Friday, July 16, 2010

"Traveling Conversations" Workshop

Early the next morn around 9am, following the Reception, our trio, Jean Warren, Floy Zittin and myself, gathered at the McClellan Ranch to teach our "Traveling Conversations" Workshop. We'd warned most of the participants that in addition to this whole collaborative process being unpredictable, that they were going to be part of an experiment in teaching. Since the three of us had, as far as we knew, vaguely followed ideas we'd picked up somewhere in the Universe, imparting that process to others was truly going to be new to us too. They were all great sports and very willing.

Once we got the tables arranged so as to be in the shade, Floy began with an introduction to the process we'd following and the sequence of that plan. First we'd work on gathering visuals via sketchbooks or cameras, from around us. We trekked to the creek, back past the native garden and over to the animal area. So with images dancing in our heads . . . we start the first exercise.

This process will replicate the 5 x 7 inch group of sketches we mailed which required individual entries, responding to previous artists individual entries. We took twenty minute intervals to paint and then, pass on your piece to the next artist. They in turn, paint a response to the initial piece . . . then, repeat the process. We laid the 5 x 7 inch pieces all out on the table in sequence with the pieces to which each was responding. It was fascinating to see what triggers or ideas resulted from previous artists pieces (starting of sequence goes from top down to bottom). Sometimes you could visually see the connection,
others were entirely emotional.

After we broke for lunch, we moved onto the collaborative work within one sheet of watercolor. Using an 11 x 15 inch size, everyone started with an image taking up one quarter of the paper. After twenty minutes, we passed the pieces to new owners. We repeated this twice, and on the third "pass" the paper was returned to the original artist and they were given the assignment of attempting to pull the piece to a "successful" completion. When I got my "start" back, I was shaken, "how in the world can I bring this into balance with a focal area and unite all the stray elements?" Mine, shown here went before "critique" receiving the suggestion of adding more green/foliage to bottom right corner and perhaps add more of the "mystery bubbles". But everyone made a dramatic effort and several of the pieces were very good.

Overall, we assessed that most of the artists who participated garnered some sense of response and/or collaborative process. It was like "head-scratching" efforts at the beginning of the Workshop but, by the end of the second exercise, many participants seemed to grasp how to lasso the elements they had been "given" and direct the painting towards success.

What we'd hoped to open up to those in the workshop was, how to take on that "dog" of a painting, with awful elements and numerous problems, and with fresh eyes launch into solving challenges.

For me, it was invigorating actually seeing the process that Jean and Floy and I had been doing for five years, extremely condensed yet bringing about the same learnings and creativity. Who is to say who grew more from this class, the participants or the instructors? I'll never tell :)

1 comment:

Oma3 said...

What a fascinating process... I wish I had been there.