Monday, 11 July 2016

Rip, Stitch, Burn Development Course (Day 1 and 2)

After the worst storms for may years consisting of amazing sheet lightening filling the sky, thunder rolling around the house all night, lashing rain, flooding and landslips all around us on Thursday night and Friday morning, it was great to be able to get together with the Kowhai Arts and Crafts Group on Saturday and Sunday. The water had been through the downstairs of their building, leaving a dry residue of mud, but otherwise useable Everyone had personal stories of the storm damage and I was glad that we had not had anything happen to us, simply dealing with one very frightened dog!

So what were we meeting to do? The course is called 'Rip, Stitch and Burn' and is a very achievable and approachable exploration of where can you get to if you abandon the idea of a fixed outcome. This is what the Kowhai Creative Group in Warkworth are on the journey of discovery towards after the first 2 days of our 5 sessions together.
My aim in these extended courses is to take creative people out of their comfort zone and stop the end-gaming mindset which we are all prone to. It is very important when doing these types of exercises to provide a very supportive, positive environment as it can be very hard for us to take ourselves away from the familiar and place ourselves in the hands of a process which is strange, new, without boundaries and probably uncomfortable in the first instance. So well done to the brave souls who were with me this weekend and I would like to celebrate with you their achievement so far.
When you look at the images, remember that this stage is a diverse mix of mark making, developments from this and techniques which are not at this stage related to each other (maybe later -maybe not - depends on where the participants want to go after day 3).

We followed lines in our 'subject', without looking, deliberately not the objects or themes which the participants had in mind when they arrived, but a random selection of materials from my shelves.
I love the overlaps and patterns created here, they reflect in a lively and free way the important shapes in the materials being observed. It helps us to get in touch with the item, without getting into full-on observational drawing.
And just to lighten the atmosphere, we spent a quick five minutes doing the same but looking at each other. many of us find it hard to observe and draw faces, we feel the need to see the face. Here we are looking at lines and shapes, not an attempt to draw each other. Having said that, I get the feeling that one of the final pieces might actually be inspired by this exercise. Watch this space!
Without naming who was who, that wouldn't be the point, here are some of the outcomes:

 These certainly made us all laugh during the doing and when looking at the drawings. And there is nothing wrong with that!

To change the pace, we printed and glazed with bright metallics and inks, at first with pre-made print blocks to have fun, create lots of surfaces, and later we began to use patterns developed from the mark-making above.

Finally for this weekend, we used our painted papers and fabrics to collage, applique and start to see what happens when we add colour and pattern to the shapes developed.
It was also a great opportunity to make sure that everyone was up to speed with free machining - including two ladies who have never done so before. And isn't it a great feeling to achieve something new and to realise the possibilities which can be used in the final piece later.

In our next encounter we will pursue a few more ideas to develop the patterns and marks we formed this weekend, introduce a couple more technique and surface decoration methods, then start to consider the personal projects.

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