Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Teaching and Learning

One of my students wrote to me thus, having done a workshop with Lauren Shanley

[..interesting work but the most critical piece of advice came from her talk the previous evening. she never never makes a piece unless it actively inspires her. i so resonated with that as am struggling with my picnic blanket trying to cut down the hours but losing myself in doing so!..]

She's right, of course.. For me it's not always possible to do absolutely with what I want, as I have to make commission work that will not always be to my taste (although I have been more inclined lately to say 'not my sort of thing' a bit more often..) and I have to support the workshop, which is almost equally a burden and a blessing.
But for you, if you make as a hobby and as love for the medium, you are perfectly right to make only what makes your heart sing.. There's no shame in putting something down and giving it more time or the boot.
I find that almost any good teacher or speaker will say something that is like an arrow to the heart of one's own ideas.. Sometimes it shakes you up, sometimes just confirms your ideas, sometimes it just seems that an expression or a phrase makes everything clear.  When I saw Gloria Loughman speak at the Quilters' Guild AGM in Hove a few years ago, she seemd to address me directly in the centre of her talk, looking straight at me and saying that I should follow what I wanted, not what was expected of me.  This was very valuable.  Later I emailed her to say thankyou, and had a simple and very personal email back which made me feel better still..
At this time I was just beginning to work on my Trees pieces and had little confidence in them.. Hundreds of large and small pieces later, I feel ready to move on.. Meanwhile, I still make small stuff for the shop and some of it is mightily tedious, but it is also nice to have bits and pieces for everyone.. not all can afford a big piece of work, and I would be hard-pressed to make enough sales to survive on the major works.. Or at least, so far..

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