDS dropping in popularity as it was great in the day.

I find most online classes, suck as Craftsy, are geared toward beginners.
I would enjoy the stimulation of experienced art quilters

Elizabeth Barton said...

yes I'll be offering the Master class again in 2016...if you're interested just email me for details elizabethmasterclass at gmail dot com .....and if you think it sounds good I can put you on the waiting list and be in touch in December.

The master class is geared towards the more experienced art quilter; it's not about techniques, it's about design and evaluation and improving. It's a great group!

Turtlemoonimpressions said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head here Elizabeth. Online learning has many advantages for me, the difficulty of traveling being one of the most trying. On my own time is of equal importance. That teachers of your caliber are available now for online classes is the deciding factor for me!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you Janis!! How lovely to be greeted with such a nice compliment when first opening up one's email on a morning!! I appreciate it...and look forward to "seeing" you in class. Elizabeth

Merran Phillips said...

I agree that online classes are a wonderful resource, but oh, to be at QSDS, surrounded by like-minded people, drawing on the energy and ideas of the people around you, the tactile force of the works in progress, the focus of people who will be in the classrooms till 11 at night to pursue an idea, the freedom from mundane distractions, the concentrated and immediate attention of an instructor, online classes cannot compete with that!

Elizabeth Barton said...

There is a lot to be said for the Real classes of course - a synergy of actuality!! Therefore I will be holding a Real Live Master Class on Cape Cod this June.
email for details!