Wow, I just spent a week teaching “Pysanky for All” at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, and I declare to one and all…this is my happy place.
For those who are not familiar with the Folk School, think of summer camp…only year around…for adults…filled with folk art classes…on 300 beautiful acres of gently rolling hills and woodlands…with other like-minded life-long learners. That should give you the beginnings of an idea of this place.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there. In spite of the misty cold January weather, we had a blast baking all week long. With our fellow students we started with basic breads and then experimented with sourdoughs, crusty ciabattas and even got to bake in the wood-fired hearth oven right there in the kitchen. The communal meal-times offered lots of opportunity to meet fellow students and instructors from around the country. I fell in love with this whole concept of non-competitive, cooperative learning based on the Danish “folkhojskole” or folk high school and I knew I wanted to come back someday and teach.
It took me a few years to gain enough experience teaching and then a few more years to work up the courage to apply, but I was delighted to teach for the first time in June 2016. And even more delighted when they asked me back for this year’s class and scheduled me for October 7-13, 2018.
This year’s class of eight students exceeded my expectations greatly. On Monday morning we worked our way through an introductory egg to learn the basics. Step-by-step through the next few days they gained skills and confidence so that by the end of the week they were designing and completing their own masterpieces. We bonded as a group quickly and constantly helped each other by calling out, “Did you plug your egg?” as one or more students headed for the dye table. “Show and tell,” was followed by oohs and aahs as the finished eggs made their way around the class.
Saturday and the end of our stay came too quickly, but with the hope of a return trip next year, we parted as long-time friends instead of students and teacher. That’s a really good feeling in my book.
And go wild we did. A fast-paced week filled with all kinds of art. My class was the BEST, of course.
Wow! The new catalog of classes for the John C. Campbell Folk School just came out a couple of weeks ago and my “Pysanky For All” class August 20-26, 2017, is nearly full. This is such thrilling news for me because it means I get to go back to that lovely spot in North Carolina and “play eggs” for a whole week with students of all skill levels.
I love teaching beginners. My favorite part is watching their faces as they remove the wax from their very first egg and see the colorful results. And I love seeing their excitement as they progress through the week, improving in skill and beginning to come up with design ideas on their own.
I also love teaching those already experienced with this wax and dye process. Helping them stretch their artistic muscles as they work with new colors, or techniques, or styles is great fun for me. I learn almost as much as they do as we work through the week together.
Here is a photo of the work my class did for the big “Show and Tell” celebration at the end of the week. Didn’t they do a great job? I feel like a proud parent!
Secrets of the Enchanted Forest
Show and Sale February 25-26, 2017
Seminars February 23-26. 2017
Crowne Plaza Northeast
5321 Date Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95841
The 2017 Show is fast approaching. I’ll be teaching two classes and selling eggs and egg jewelry in the showroom. Take a look at the show website here.
And see here for more information on the beginning and Trypillian classes I’ll be teaching.
I love getting fun mail! Today’s was especially fun because I received my 2017 Incredible Eggs calendar and I’m proud to report that a collection of my Trypillian style eggs appears on the November page. This entire calendar is filled with an amazing display of colors and styles by lots of different egg artists from around the world. Click here to get the purchasing details and to preview each page. There is even a Canadian version for those of you north of our border.
Sometimes design ideas just pour out of my head and onto the eggs and I can’t find enough studio time to complete them all.
Then there are other times when I sit staring at a clean white egg and experience what I call “Blank-egg-o-phobia.”
You know the feeling. You want to create and yet you sit and stare at that unstarted project and the longer you sit and stare, the harder it is to get started and pretty soon you realize that your studio is a mess and you should really organize it better but first you need to move everything off your table and you discover it is incredibly dusty which requires a trip to the kitchen to get the cleaning supplies where you remember that you forgot to unload the dishwasher and two hours later you finally come back to your studio and decide you’ll try again tomorrow.
Please tell me I’m not alone here.
So how do I get past this? Artists everywhere have discovered that working “in a series” can help unleash creativity again. A “series” just means creating a body of work with a common theme. It doesn’t even matter whether you decide to link all your work by color, texture, subject, or style, a series will provide definition and boundaries.
It’s very counterintuitive, but limiting my choices requires me to think more deeply about the subject. It’s an opportunity to explore those ideas fully and to learn from each step. The same rules that limit me will keep me on track but free me to get creative in discovering new solutions to design problems. Fear of ruining a piece can keep me stuck but working in multiples can get me unstuck.
As I started thinking about this topic, I noticed that God also works in series. Think about trees, for instance. God designed all trees with the same basic parts… roots, trunks, branches, leaves. That could get boring pretty quickly but God, the infinitely creative artist, started playing with all those parts using color and shape and size. I’d venture to say there is an infinite variation in the tree world but all within the boundaries of those same boring parts…roots, trunks, branches, leaves. Take a look around you. It’s not just in trees, it’s in everything…clouds, rivers, rocks, and people too. Absolutely everything shows God’s creative handiwork within a set of rules.
The lesson here? Rules are your friend both in art and in life.
Returning to my studio here…Let me give you a peek at my latest series. Quite a contrast to my usual multi-colored eggs with lots of fine lines, these Trypillian-style eggs require only three colors…white, brown and black. The designs are very bold, simple and repetitive but as a group I find them fascinating. Hope you enjoy them too.