I had to skip Lesson 6 of my on-line class, as I was traveling at the time. Having been away from my studio for a few weeks, I thought a good strategy for re-entry and Lesson 7 would be to try something Jane Davies calls the "No-Hesitation-30-Minute-Mark-Marking" session. You can read the post on her blog here, where she uses a video to illustrate the idea.
The basic idea is that you set yourself up with, say, three 24 x 18 sheets of paper, and lay out some basic materials (markers, brushes, paint, graphite stick, maybe some pastels and collage papers.) You set a timer for 30 minutes and then you proceed to make a variety of marks on the papers. You do not stand back and contemplate what you have done at any point, you just continue, without hesitation, to add marks to the papers. It's NOT speed painting, but you allow yourself no more than a few seconds of thought before making the next mark.
Other participants in the on-line class had really good results with this, so I was inspired to give it a try. They used words like "joy" to describe how they felt during the experience. My feelings were closer to "pain", "panic" and "angst". I approached each of my five sessions with something akin to dread. It was like a bad dream. Honestly! You know that nightmare where you've entered a swim meet and you're in your lane and you realize all you have in your skill set is the dog paddle?
As I had committed to doing five of these 30-minute sessions, the next day I took a deep breath and went back into the studio to "further develop" the pieces in the same fashion. The results are shown here, labelled Exhibits 1b, 2b and 3b.
For my third session, I found a large piece of paper, about 4' x 5', in a medium grey, and pinned that up on the wall. It's labelled below as Exhibit 4.
I was so displeased with that effort that I didn't return to it, but started fresh the next day. This time, I was a bit calmer. I reminded myself that it was not an exercise in speed, but an effort to eliminate hesitation. I began each of these pieces by making a meandering line, and I felt that having a "spine" as a beginning gave me something to build on. My mood was a bit better, less panicked, my hand more deliberate. See exhibits 5, 6 and 7 below.
It was Session 5 that was the real disaster. I spilled paint and stopped the session after 15 minutes, throwing in the proverbial towel. Photos of this are not available.
Well, I posted about the experience into the class blog and everyone was very positive, especially about the first ones (1 - 4). They noted that I seemed to have developed some new vocabulary in my mark-making.
And it seems that I was overly strict with the parameters of the exercise. The instructor clarified that you are allowed up to six seconds before deciding what comes next. (I allowed myself almost no time at all.) You can look at your work while you're pouring more paint or cutting out a shape of collage paper. (I turned my back to my work so I didn't give myself a chance to assess it.) And you keep the timer running if you have to pause to mix up more paint, etc. (I stopped the timer.)
I was so encouraged by the supportive comments that I have decided to give it at least one more try, using the slightly more relaxed parameters.
The thing is, that I have an in-person workshop scheduled with Jane Davies this summer. It is designed for those of us who want to work
- more regularly
- with more ease and less agony.
Perfect, right? It will either be my salvation or my downfall. Stay tuned.