Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pirate's Gold Pilot Class

Pirate’s Gold pilot, the ides of March, Monday. The hardest day of all. I felt like a not over warm zombie at the end of the class. Fortunately there was little for me to clean up (poor Rita), so I was able to get my stuff together and get out of there. With the time change, my sense of timing was a little off, but I am sure that no one complained that the class was forty minutes or so short. A four day class is like a hike across mountains--steep whether uphill or downhill and never-ending. As was pointed out in class, at seminar there are two-hour lunch breaks and a whole day’s break between the second and third day. We seven had no such luxury.

I saw color awareness grow in every one of the students. Possibilities were suddenly open. I was grateful to have Debbie in the class. I know it was a bit frustrating for her, but she was essential to the pilot. I hope she had a good time and learned a little about color. I believe it was Sandy who said that when the class started she didn’t believe that four days could be filled with just the study of color. We changed her mind.

I am making good changes to the syllabus. I think the order of the class will remain the same, but I am including more info in the student syllabus. I have some corrections to make where my teaching notes and the student syllabus did not quite match up. They will match perfectly by September.

Thanks to everyone for making these arduous four days happen. But I especially thank Rita for her unflagging goodwill and hospitality. Thanks to everyone for bringing goodies--they were delights for lunchtime and for afternoon breaks. And thanks for everyone’s thoughtfulness and time in getting this unwieldy rainbow on the road to seminar.

Pirate’s Gold pilot, Day 3, Sunday. This was an easier day for all of us. There were fewer exercises, but they are harder because we had the optical illusions to illustrate. It was winter out and the light had a bright, flat quality. So some of the illusions were harder to achieve.

We are getting tired, but are still eager to learn. I think that they are absorbing all the “book learning” I can dish out to them. Now they mostly have to go out and experience for themselves how color works in the real world.

We are a bit ahead of schedule, so I inserted some enrichment--actually some of the lecture from my original color class, A Fine and Dancing Light. This was very welcome by all. They had a chance to think about color rather than madly getting paper exercises done.
As far as I am concerned, the biggest thing we did today was to obviate the need for needle and thread in one of the exercises. We all decided that the exercise is better done in paper. That is good news. It is also is a sign to the whole class that the pilot class system works and that a teacher can change her plan of attack because of experiences within the pilot class.

Tomorrow is the last day. We will finish up the exercises and start thinking about our own work. We will work outside comfort zones tomorrow.

I hope it doesn’t snow again.

Pirate’s Gold pilot, Day 2, Saturday the 13th of March. This was a much better day. Only one or two major glitches. I feel that everyone has settled in and become acquainted. We even had a few laughs today. We finished up the CCCs, the Classic Color Combinations, and went into the study of Value, certainly the hardest section of the whole class. Even the least experienced grasped value very quickly and was able to peg works of art into the correct Value Key and category. Near the end of the day we went over the difference between Value and Saturation. And everyone could distinguish between them. Congratulations to us!
Tomorrow we finish up value with a couple of Value tests (yes, as cruel as it is, even ladies of a certain age have to take tests) and then we go on to the next topic: Optical Illusions in Color.

Today we had more biscotti from Anna. Again very delicious. We had cranberry bread from Rita, and more of the coffee cake from Debbie.

Debbie is making great strides both in design and color. From being a neophyte in the studies, she has gone on to conquer the first few steps. It is a pleasure to watch her.

I am becoming better acquainted with Sandy and find her very droll. She is a good artist who had a fine, innate sense of design.

Sue is one of my favorite people. She is fun, witty, and very generous. I took her out of her comfort zone a couple of times today, but she easily swanned through the work. Good job.

Patricia is as wry as ever. She does good work and often comments how my art sensibilities and hers do not match. Well, no, they don’t. But that doesn’t stop her from learning and me from teaching. We get along very well--except for focal point!

Anna--still waters run deep. I have the feeling she knows everything I try to teach her. Today I tried to take her out of her comfort zone and was unable to even when I switched her up. Cool as a cucumber.

And Rita I am afraid I am working to a frazzle. At least when she is done with us in two more days, she will have most of Rainbows Bend under her belt. So she is getting a twofer for all her work. I believe that she is seeing new design possibilities around her. She is the best. Oh, and she told us to call her Mother Rita. Well, I had a mom and it didn’t work out well, so we will just have to be good friends.

Pirate’s Gold pilot Day One. This day was a rough one for me. The material I am teaching used to be so close to me and I was used to its rhythms and nuances. But now that I have not taught it in its entirety for most of a decade I have lost that awareness. I thought the first day was choppy and badly paced. The students are a dream team. There are six of them in various stages of expertise in handling color. Debbie our newest member is very brave in even taking the class. But she is willing and very game to try. Our three most experienced members are handling the class information very well. They are taking risks in their little composition and doing explorations into designing. This is exactly how the class is planned--to study composition (design theory) side by side with color theory.

Now we are going to pay a little more attention to the compositions as well as the color, discussing both sides of the coin. Two students, Sandy and Sue, second cousins by marriage, are doing very well. They both come from another part of fiber art. Sue is a world-class tatter and Sandy makes greeting cards besides doing cross-stitch. I feel a bond with each of them. Early in my career I taught quite a bit of needle lace and even tatting on a needle once. But Sue and I are old friends anyway. And I make dozens of greeting cards every year for my own use and to sell. In fact I regard the making of greeting cards as my hobby as opposed to embroidery that is my vocation.

Rita is our hostess. It is in her cozy little room with the perfect light that we are settled for the four days. Rita is also taking the pilot of Rainbows Bend, Carole’s and my ICC on color theory. We have now advance beyond the first lesson of the class into new territory for Rita. I hope she can put Pirate’s Gold to good use with Rainbows Bend.

Despite my rocky start, I feel the second day is going to go much smoother. That is what a pilot is for--to smooth over pebbles in the path. So my thanks to Patricia, Anna, Debbie, Sue, Sandy, and Rita for putting up with me this first day. Now let’s plunge into the second!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A day of laughter, talk, stitching, and warm hearts.

I am just back from a stitch-in at Jane Moses’s house. This is our regular first Tuesday of the month stitch-in. Originally it had a name, but I have forgotten it. Today someone suggested a new name--the CYTT. And in case you don’t instantly know what that stands for, it is the Can You Top This. And we are not talking about stitching here. We are talking about stories from our long and varied lives.

At long last at over sixty I seem to fit in somewhere. I have always felt I was an oddball in any chapter meeting over the years. Maybe with age comes wisdom. And wisdom in my case is just letting myself fit in. I did feel like I fit in at the last national seminar I was at--the one in Louisville in 2008. In the evenings a group of us would meet in the hotel bar. We would eat and talk, and laugh all evening. It was a special group made up of Ann Erdmann, Carole Rinard, Jette and Roy Finlay, and a few others who would drop by. Those evenings and these daytime meeting here in New Mexico make my life, which is in a great deal of turmoil, bearable and more than bearable.

On top of all this, four of the people who were in my blackwork pilot were there, Jane Moses, Ellie Ames, Patricia Toulouse, and Bert Kroening. Bert had actually finished a small sampler based on the class! I was so proud. She took what I taught and turned it into her own work, adding color and her own personal panache.

Ellie was hard at work on her lighthouse sampler. It looked magnificent with the lighthouse and some of the surrounding stitching done. I do not doubt that this is a prize winner. And Jane, who is one of the busiest people I know, has worked on designing new stitches thoughtfully and carefully. She spoke design to me! I was so pleased.

So Intense Pattern is a success--just reaching one person in a class is an achievement, but these four have all been affected. There may be more out there (oh, I did receive a nice note from Peggy Matthews last week thanking me for a great class and saying that she was continuing to work in blackwork.) So for me the day was a Good Day.

I am still working on the visual aids for the color class, Pirate’s Gold. I teach that in less than two weeks. Teaching color is always an exciting proposition. I often learn more than the students.

I thank Jane, Patricia, Rita (for driving, too), Bert, Ellie, Angelica, Jerry, Debbie, and Dorothea for a day for hilarious hours, for warm fuzzies, and for just being there.