I confess. After much hesitation, I took an on-line class. Hesitation because of the possibility that another artist’s hand might appear in my own work. Certain artists promote taking classes while others say forget it because you need to develop your own voice. The voice, I’ve got down, but can it be corrupted?
I wanted to:
1. Experience an on-line class to see how it worked from a pedagogical point of view (methods, materials, handouts, videos, etc.) in case I should want to go back to teaching and use the new technologies.
2. Learn something new and a class would be good to push me outside my comfort zone. I wanted to do more sketching, but have it linked to textiles
3. Participate in a forum, meet some like-minded artists/artisans through the internet.
1. The methods were interesting, the teacher was informative, the materials were satisfactory.
2. It was more of a review, pulling up things I had forgotten, yet the class did push me gently outside my comfort zone. When faced with the empty page of an assignment, I found resistance and was reminded of why I didn’t do an art major in college. Ideas fled with an empty canvas glaring at me--I never have this problem when working with fabric and stitch. I sketch more often now in order to overcome the problem of the paralyzing blank page.
3. The forum did not develop: I was the only person participating. Nobody is to blame. It appears to be a risk of the on-line class format. Students may not be motivated to actively participate because they must squeeze it in with the occurences of daily life. To attend a class in person requires more of a commitment.
4. I finished a small project that began as my sketch, which I transferred to a piece of fabric. I used outline stitch as filler, plus running stitch and a few French knots.
Here's the rub: this looks like another artist’s work. And this brings me to another Mrs. H(e)art story.
Mrs. H(e)art, my first art teacher when I was eight, made only one mistake, but it was memorable. I was working diligently, but with some frustration, on a floral still life when she came to my easel. She must have been in a hurry as others needed her help as well. She took my brush, dipped it in black paint and with two deft strokes added an elegant outline that suggested the form of flowers.
When I took my watercolor home, my mother raved, I mean, she gushed, she went wild. She had it matted and framed professionally (it seemed huge) and hung it in the living room in a prominent position so that every visitor saw it and heard my mother gush further. I felt like a fraud because Mrs. H(e)art had made that painting work. I felt shame. And I never admitted the awful truth, until today, that the painting wasn’t mine.
The moral of this story is that one should never touch someone else’s work. It also helps clarify my feelings about the on-line class project--I feel like it isn’t mine because another artist’s hand has touched it (figuratively). I feel dissatisfaction because I didn’t come up with the methods, the style, and the colors. Will I take another class? Only in something that I cannot acquire by myself, something life-threatening such as glass blowing or welding.
And yet, my class piece pleases me and I made a second one:
Since I can't show these embroideries as my own art,
perhaps I’ll make a purse with them...