Tag Archives: face

teach what you want to learn

face-shapes-traced

simplest components from African mask (see last picture, below)

We’ve all heard that right?  We teach what we most want to learn.

On the eve of teaching another class at The Boston Center for the Arts, I ought to be asking, then, “What is it that I want to learn right now?”

Hmmmmm. How to take a motif, maybe, and ‘go deeper’ with it (whatever that means). But I know what that means.

teaching

making faces

Or here’s a corollary: we give the advice we need to follow. This is extremely useful for me personally, because two of the people I routinely give advice to are Oppositional, with a capital “O”. Sometimes all I can do, is turn it around.

What advice have you given recently? Don’t fudge it by scanning memory for advice you WANT to hear. I recommend just thinking of the last three things, the most recent things, you have said to someone… in an effort to be helpful.

I’m always telling certain people to be more organized, or more responsible (and yes, yes, that applies here) but here’s the most recent thing offered:  yesterday, I suggested to someone that she partner written memoir passages that are painful with those that are joyful, so that the juxtaposition told a story, on top of those told in the passages and, possibly, to make it bearable to write the really tough stuff.  My idea for her was that a one-two step like that had the potential to turn into a dance, given sufficient air and trust.  So? Trust. Give work air? Partner the ‘uck’ with the ‘yahoo’? That’s probably pretty good advice for me right now.

four-faces-blue

building from the bottom up

Little changes make big differences

Little changes make big differences

eye lid adjustment

eye lid adjustment

looking askance

looking askance

add patterns!

add patterns!

Tomorrow’s adult class will be ‘more sophisticated’.

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

But, I’m wondering, maybe the more you break a thing down, the more complex it becomes. This I have seen time and time again in the manner of Jude Hill‘s designs and thoughts and cloths… the simpler she makes it, the more avenues spin off in every direction.

So maybe for the adults, I should make it EVEN SIMPLER!

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Steal Like An Artist”

beginning

select subject and materials

The book “Steal Like an Artist” is a great and inspiring volume. You can read it in an hour and a half, and should, many times.

Here are a few of artist/author Austin Kleon’s liberating and clarifying concepts:

  1. “Nobody is born with a style or a voice… We learn by copying.”
  2. Copy your heroes.
  3. Copy from more than one source.
  4. “You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.”

In that vein, today I celebrate a cloth face put together in preparation for an upcoming children’s quilting workshop that I’ll be teaching at the Boston Center for the Arts.*  This exercise served two purposes. One, it acquainted me with the project on the tactile level – obviously important when teaching. Two, it gave me a chance to express something, so there is less chance I will insert myself into my students’ work – always a peril for teachers, particularly of young people.

tacking-ear

tacking ear down

So, from whom do I steal here? At least three artists.

One, Jude Hill. Jude is a master quilter whose techniques and philosophy I have been studying (and copying) for quite some time now. Her teaching style is completely geared to Number 4, above — in other words, she isn’t trying to show her students how to make work like hers. Rather, she is openly and consciously trying to get her students to SEE like she does. Philosophy and process instead of recipes. (her blog: Spirit Cloth on sidebar)

How is her influence present? This time, primarily in technique and a quality of attention:

  1. The attention to the materials themselves (selecting fabrics with a nice hand, easily penetrable by a needle).
  2. The use of invisible basting to adhere the layers.
  3. Managing the layers by carefully inserting batting under face only.
  4. Hand sewing some components together prior to basting the entire piece – eliminating need for numerous pins or glue.
assembling eye BEFORE all-over basting

assembling eye BEFORE all-over basting

Who else?  Susan Carlson – the wonderfully talented pictorial quilter from Maine, whose collage-style technique I learned in 2001.  Her influence:

  1. An illustration approach to rendering the subject.
  2. Building layers from the bottom up.
  3. A liberal combination of patterns.
couching a single strand of satin cord

couching a single strand of satin cord

The third and perhaps most important artist:  the sculptor of the mask. Unknown. Gbi artist, Liberia, early twentieth century.

side by side - eyes not finished

side by side – eyes not finished

I would like to try this again, because I missed on the proportions – that lovely length to the face and the broad, regal forehead got a little squashed in my version. I needle-sculpted the cheeks a little, but next time I would want to use color to add light around the nose and on one-half of the forehead.

Apropos of ‘missing’ (I don’t really like the final product all that much, in fact) – I’d like to add how critical being able to screw up and try again is for creative endeavor. My most favorite spokesman on this is Ken Robinson, the English education specialist. Clearly other people find him worth listening to as well — the last time I posted this link, it had been viewed 7MM times. It is up to 16MM views now!

round-one

All layers together, with some embellishment

*  I will be teaching “Patchwork Faces” – a workshop for children, on May 18, 2013 from 10:30 to 12:00. You can register here:

http://bcaonline.org/public-programs/families-connect.html

Then, on June 1, from 10:30 until 1:00, I will teach a class for adults called, “Sew What? Improv Quilting”

http://www.bcaonline.org/visualarts/mills-gallery/now-showing.html

Both class are offered through the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
617-426-5000

the blonde

Last week, I tried to turn a sketch into a quilt, hoping to capture the same quickness of construction and freshness of line.  It was a disaster because I was trying to copy something I had already made and wasn’t really looking at the fabric.

Once I started looking at the fabric, and forgot about the sketch, the face kind of assembled itself.  Originally, I thought I would overlay this with some dense machine quilting.  Now, I’m not so sure.  One thing IS for sure -“the blonde” is designated for show/sale on December 3 at the New Art Center, so she will be finished within the week (when I have said THAT last?!!)

K thinks she looks a little like me.  I can see that, but she reminds me more of my mother, or at least, my mother’s generation during their toddler-caring years.