Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ode to Teachers

I'm almost recovered from the intensive and extensive 5-day workshop, and have some time to breathe. I got several comments on the breakthrough I've made at the end of the workshop. Retrospecting on the experience, I did get a lot from it: using shapes to create interest and introduce abstraction to realistic paintings, applying value bridges to achieve gradation and softness. Also, I am notorious for being the master in knocking back bright colors, and I think this workshop has finally convinced me to spare some of the color and leave it pure, so it can sing among all the neutrals. (and yes, color can sing! All you need to do is listen).

So, a big part of it is thanks to the tedious process of exactly following the rules that John Salminen gave us, and doing his process, step by step, grunting and hair-tearing included.

However - around the second day of the workshop, I realized that if I hadn't taken Mike Bailey's 'Watercolor Beyond The Obvious' class (twice!!), I honestly don't think I would have gotten all the things that John Salminen was teaching. Looking around at the workshop, you could easily tell those of us who went through Mike's class (which also comes with its share of hair tearing and being kicked out of your comfort zone), from those who didn't; the latter looked utterly puzzled and didn't quite know what to do with all that knowledge that was so generously showered upon them.

So Mike - I know I've said it to you many times, but it's never enough:


This class you're teaching is truly, utterly and absolutely invaluable! And the fact it keeps proving itself over and over again, even more than a year after I took it, speaks for itself. OK, now you can go blush at your convenience.

Y'see, sometimes, when the rain is plenty but the soil is too dry, the abundance of water form paddles or flow away rather than penetrate, enrich and bring new growth. It's the same with art (and many other domains). The more you know, the more you can absorb additional knowledge. And once you found a really good teacher - you don't let go. You take the same classes over and over again.

'cause even if the class is the same, you are different. Each time you start from a higher place; things you already know get deeper meanings and connect with other bits of knowledge; things that were Greek to you suddenly click and make sense - and your level of knowledge is spiraling upwards. And this is what growing is all about.

I consider myself very lucky to have found several such teachers (four, so far). Now, if I only had the time to be a frequent taker of their classes...

And, to two of these teachers (who are actually closer to being mentors!) who read my blog, Mike and WackieM: I often wonder if you are aware of the impact you have, and I think it would be so cool if one day I could be the same to some artist who's doing his or her first steps in the ocean of creating.

A friend from my hi-tech past once asked me, "you are taking this class again??? Why? did you fail it last time?".

Quite scary to think that I also used to think like this only 5 years ago...

1 comment:

Mike said...

Nava, you (and others) are the reason I do this . . .on the first morning of class, having read this, I have a lump in my throat.

Thanks for saying this. On the other side of the coin, watching you grow and digest this stuff is why I do this. Hugs!