I always enjoy perusing the many classes that are offered to those of us who pursue the art muse. There are teachers who are gifted facilitators. It’s as if they are tied in to each student’s soul: they pull a string here, tug a string there, and the work that pours forth now amplifies whatever that particular artist was doing before.
I would compare it to being in the presence of a person who has achieved a certain stage of enlightenment. Your consciousness level rises to meet theirs. With them, you experience what you have the capacity to become.
I had a taste of this amplification when I attended a Fran Skiles workshop. I was so ready for it: I had dreamed about it and prepared for it. My spirit was willing and my flesh co-operated. I had an amazing week of creating work that took me to a new level~I could feel it in my entire being.
Once you have a class like that under your wing, you are not satisfied with lying low, with an approach that only skims the surface. You want more than accumulating another new technique or two for your toolbox, as useful as they may be. You are eager to extend yourself. You want to soar with other inspired artists!
Picasso suggested that an artist could find inspiration, something worth communicating, everywhere he or she looked:
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
I agree, and apply to art the same dictum seasoned writers are fond of quoting: “write what you know.” I look around me, and cull images from my own life, my own house, my own heart. These are images that I truly know, that mean something to me. I can represent them with authenticity.
My emotions are intimately connected with art making, so I do things that will deliberately heighten my emotions. I read poetry, a potent fire starter for my imagination. A single line can evoke such emotion that I enter another zone and merely have to allow my hand to grasp a brush and some paint to start producing images that feel very powerful. A novel can actually have the same effect: a metaphor in a descriptive paragraph burns into my consciousness and my emotions start rising in temperature.
It is also exhilarating to look at images other artists have created, until a spark lights that emotional fire again, and my own images pour forth. Music is another emotion stimulator (although QUIET is my preferred state for “listening” to inner cues as I make art). And then there are the BIG EVENTS that come into every person’s life; if an amazing joy arises in my life, or something heart-wrenching threatens to break me apart, as an artist I can tap the accompanying emotions to produce art images.
All that said, when I study a class description, I search for indicators that inspiration is going to be an intentional part of the menu. (It can always arrive in the form of grace). For example:
She finds art making to be one of the most powerful ways to connect with her innermost essence while at the same time discovering her authentic voice. She enjoys the experimental and intuitive layers of creating, where she can explore inner and outer worlds simultaneously. She has a passion for sharing her love of creating with others,
LK Ludwig‘s bio includes the following:
With a strong belief in creating around what she knows, nature, parenting, love and life seep deeply into LK’s artwork, making it content rich and personally meaningful
Stephanie Lee and Misty Mawn are teaching a class together, called Two Heads are Better than One: Collaboration as Creative Fuel:
In a world full of creative genius from the amateur and the accomplished, it is not uncommon for a little fear to creep in every now and then. Fear of not being original, of not being creative enough, of appearing self-important, of having your hard won success be swooped up by another with apparent ease. But there is another side to the phenomenon of creativity. There is the side that hungers for collaboration and knows that the results can be mind-expanding magic and exponentially more than it could have ever been had the fear won out.
Then there is the “high quality workshop experience for artists” envisioned by Leslie Avon Miller:
The elements needed for successful employment, so they say, are zest and hope. People also respond to autonomy, the opportunity to use one’s strengths and connection with other people.
I have so much zest and hope I can leap out of bed in the morning when I get a chance to work on my ideas. And since I am doing this myself, I have plenty of autonomy. I think leading a workshop would fit all of the above requirements. So I don’t have to artificially develop or enforce focus, concentration and dedication because it is already built into the goal for me. That’s why it is an activity that calls to me “Leslie, come work on the workshop outline! It is so yummy!” My goal is in alignment with who I am being, not just what I am doing.
I have never taken a workshop with any of the facilitators mentioned above, but they are expressing what I want to hear. If an instructor conceives such goals for her class, it has excellent prospects of being a rich one.
It’s always a privilege to participate in a class act.