Sunday, July 15, 2012

the Nancy Crow workshop at Shakerag Finale

I must also tell you of another go getter of a woman who has a way with color and fabrics, my friend Cathy.  We met back in April at the Gee's Bend retreat in Alabama.  I was excited about my upcoming workshop with Nancy at Shakerag and told her about it.  Cathy was able to obtain a spot in the workshop and we had a fine reunion.  She is such a kind and giving person, full of energy and fun.  An amazing woman to watch in action.  Check out her blog, to see her progress on composition # 2.

                     Her composition # 1 is equally as beautiful, 
as you can see.

And now it is time for me to fess up.  I was one of the students that didn't complete composition # 2.  In fact, I didn't even get a good start on # 2.  We began by making more striped fabrics following certain criteria.  Thirty fabrics to be precise.  I got a good start with these 3 pieces, since the directions were pretty concise.  

Then, as you can see, I ended up all over the place as far as color.  Totally incoherent, er-ah, non-cohesive.  And if you take the time to count, I didn't even make 30 fabrics.  I was pretty burnt out by fabric # 27 at 1:00 am.  

After staying up way past midnight 3 days in a row, 
fog had set up permanent residence in my brain.  
Commenting to Nancy the next morning, that I didn't yet have all my fabrics completed, she said, "too bad.  We've got to move on."  And that was just fine with me.  What the heck was I going to do with this mess, I wearily asked myself.   
First of all, we cut a strip of varying sizes from each of our made fabrics.  

And from these strips of fabric we had our choices to work with in restructuring a new composition.  
Again, Ms. Cannot Make a Decision, was all over the place.  

I have 3 compositions in one.

Ok, let's divide these into separate compositions.

It was a start.  I won't be boring by showing all the configurations I tried.  Let's just say, that they were really bad.  The harder I tried the worse they got.
And to be honest, I think I must have deleted the pictures of my wall as it appeared on Friday afternoon.  Or maybe I just didn't even take any pictures by then.  I truly do not remember.  I packed everything up, loaded my car.  Had a delicious last meal at Shakerag and headed home.  After recuperating physically and mentally for, oh let's say 25 days, I began again.  

compo B, yet to be decided

I decided to begin anew with some of these parts.
compo A
I will spare you scrolling through the multiple arrangement pictures.

 Here is where I am today.  
approximately 50 inches x 70 inches at this point and growing

I wanted to work with less colors for a change of pace and try something totally unlike anything I had ever done.  I don't want to make a clone of the many, many
Gee's Bend-ish, Nancy Crow-ish pieces that I constantly see all over the www.  Still looking for something different.  As my blog descriptions states in the
About Me box

still searching, diligently.

I feel that each person learns at his or her own pace.  I can sew very fast, but I do not work fast.  I am methodical and plotting.  What I see in my mind doesn't always look good on the design wall and I constantly change my designs as I go.  Whether it be an improvisational piece or something taken from a photo to a sketch to a pattern.
In my mind, when I am sketching or drawing with pencil and paper, I will begin with an idea or a focal point.  From there, I expand and do lots of erasing.  The same with "drawing" with fabric.  I am still more comfortable beginning with a focal point and then  "sketching" or sewing more fabrics to add until I am happy with what I am seeing.
From there I can work on that vague vision until it becomes reality.
Constantly erasing and redrawing.

As much as I respect Nancy's methods, I cannot say that it is my preferred method.  Plus the fact that abstract composition still escapes me.  However, I am now even more determined to learn. I do plan to try and do more smaller pieces in the future using her methods. Granted, I am not likely to make a 5 foot by 6 foot quilt a week by my methods.
For now, I will incorporate things that Nancy taught and try and be more open minded.  
I learned so much in this 5 day workshop, not only about art, but so much about myself.  Even though I did not come home with a completed piece, those days and nights will stay with me forever, as a great learning experience.  Nancy boosted my ego tremendously. I got my money's worth and then some.    
Thank you Nancy Crow.                           


Nifty Quilts said...

WOW!!! Your piece is incredible! You can really see that your workshop experience has settled in you and melded with your own style. This piece is really fantastic!!!!!

Lisa said...

Tremendous! I love your piece it has such movement. So glad you took away so much from the class, can't wait to see how it surfaces in your future work!

MariQuilts said...

I love hearing your thoughts on this Mary. It's such a process finding our own way. Love the piece!!!

Angela said...

Good for you! Keep searching diligently for your self. Technique is one thing and expression is a totally different concept. You cannot express your world through somebody else eyes. You are a marathon runner, not a sprinter (I believe.)
I admire your honesty.

Pinkadot Quilts said...

Mary I love "where you are today". That's where you are supposed to be.
The simplicity of the the red, black and white is stunning, keep going I think you are right on track!!
While I think NC is amazing, I think she is very intense. Be who you are and let your light shine on your work.

Sujata Shah said...

This quilt is stunning!
Constantly sketching, erasing and re-drawing is the right thing and you do it so well.
Keep searching my friend, I love what you are discovering.

Linda said...

I have taken several classes from Nancy Crow and I just love her. It IS very exhausting, though. Looks like you did just fine in the class and the latest composition if fabulous. (Nancy would say "Its a knockout!) Don't be too hard on yourself. Your quilts are great.

Sharon said...

I came over via Nifty's blog. I think your piece is magnificent. We all have our own ideas and a way that we work, I think you nailed it with this piece....and so what if you didn't get 30 pieces in the top.

Sue said...

I would be very proud if I were "where you are today". I love the red and black. Good job looking for your own voice.

Colleen Kole said... have gotten it!

This is a lovely piece. I am not sure many people all the pieces and parts of her assignments done. I took a class last year I felt I "flunked". But now, finally, I am beginning to synthesize it. I think she just wants us to work hard and quickly to understand design and composition.

I always learn so much...glad you enjoyed making it your own.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl here, I took a class with nancy Crow some years ago and identify very much with what you are saying. I think she is a fantastic artist and teacher but it can be hard going if its not coming together for you at the time. I remember ending up feeling so stupid and worthless because others seemed to be 'getting it' and I wasn't. I love the [piece you are now working on and think you are absolutely right to take what you have learnt and incorporate it into your own styke and way of working.

Margaret said...

Mary, I took so much away from this inspirational post ... thank you! And your composition is fabulous!

Miki Willa said...

Thank you so much for this post. I believe that the goal of a workshop is to learn as much as you can. It appears you learned a great deal. After all, it is all about the process, isn't it? Finished projects are very nice, but only if we feel good about them in the end. I really like what you showed us. It will be a stunning quilt.

Buffy said...

Dynamite!! Really drawn to the irregular borders, and even the design wall peaking thru the strips.

Leanne said...

It sounds like your learned and grew which is a success to me. I like what you are working on now.

Sharon Robinson said...

I really like "where you are now! The limited color palette is very elegant. Speaking as one who took more than five months to synthesize what I'd learned into a composition, I'd say you are positively racing forward! ;)

PatSloan said...

Stunning!! My workshop with Nancy many years ago changed my quilt life forever... I think she really pushes us to go the extra step out and up

Rachaeldaisy said...

Wow!! I've just loved this post!! Your thoughts on working through design and composition. Those moments of wondering where you're going to go.. I loved all your configurations but when you showed the final one it was just Wham- So right!! It sounds like an amazing workshop.

Tonya Ricucci said...

holy cow. as far as I'm concerned you got a heck of a lot done! my brain would have melted and I'd only have done about half this amount. It's good you know what your best working method is. Yours is different, not worse. That class just wasn't your style.

I really love a lot of things about Compo B. the only thing that is really throwing me off is the two wide turquoise strips. have you already sewn the whole thing together, or is it still in chunks?

I'm finding compo A to be really overwhelming in it's current state. So much to look at. The photo above it has more calming areas, which I appreciate. And the scale. Really busy and super busy. again, that's just me. how happy are you with it?

meli B said...

I really enjoyed seeing how your quilt has evolved. I think you are headed in the right direction. It's looking really strong and vibrant.

cinzia said...

just read thru all your 'Nancy Crow' posts. I'm exhausted! sounds like she took you all on an incredible journey!
I absolutely love your quilt! Stunning!looks like you're defining your own style!

Christine Gardner said...

Thanks for your post! I took an class with Nancy Crow a few years ago, and it was a very difficult experience. I learned so much, and gained tremendously. However, by the end of the week, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I could barely bring myself to stay through the ending presentations. I felt inadequate, untalented, and lost. As I have processed the experience, I have searched the internet, looking to see if I was the only one affected this way, but almost all mentions of the Nancy Crow workshops are glowing. As you point out...techniques learned are so useful, and later on, as new skills integrate, I am very glad I took the class.

Camilla said...

i have found the Nancy Crow workshop posts! Yay! (I couldn't find a search bar so I couldn't use your labels)
Fantastic posts! Wrestling with creativity and self doubt, really working at the edges of yourself- such a challenge. I loved reading about your process-both internal and external and I absolutely love the red and black finished piece you're working on. Keep going! I'm trying to do this at the moment and it's so much easier to give up and tell myself I'm a hopeless case!