Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Workshop on abstraction – getting into the swing?

I have set myself a special challenge at the beginning of this year – I signed up for an online class with Lisa Call, “Abstraction”. I’ve admired Lisa’s work since I first saw pictures in a presentation of Nancy Crow’s class. I was awed by the description Nancy gave of how Lisa structures her life and gets so many things done. Sometimes I still feel daunted when I read her blog entries, even though quite a few people have told me that they think the nearly same thing about me. Meanwhile Lisa has quit her day job and is working as a full-time artist and teacher. (Here you can see how she planned to structure her day just after quitting the day job.)

I had first considered taking a class with Lisa in the past fall when I knew that following the opening of the “Inspiration Bauhaus” exhibition in Alfeld I would be slightly less focussed on getting stuff done for a deadline, and thought I might need new input to give myself a creative boost. But the fall classes started a couple of weeks before the opening, and I am glad that I postponed until now.
The first week of the workshop has ended. And it has been difficult. The first assignments were sent out on January 4th, but we were on vacation until the 6th, with only limited internet access. So I could download the file onla a day later when there wasn’t really enough to start doing any of the exercises any more as we were already beginning to pack up. I had thought I would dedicated the first two days after our return fully to doing the assignments. But we returned to a house with a broken heating system and the days were busy trying to get the thing fixed – and it was cold in the house! Have you ever tried to work with concentration while you are layered with five sweaters, have cold hands, and need to drink lots and lots of hot tea to maintain a decent level of body warmth?
Thursday required some preparations for a weekend of teaching a new class in Essen, and on Friday I left early in the morning. Finally I had some leisure on the train to work on some of the sketches, catch up on the reading and setting my mind on the topic of the workshop. It is interesting to be switching back and forth between being a student myself and then teaching a workshop for two days. Does me good.

I did not fully finish my assignment, just had no time to put one of the sketches into a textile something, so during the first week I have already managed to fall behind. But I am not fretting about this. I think that doing the drawings and going through various stages of abstraction was more important for me right now than actually getting it fully transformed into any finished textile something. If I have time after finishing the assignments and exercises of week 2 I may go back and work on the first piece. 
At least I know which one of my various line drawings I would choose to do something to: 

When it is finished, of course, you should
not be able to see any more that these were bottles...

It should be possible, because the next weeks are supposed to be a bit more quiet. We will see. In any case it will be a continuous challenge for the next nine weeks to rearrange my time management and fit this in. But I am looking forward to it very much as I felt a deep desire to get new input. I will be busy, even if I am not going away anywhere in the next few weeks.


  1. I'm sure that you are going to gain so much from this class. I also did it with Lisa and she is a very generous teacher, so much so that I went on to do her Working in a Series class. The classes certainly made a huge difference to my work.

  2. i agree with Maggi. I look at my new work and can see its foundations in the Abstraction and Working in a Series classes. I have also been in the Masterclass this year which has had similar influence. I would be nowhere near when I am now with my art if it were not for Lisa.

  3. Those are encouraging remarks, thanks Maggi and Helen. I am enjoying it a lot, and this week I am a bit better 'on the mark' with my assignment, although I may not be able to catch up with putting last week's design into fabric just yet. I am definitely learning a lot - today I played around with my still rather basic knowledge of photoshop when working on the assignment. Which is also very helpful...