06 July 2018

Supply lists

In the next few weeks I'll be attending various summer courses, ranging from two evenings to a full day to two full days to - the scary one - a residential course for a week. (The previous courses are a warm-up for that week-long course.) 

Some provide all materials, and some have a list of things to bring.

The risk is that the materials provided will be basic and, frankly, poor quality. With a supply list, the risks are either that it's too prescriptive and involves unnecessary purchases, or too comprehensive and you don't use many of the items. The latter is particularly onerous if you use public transport - it would be no fun to hoist a sewing machine into the overhead rack on the train.

Considering these matters, my Inner Rebel pipes up: "Use what you find there at the time - it'll be a challenge!" and Miss Sensible ripostes: "You won't get the most out of the course if you constantly have to Make Do or use manky paintbrushes - be prepared!"

Possibly they're both right. One of the courses, two days of image making with textile media, asks us to bring
"A short piece of text (newspaper/magazine article, story, poem or favourite song), fabric or trimmings that you feel could be visually relevant (colour or texture)."
The Inner Rebel is hopping up and down like Rumpelstiltzken -
(via; by Walter Crane)
.......but watch out, Inner Rebel, remember what happened to Mr R -
with anger he stomped his right foot so hard into the ground that he fell in up to his waist. Then with both hands he took hold of his left foot and ripped himself up the middle in two.
The Inner Rebel doesn't want to be prepared, doesn't want to brood ahead of time on what . The Inner Rebel - aka the Artist - wants to respond to what might happen, what's happening on the page, what might be done next ... she wants possibilities  and surprises and new directions. She does not want to go down the straight track of "what's supposed to be", to be herded with the other mice through the only exit. NonononoNO! She is willing to be ripped up the middle and is starting to think this would be appropriate for much of the laborious (but instructive) work she has made over the years.

The Inner Rebel is aware of time's wing-ed chariot drawing near - she is rebelling also at how, suddenly, everything takes so  l o n g   and how she can no longer do three things at once with equal attention. (Miss Sensible, too, is nostalgic for those days, but has taken on board that multi-tasking is counterproductive.)

But this isn't a good cop - bad cop  situation. There's another player here - Action Woman, aka She Who Does The Work.

Left to Miss Sensible, everything would be over-considered, honed to perfection. "Everything" would not come to much, it would hardly be anything.

Left to the Inner Rebel, a lot of fun would be had but unacceptable messes would be made.

It's up to Action Woman to set a considered pace, to clean up those messes, to set the level of competence or interestingness or bravado or newness that separates the immediate rejects (torn up the middle) from the save-for-now work (reconsider in three months or three years).

She also has to rein in Miss Sensible, to over-ride the fussiness and hold on to real sense, and get something happening in the Real World rather than just as ideas in the Ideal World.

It's up to Action Woman to decide on how to handle the supply lists. In the example above, to have decided on the text and chosen the fabric seems to be a prescription for the finished work - what can the course add, apart from technical suggestions?

It's serendipity and spontaneity that make Action Woman leap into action - for example, in a 2010 painting course for which I had an idee fixe at the outset, finding this photo in a discarded magazine
completely changed the painting, from beginning to outcome.

Action Woman also likes the challenge of found materials, for example using scraps, as in this - and many other - small quilts -

For the course in question, I shall bring several "sources" and scoop some scraps and textural trimmings into a bag, as well as some bigger pieces of plain fabric. My aim is to use lumps and bumps and slashes and other textural marks so that the "illustration" can become a fabric/dipped pot - this is an intention, not a prescription. 

And to please Miss Sensible I'll bring my own tools - not just needles and threads, but fabric pens and paintbrushes (and maybe even some nice paint) "just in case". 

Who knows, maybe a "short piece of text" will be discovered by the Inner Rebel on the day, and maybe there'll be a big bag of fabric and trimmings already in the classroom.

The dilemma about supply lists, though, continues....


Olga Norris said...

Wow! I thought that I was conflicted in preparation for a workshop! I know exactly what you mean about supply lists etc. I have generally found that although over the years I have taken fewer and fewer items, still there has been too much stuff. Any extras which I used have come from the teacher's supplies.

The last workshop I attended said that a sewing machine was essential, but I cannot physically carry my machine more than a couple of steps, so did not take mine. The venue/organisers offered me the use of a machine, but I am comfortable with hand stitching. So rather than learning the peculiarities of an unknown machine I made a much smaller piece than everyone else, used hand stitching, and enjoyed myself comfortably.

So, I guess the main requirement for a workshop is an open and flexible creative attitude. I hope that you have lots of fun and inspiration from your Summer of courses and workshops.

Margaret Cooter said...

"Open and flexible creative attitude" - yes, that should be on the supply list too!

magsramsay said...

The trouble with supply lists is when you don't know what they're going to be used for. For Dorothy Caldwell course in Puglia we had very specific instructions about sizes of fabrics - I spent ages agonising over the colour of 1 piece only to find it was to be used as a blindfold! ( it did match my shirt however)

I always take too much stuff but am now learning to concentrate on good tools ( brushes, small cutting mat and sharp scalpel,scissors, favourite pens/pencils, decent paper ) Materials can be scavenged - other peoples cast offs are always more interesting than your own.