I am beginning to feel like I am writing one of those endless Hollywood film series, met with groans from those of us not entranced by the particular brand of violence, horror, or silliness depicted in the previous offerings in the series. I had, however, planned from the beginning to write not just about the details of the class, but the influence Jane's class has had on me because I feel that something changed during the course of that week.
That I was changed should not come as a surprise because, according to a book that is on my to-read list, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Demasio, our brains are changing constantly. As you read this, as a matter of fact, not only are you not getting other things done but changes visible to an MRI are happening in your brain, according to one reviewer. (Remember my brain has not yet been changed by actually reading the book.) So a week away surrounded by focused, creative people should have made a difference--that the change was big enough that I felt it is what I am trying to capture here.
But feeling it and articulating it are two different things. I know it had something to do with the Wednesday afternoon moment of panic. We had all been working hard and were looking forward to a quiet evening--a lecture by another teacher and then perhaps an early bedtime since many of us had been up rinsing fabric the night before. I was feeling as if the week was going well; I was not going to feel overwhelmed or inadequate and was learning some useful techniques. Then Jane said, " Well, I need to give you a little something to do tonight," and proceeded to outline three of the major assignments for the week. I was not alone in letting out a small gasp. "Oh, you don't have to begin tonight," she said, trying to reassure us, "but I know some of you want to move on to the next step." As we returned to our work, you could feel the pace pick up. We all worked until suppertime and many returned after the lecture; some even skipped the lecture.
By the next morning, the creativity in the room was fully displayed by the number of samples up on the design walls, and my inner critic was working overtime. A quick glance around assured me that everyone was being more productive and more creative than me, and, as I stared at the second assignment, I could think of nothing to do for it. Then, without my even putting effort into it, things changed. I looked up at one of my samples and realized that it wasn't bad. I took a sip of my morning cup of tea. I forced myself to look more closely at some of the other working walls and realized the variety of approaches there were. Some were working; some were not working as well. And mine were right in there with everyone else's. It wasn't a matter of whether I was creative or artistic or whatever adjective you want to plug in here; I just needed to keep working. And so I did. Yeah, yeah. I have heard this, even said this before, but this time I felt it. Perhaps it was because of the spirit Jane cultivated in the class or because of the talks I had had with another student I had become friends with or because of comments by other students--or some wonderful savory stew of all of these. By the end of the week I had not produced breathtakingly beautiful pieces and certainly had not finished as many samples as some of the other participants, but I had produced some pieces I was pleased with for a number of reasons. I'm still not sure I have competently captured what happened--sounds rather oversimplified as I read it over, but maybe you have a glimpse.
My work will change because of the techniques I learned from Jane Dunnewold and because of her attitude toward her own work. But my own connection with my work has changed and I feel I have taken yet another step on this quilt making journey.
And here's a picture to fill that mandatory picture slot in a blog post. It's one of those samples I did in class that is now in the quilting phase of things.
Well, I have changed your brains more than enough for one blog post and, if you are still reading, thanks very much for the company--and this is definitely the finale in the Quilting by the Lake saga.