Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Learning from the Masters



I came across this website when I was thumbing through a magazine yesterday. When I saw this opening page, I immediately wanted to take her workshop. Why? Because I figured I could just watch what she does and ask questions and learn a ton of useful information.
Just from the picture I can see stuff I didn't know before, and I have used pastels for a long time. She has a great set up there, plus the gloves! It never occured to me to use gloves, but what a superb idea. Then there is the towel below her easel, for wiping clean the sticks, and brushes for blending, and spray stuff to fix the paintings. All at her fingertips. Wow.

So this got me thinking...why don't I just make a quilt in my classes and have the students watch for a day, ask me anything and then do their own work after that?
If I were taking a week long class with someone I would want to know their tricks, and maybe be afraid to ask what it is that makes them do what they do. But it seems like this is not the way workshops are run. Certainly not one day classes. But they could be...if I decide to do this. Putting myself in the student's role is a good way of looking at this. I would want to know where the teacher gets her ideas, and see how she brings the idea through to the finished work. How does she know when it is good or not? Or when to stop? Or when to leave something out or add just that one thing that makes the work sing? These are all the questions we face alone in the studio. No one is there to answer, but if the teacher could make it easier to ask before the fact, perhaps we could all benefit.

When I taught at the Hudson Valley Art Quilt Workshop last April, the room was set-up for painters' demonstrations, with an overhead mirror above the worksurface. This was specifically for the students to see each brushstroke the teacher made.
I was teaching quilting of course, and because the students were working independently I was free to make quilts along with them during the week. One or two made comments that it was good for them to watch me work and that alone taught them alot. Bingo!

So I am considering changing the structure of some of my longer (2-5 day) classes, to do this very thing, and hopefully it will be valuable to the students.


And now for a clever title... O boy, for this I need help. Any suggestions?

Roman Stripes

about 18" square

Cottons, fused, machine quilted.

O By the way, I sold this piece unfinished at the quilt show this weekend, and just got it quilted. It will be shipped today.

14 comments:

  1. Mel, I love the idea of watching you create. However I would get frustrated watching you for a day and not being able to practice what I'm watching. Perhaps you could do "mini demonstrations" throughout the day? I took a class with an artist who demonstrated technique prior to turning us loose. I however, liked to "hang around her" and see how she worked and never felt I got enough of that ... I think the key is balance between "demonstrating" and allowing time for students to practice and work on their own. I think the idea of sharing tips and lessons learned is incredibly helpful -- which is why I love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an excellent idea! I know I would love to see demos as a part of workshops! It falls right under the excitement of actually being in the artists studio space which thrills me!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree that all day is too much. And really, it doesn't take that long to make a quilt top anyway!
    A combination of demos and doing is perfect! In fact that could work into the title.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How about the name of that new show - Help Me Help You

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a great idea. And you know, that would be a great DVD for folks who can't come and take workshops with you. Get Dave shopping for a video camera setup!

    ReplyDelete
  6. anomaly@cablelan.net2:33 PM

    Hey Ms Mel,

    How about"Play Along with Melody...Interactive Art Quilting" ?

    Anne in Sidney British Columbia

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous6:40 PM

    How about "Master Works/Mini Art Demos"

    ReplyDelete
  8. How about 'Show and try' workshops?
    This is a great idea, and from what I have seen and read on your blog it would be a wonderful experience with you teaching it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. David Walker used to do this in his classes. He would gather everyone around, put on the evocative music, and working intuitively, create a small (maybe 5 X 7) quilted piece. Took maybe 20 minutes or half an hour.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A class like this would sorely tempt me. I've wittnessed David Walker's demonstration and was engrossed in the dialog he had with himself about his options and why he chose to take the piece in the direction it end up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great idea, Melody. You could even work upright on an easel if that suited. In the last workshop here (Hudosn River Valley Art Workshops) everyone worked upright on easels. (16 students, 16 tables with sewing machines, 16 easels set up along the walls and still room to have chair races. ;-) This not only let the students easily watch the teachers demo but also watch what everyone else was doing. It allowed people to step back from their work to see how it looked from a distance.

    You're class here in March is almost filled to your max. I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow! What a bunch of great ideas! I am really turned on by the demonstration-type class you suggested. Go for that - I think it is an excellent idea. REally.
    And I love this Roman Stripes! All those little bitty quilt blocks bunched together. It really gets my juices flowing! I want to try!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I taught writing to middle school students for a long time, and one of the recommended methods is to let the students see the teacher write. (In education jargon, "modeling the behavior." ) I would either compose on the overhead and let them watch, or write at my desk when they did and we would all share. Students were amazingly interested in this, and it seems to be as effective any techniques, combined with other methods. What you describe in a workshop seems very similar to me. Why not try it?

    ReplyDelete
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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com