Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day One With Katie: Fear Strikes

When I take or teach a class, I usually write about the class and toss in a few photos – a fun record of my experience. When I woke up last Saturday, I had a little tummy ache of nervousness and realized this is how I usually feel before a class: the old critic’s voice starts rumbling to life, a subtle whisper of doubt murmurs soothingly in my ear. As I sipped my morning latte that morning and wrote in my journal, I wrote about the feelings I was experiencing – I acknowledged my fear and said a little prayer that I would approach the class with fearlessness and boldness.

Fear always takes me by surprise, especially since I facilitate classes and workshops myself. I teach others to silence their inner critic, to not think of creativity or making art as “work,” but as play. Yet there I was, replaying the same old tapes: what if I can’t think of anything creative to do. What if the person next to me is a better artist. What if I’m a fraud and I should stop pretending that I am an artist and just move on with my life. My journal writing helped quelch some of the negative thoughts and then it was time to go.

As I arrived at Innerstandings, the studio of the divine Diane Havnen-Smith, I was reminded of how some of my students must feel: a little scared of what to expect, apprehensive about having the ability to learn the techniques, or just plain inferior to what everyone else is creating. I know, because it was how I was feeling as I settled into my place at the work table.

Fortunately, the instructor, Katie Kendrick, is a warm, loving, generous woman. I’ve taken another workshop from her and been in a class with her, so there was familiarity and I knew she would be a gentle and encouraging guide. The class being offered, Creating Collage Faces, sounded doable when I signed up, but I’ve had little experience drawing or painting faces and this was a class devoted to that. I guess the idea of collage made me feel more comfortable with the process of creating faces. The other reason I signed up for this class was the fact it scared me: I don’t know much about constructing faces and I want to. So many of the visual artists I’m drawn to (Katie, Judy, Diane, Misty, to name a few) all use faces in their work and I want that same creative freedom.

I had a realization as I was working on my projects: I often go into a class expecting to create a piece worthy of selling or hanging on the wall. I’m learning something, for Pete’s sake, usually for the first time! How crazy to expect a beautiful, finished piece of art. The teachers of these classes are very intimate with their procedures and offer instruction from a base of experience. Light bulb moment #1.

Several of my thoughts throughout the day led me to another ah-ha moment: Practice. Practice. Practice. I don’t do much of it, but it is a necessary part of creating art, or pretty much doing anything. I have long periods where I don’t do any art, any play. Then I dash off, take a class, and expect a masterpiece.

So how did the day of creating faces go? It was challenging and I was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I was working on three faces simulteaneously and at one point, Katie came and stood beside me; she sensed that I was struggling and gently pointed out that I was working too hard, forcing the piece I was working on. She reminded me to work fast and intuitively rather than dwelling on each decision. It was just what I needed. I shifted gears, picked up a different piece, and things started to fall into place a little easier and I managed to move it along to near completion.

Here's a little photo stroll:

Our first warm-up exercise involved oil pastels, black paint, gesso, and a few acrylic paints on telephone and atlas pages. It was freeing and fun!

Then it was time to begin our faces! The blank page awaits . . .

Here's what transformed:

I don't feel like my collaged face is complete yet, but at the end of the day, here is how she looked:

1 comment:

gl. said...

yeek. boy do i understand this one. but you were brave, dayna, and that's all that's required. and it sounds like you've found a safe space at diane, which i think is really important.

i love the photo stroll. how did the face outlines get transfered from the photocopy onto the paper? (DSCN8351.JPG)