Below is a photo of me with my Australian classmates and Nancy.
|Julie, Me (Linda), Nancy Crow and Wendy|
There were 18 students from New Zealand and Australia and we stayed on site at the beautiful Silverstream Retreat. It was a short walk to our classroom and the dining room where we had all our delicious meals. We were certainly well fed.
Classes with Nancy Crow were all that I had heard they would be and more. It is not often that you get a chance to study with such a passionate and dedicated teacher who teaches classical art concepts in quilt design.
The first week the class was called Improvisations- Let's Experiment part 2. Many people in the class had done Nancy's classes before but for us new students it was a huge learning curve.
The class was supposed to start at 9am but Nancy was always there at 8.30 putting notes up for us to copy into our books. Pages and pages of notes about what our focus should be and definitions of colour and design and assorted exercises we had to do. We had to write quickly as well because those notes would only stay up for a half an hour.
After writing down the notes we had to start designing and only had one day to design and sew our first composition.
We all had our own work station of two tables and a large cutting mat and iron and ironing board and two large design boards. Here is a photo of me at my design board on the second week.
|Me at my design board|
|My work station|
We had to cut out various size strips and shapes out of black fabric and then start pinning them up to make a composition of about 20" x 20". We had to freehand cut with no rulers and no sketches on paper either.
|My first composition|
What a way to start the two weeks, it was such a daunting way to design and sew. I somehow got it done. This first design was supposed to be the basis of our work for the rest of the week.
The next day after writing up more notes, we had to do a design at least 4 times the size but in black and white. We had to make a pattern in black fabric first and then sew it together using black, white and grey and we had a day and a half to make it.
|My design pinned to the design board.|
Here is my grey-scale composition sewn together, I don't particularly like it but the idea was that you didn't have time to think much, you had to work quickly so the design started coming from inside of you. Nancy says that you have to make a lot of duds before the good stuff starts coming out. Even so she thought my composition was strong.
|Week 1 grey-scale|
Even Nancy agreed that I didn't have much left to work with. I didn't have any colours that were in each value group. So I might have had only a medium and light green and no other values etc. It made it very difficult and I had to really work hard to make it work! It was so hard but I learnt so much about colour and value.
|Colour study pinned to design wall.|
After not much sleep I got up the next morning and sewed it together and managed to have it done in time for the critique session on Friday afternoon.
|Me with final colour study week 1|
Week 2 was called Lines, Shapes and Figure Ground Composition part 2. We thought week one was hard but week 2 was even harder. In this class we really concentrated on value and colour.
We were given design exercises with the idea of getting ideas and finding your voice. We were supposed to complete 9 configurations with various criteria. The first one was to make a design that had a linear curve and two lines but no figures could touch each other and one figure must touch the edge.
That was the easy one; number 7 was to make a composition that had 6 lines, 3 narrow curves, 4 shapes and 3 curvilinear lines. I am not sure now if it was this design below or if this was another one. Anyway, they got really complicated and we only had a day and a half to complete them. I think I got six done before she made us go onto the next thing.
For the last exercise we had to make a composition in black and white and make it again in white and black and use flat blacks and white and glowing black and whites and then start with colour.
We made it once and then had to repeat it in the opposite values. That means if it was a dark in the first composition it had to be a light value in the next one. We had to make 6 in all and it was exhausting work but once again we learnt so much about colour.
Finally on the last Friday we had to take it in turns to set up our work for the two weeks and be critiqued. I was so tired I could hardly stand but I was still sad that it was over.
When Nancy was not advising or answering questions she was watching and analysing us as well. I actually like a person to tell you straight out what she thinks. Too many people say that things are good or OK when they really think the opposite. Nancy has strong opinions but she can back them up with years of training, teaching and experience.
|Me with my two weeks work|
So what did Nancy think of me? She said that I didn't complain and had a strong work ethic. She thought my compositions were strong but the widths of my lines were too similar and I have to work hard at making them different widths. She also said that my colours were too greyed and depressing and she wants me to work with clear colours. She wants me to stop doing all the work that I have done in the past and spend a year working on abstract, contemporary design to find my voice.
So that is what I am going to do, it's only a year out of my life and I was wanting a change anyway. I wonder how many duds I will make before a good one comes out?
Nancy Crow is thinking about coming back to teach in two years time and if she does I will book in again for sure. Next time I will be more prepared and hopefully will have better choice of fabric to work with.
Bye for now,