Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Report on Session one with Eric

One of my goals in working with Eric is to create more personal work. While my work is a statement on our environmnet, I don't feel I am revealing myself enough in the work. Don't get me wrong I a not dis-satisfied with the body of work I have created. There is just something more I want to express. During our discussion, the first assignment he gave me was to move away/stop using my current artist statement regarding my work being about man's relationship to nature and how we separate ourselves from that which we are. Uh oh! We are already in trouble; this is the foundation of the imagery from which my work flows. Still knowing if I am going to learn anything from this, I said "okay." Like this was going to be as easy as deleting a sentence on a computer. Didn't realize what a tail spin this would come to until later.
His next suggestion, y'all are gonna love this one, no more leaf quilts until I finish our time together. There goes my career down the tubes, but I said "absolutely,sure not a single one." His point being that if I continue to work in the same way I have the danger of falling into a cliche of myself. It is obviously too easy for me to do this, almost as if there is a formula that I can't help but use. As a matter of fact, I am not to speak to nature as subject in any of the work.
Suggestions: put myself in a non-obvious place ( still thinking on that one)
Can I be more personal for a three month period?
Not that there is anything wrong with beauty but can I find a voice that is more experimental, edgy and avoids mechanical abstraction? And at the same time avoid production line work?
Finally how to be in a more painterly tradition in an art form that is traditionally based on cultural icongraphy?
I am to spend as much time drawing, painting, sewing as possible? When I told him I travel 18 to 23 weeks a year to teach....obviously, looking for a way out of this. His immediate reply was "I don't buy that for one minute. You can find a pencil and paper anywhere." Talk about not cutting me any slack.
He comforted me by commenting that I was going to feel very uncomfortable and loopy while working through this. As a matter of fact, he wished me many loopy days with great glee. Also in a gentle, kind way, he prepared me for the fact that I just might end up with some really ugly or unsuccessful work (moi, say it isn't so?), but to keep on pushing beyond that...the voice would come.
This is the Reader's Digest condensed version but hits the main points for this week's session. Our next session is 17 January before I leave for Australia.
My apologies for such a long post but want to close with what happended yesterday when I went to the studio to start my assignment. I will try to be brief..merrily I go off to the studio, prepare to do some work with acrylics ( not wanting to commit anything to fabric until these sessions are over). Got all my supplies nice, neat and ready to work and was immediately filled with self-doubt....first, I am still unsure what it is I am trying to get to and second, why should I change from the new work I have started?
I was so uncomfortable in my own studio I could only do three quick acrylic sketches and then had to get out of the studio immediately....practically ran down the hall to get away from the dreaded room.
Day proceeds as store, cooking, got out a piece I am quilting on seeking a place of comfort....and then suddenly, when the house was quite, everyone tucked safely in bed....a break through,I pulled out the sketck book and started putting lines on paper. Not caring if it was good art just comfortable to be working. There was a flow that has been absent in the morning studio session. I still haven't clue what I am doing or where this will end up taking me but maybe just the tiniest spark has made it between my ears.
Sorry to go on so long, if you have direct questions since I did skim over our session fairly fast, please email me, I would be delighted to discuss more of his approach with you. Hope this explains some of the aspects. BTW, I am energized about getting to work today so something is afoot.


Debra said...

Suggestions: put myself in a non-obvious place ( still thinking on that one)
Can I be more personal for a three month period?

Hey, Gabrielle, I'm just shooting my mouth off here... but can you put yourself into the middle of city?? Can you find beauty in man-made as opposed to nature-made structure?

Maybe take a small watercolor set and do some plein air painting? or sketching? I would say this is fairly non=obvious to me. But then maybe I'm too literal.

Gerrie said...

Oh, this is fun. Will he actually look at the work you have done? I will stay glued to hear any updates!!

gabrielle said...

Hey Debra, Great minds etc. I have been thinking about bridges all day today. Stayed uo so late last night, I'm a little fried but the bridges idea seems to hold some connection for me....thank you for the ideas..I always knew you were a clever girl.

gabrielle said...

Hi Gerrie, Yes, I am supposed to email jpegs to him when I feel I am on to something or need a push. Scary but good, no?

Sarah Ann Smith said... expand on what Debra about going someplace a dump or junkyard, and finding something beautiful and intriguing there....the juxtaposition of angles and textures and rust in scrapped metal, or the reflection of a cloud in an oily puddle at the dump...something really waaaaayyyy off?

Intriguing...can't wait to see where you go with this! Cheers, Sarah

Deborah said...

Can I join in on the great minds? I thought "architecture" when I read that about non-obvious places. I like this bridge idea. Lots of symbolic themes there too. Of course, you knew that.

Rayna said...

Wow, Gabrielle. Good! I agree about the leaf quilts - there is so much more to you than that. On the other hand, he might tell me to be less personal - and that would be tricky, too. The whole thing is scary but will probably be the best thing you've done. I want to see some sketches.

jenclair said...

Eric had no idea that he was actually coaching an entire Web Ring, did he? Yet look at the interesting ideas and suggestions that were inspired by his session with you and your sharing of your responses. I feel like a cheerleader and a student at the same time!

I love taking part in the process, Gabrielle, and thanks for letting us all in on your creative journey.

Valeri said...

This was so interesting as at the moment I'm hung up on nature totally. So it will be interesting to see where you go. Like the rest my first thought was architecture,epecially churches as ours are so old, but often I'll also look at things involving cogs and wheels...inside of a car engine, that sort of thing. One of the themes for the City & Guilds creative studies exam is Man-made Structures and the students always loved it.

gabrielle said...

Ladies of the architectural scholl, thank you for validating the direction I had been considering. We will see what happens...I am still so drawn to non-representational and abstract but hey, who said you can't do architecture in that style. Jenclair, thanks for the cheerleading, I have a feeling I am going to need it. Val, nature comes to easy to me which is why he wants me to move away and be uncomfortable. He would probably move someone else in another direction. To the Debs, y'all must have some sort of mental telepathy thing going. I may have to change my name to Debra or some variation there of.

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