Friday, August 25, 2006

Art Unraveled 2006 – Wine, Women and Waxed Linen Thread

“Art Unraveled” is not unlike other art workshop retreats. There are numerous short classes offered on a variety of art and art/craft topics including paper arts, jewelry making, painting, drawing and fiber related subjects. The workshops are either all day or half day sessions. This was my second year of teaching at AU and must admit that it is time well spent.

I can’t say that it is the class offerings that makes it a special event. It is not uncommon to see the same instructors making a kind of circuit between similarly organized and mounted events. Art and Soul, Artfest, and the well remembered and loved Art Continuum retreats are just a sampling of the art workshop weekends that one can attend over the course of a year.

This may sound trite, but what makes it a special event are the people in attendance. Good natured folks (admittedly mostly women attending this thing) who are there to have a good time, learn a few things and eat too much.

Linda Young organizes AU to the last detail and the attention shows. The event runs smoothly and everyone is made to feel like the attention was undertaken just for them, personally. Complaints are minimal and generally the gripes are from folks who bring the grief upon themselves. They’d complain if they were buried in a solid gold coffin. 99.9% of the attendees and teachers are all smiles, regardless of the lack of sleep each receives during the course of their participation. Who can sleep when there are things to solder, shape, color, glue, stitch and transfer?

But complaints do occur now and again and though I have not received any about my classes, touch wood, I have been witness to some of it and have made the following observations:

The beefs are generally based on the fact that the student didn’t read the class description close enough to understand what the hell was going to happen in class. “But I thought I was going to make this and we ended up making that.” Well, folks…read the class description carefully. If you don’t understand the nomenclature, ask before assuming something.

"I don't get doesn't look like yours..." (said with a whine, please)
The project is not working out as it should because the student doesn’t listen to instructions or pay attention. If the REST of the class heard it and got it, I think you need to look in a mirror to find where the weak link might be.

Your project will NOT be perfect nor will it look like the instructor’s sample. This is the first time you’ve made the thing; it should take practice and increased skill to make one that may be more apt to meet with your muse’s approval. You are making a model, a practice piece for future reference.

“It's not working…this is too hard…you’re going too fast…” (again, a nice whine accompanying each statement)
You can get it if you’d merely stop whining about your lack of understanding. It better be hard to do, otherwise everyone would be making one of these. You’d probably do better and move along a little faster if you just concentrated on learning the skill or construction or technique or whatever it is you are doing rather than share with the world your inability to do any of those things. You can catch up, don’t worry about it. The teacher and the rest of the class will NOT abandon you. Despite what each of us secretly wishes for, this is not "Survivor" so you will not be voted off the island.

"Her classes are too costs too much to go...lower them so I can attend..."
You're correct, the classes are not cheap (but people, they ain't that expensive, either) because instructors are often not in it for purely altruistic motives. Some pay their mortgages through teaching classes and selling wares at the shows. However, teachers are NOT getting rich. Even those who have authored dozens of books often live very modestly. In fact, no one is getting rich doing this. Fortunately, most of the teachers and vendors I know do this because they enjoy meeting the people and are passionate about their art.

Certainly it’s not for the notoriety. It’s not that hard to get on the Carol Duvall show. If you can’t afford the class fees, don’t take the class. I know, it's not fair.

Remember, despite your deepest and most sincere beliefs, the world does not revolve around you. We instructors do care about you and want you to have a great time. We will help you in class as much as we can and provide as much one-on-one attention as we can afford without ignoring the other attendees. We want to give you good value for the money you paid but we don’t owe you our soul.

That covers most of the general complaints I’ve observed people make. I think it would be sad to be those people. Ya pays hard earned money, spend good daylight hours in a classroom all weekend and all you can do is to bitch because you didn’t finish the project? Do yourself and the other attendees a giant favor. Stay home. Or shut up. Or both.

All righty then, ahem, that being said…I had a wonderful time meeting some wonderful people over the course of a wonderful week. This is a retreat worth a three-peat.

Lisa R, Traci B (one and two), Juliana C, Lynne P, Richard S, Kelly K, Olivia R, Kathie S, Susan LK, Ginny, Michael DM, Chuck and all the rest - I have no complaints. We had a ball even though I ate too much and still need to catch up on my sleep.

See you all in a few. Can't wait.


KellyKilmer said...

Terry, This is one of the many reasons why we all love you!
*Amen* and well said!!!
Hope to see you again at AU 2007! I heard raves, raves and MORE raves about your classes...YOU are one of the best of the best!
*Thank you* for posting this.

Maryanne said...

I finally found your blog and am enjoying reading all of the earlier posts. The stories and essays are wonderful and I have always loved your poetry.

You probably do not remember me, but I was a student of yours many years ago in the Bay area. Anyway, I loved your classes.

This short tirade is so true, however. I have seen people in classes and after the class is over complain about the classes and the main problem was the student themselves. You nailed it, pal.

Hope to see you and take one of your classes again before too long.

T2 said...

KK and MA,
Thanks for the input. I hesitated to post this entry because it isn't the most positive perspective one could take...but I have seen and heard about so much of this kind of thing that I thought I'd speak my mind. Plus, it's my damned blog.

I know one of the responses might be that the instructors are not up to par or providing a positive atmosphere in which one might learn. But I have heard them and have found that even with some "not-so-great" teachers that a large degree of fault lies with the student/participant. I use myself as the basis for my position since there were times that I thought the professor or instructor was a waste of my valuable time when in fact, it was how I approached the material, etc.

I suppose in the final analysis, you get out what you put into something - or put into anything for that matter. If you approach it negatively, you will not get real positive results. If you approach it with a smile, you'll get 10 back and a very rewarding experience to boot.

I guess I'll try to post something more positive next time. HA!

Take care, ya'll

claudine hellmuth said...


so sad I missed you at AU! I was only there two days, so i didn't get to see many others.

T2 said...

I certainly missed seeing you as well. I noticed that you and antoher one of my favorite people, Doris Arndt, were both there and left before we arrived. Well, I'll probably be back next year and have some new stuff to share.

Hope to catch up with you soon. Oh yeah, LOVE the book, lady.