The Lisa Call online workshop "Working in a Series" is doing its work on me. Deadlines work for me. Here's the first assignment completed. I won't give a lot of details as to the assignments, as that is proprietory information that is part of the course, but I will say that this one pushed me to a piece of work that I really like and that combines the kind of graphic clarity with my patterned texture work that is hard for me to find.
Keeping at it, this will be the first of a new Sirena series, with five or six new large pieces to result (this [pieceis about 4' by 5'). I feel like I am breaking out of a long, slow slump into some new energy in my work. I find that the right teacher and the right learning experience for me can really help me in my studio practice. As artists, we spend a lot of time in our own little heads, solo. Having to interact in a creative setting, being the follower instead of always being the leader offers a certain kind of vacation, a kind of social interaction that is very valuble for my creative process.
I was once asked by a teacher/artist whom I really respect why I continue to take workshops. She doesn't, feeling that her focus is set and self directed, and that taking classes is a waste of energy and direction, can take her off her track. I don't feel that way -- first, I teach a lot of intro technique classes and some workshops are fodder for that mill -- I need to keep up on the latest and greatest. But others, like this one that I am taking now, are real soul food. Something I need to feed my artist self and to keep me honest, to keep me on task, to remind me of what is important in my work.
Yes, choose carefully. Avoid being a workshop junkie, using courses and workshops to avoid forging ahead on a personal path. But a well-chosen workshop, retreat or class can be just what the spirit ordered. A time to give over the reins for a time, a time to refresh the creative flow, to have deadlines outside of one's own choosing (and divorced from "entry" deadlines that have their own baggage of procrastination) and even a time to make mistakes, to do "not-so-perfect" work and to have a failure or two!