I spent last week at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. It was a great experience on many levels. First, I must say that I am an introvert and my biggest concern prior to making the trip was that I would be "trapped" in an environment with multiple strangers and I would be required to "make nice" with these people 24/7. I know that sounds awful, but, like I said, I am an introvert and it takes a lot for me to be comfortable in groups, especially for extended periods of time.
I had arranged for a single room with a private bathroom, so I would have some place to hibernate. That was a good idea, as I was able to return to my room (no tv, no radio, sketchy cell phone service) after the evening program and be totally quiet and alone. I had the option of returning to the classroom in the evening, but I decided I needed time to decompress after a full day. I wrote a 2 page letter to my husband each evening. I haven't written an actual letter in years and it was special for both of us.
Everyone was extremely nice and friendly and I met many interesting people. Dining was family style, which meant you had to interact with your table-mates and that led to conversations beyond "pass the potatoes, please". There were people there from all over the country and from such diverse backgrounds, I found myself enjoying the meals as much for the conversation as for the food--and the food was awesome.
I took a beginning drawing class with 8 other students. It was kind of like closing your eyes and jumping off the high dive when you're not sure there's any water in the pool, and you can't swim anyway. (Remember the scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", when they have to jump off a cliff into a river below and one of the guys hesitates and says he can't swim and the other one says, "hell, the fall will kill you"?)
I do not remember ever drawing anything that wasn't traced. I make the patterns for my art quilts by enlarging a photo and tracing the main elements. That way, I know that things are the correct size in relation to each other. So, on the first day, when the instructor, Annie Cicale, told us to pick some leaves or a plant and draw them, I swallowed hard and dove right in. My thought process was that nobody in this class knew me, nor was I ever likely to meet any of them again, so what did I have to lose? Besides, the folk school is not a cheap vacation, so I was determined to get my money's worth.
I survived Monday morning--I even showed my work to the other people in the class and Annie. Believe me, that was not easy, but everyone was extremely supportive and positive--nobody laughed out loud, so I decided it was okay to come back after lunch.
I think I may have been the only true beginner in the class, as there were some pretty awesome drawings being done. On Monday afternoon, we chose 4-5 small objects and composed a still life. We got some instruction, which I'm not sure I fully grasped, and began to draw. I was doing okay until I got to the last object and realized that it didn't fit where it was supposed to go and I only had 3 erasers, so I knew I was in trouble. By that time, it was the end of the day and I went back to my room after dinner with a headache and a lot of doubt about my future as an artist.
Tuesday morning, I came back to the class, having determined that I would start over, so I selected another group of objects and began again. This time, things went a lot better and everything fit pretty much where it was supposed to go. Then we began to work on shading, which was easier for me since I discovered that concept when I made my second art quilt.
I won't bore you with lots more details--heck, you probably haven't gotten this far anyway. Suffice it to say, things got easier as the week progressed, and I have no doubt that given enough time with Annie (who is a great instructor and artist), I could eventually be one of those people you see in public places with a sketchbook and a beautifully peaceful look on their faces, lost in their own world. I have always envied those people and wanted to be one of them.
My favorite part of the week was the day we went out and found a spot by ourselves and drew what was in front of us. That was totally serene and made my little introverted self very happy. I want to do that again.
The bottom line here is, the folk school is an awesome place, where you can learn a lot, produce something you're proud to take home, and meet an incredibly diverse and interesting group of people. And, the setting is spectacular--quiet and serene, surrounded by mountains. They offer such a variety of classes, the biggest problem you have is deciding which one you want to take. So, if you're looking for a different kind of vacation, check it out. www.folkschool.org
This week is the GA Quilt Show at the Galleria on the north side of Atlanta. I have one piece in the competition and another piece in a SAQA exhibit, which includes art quilts from members in the GA/SC region of SAQA. I'm looking forward to seeing that and attending a regional SAQA meeting Friday night.
The GA National Fair is Oct 3rd - 13th and I have 3 pieces entered in the Fine Arts Show. I didn't have anything to enter in the quilt competition this year. I plan to make a full/queen size quilt for my youngest grandson, Mitch, very soon. His 16th birthday is coming up in November and I'd like to have something ready, if not by then, perhaps for Christmas. He's picked out colors, but we haven't settled on a design yet. I need to get busy.