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The last few weeks have been incredible in so many ways. I can’t think that I have put more hours or heart into anything as much as I have the current E-course and the rewards have been unexpected and soul-enriching. The connection with the students, the discovery that I have something of value to say and to teach, the digging deep in order to put a previously unexplained process (how I create my art) into words and text and images. All entirely unexpected consequences of something that I knew would be life-changing (and I do not use that expression lightly) but I did not quite realise the profound effect it would have. It is shifting my own personal development, thoughts about what I do and why I do it, my artwork and my continuing journey to finding a place in this world where I feel I have something to offer. Profound changes indeed.

Mostly I have felt like I am bumbling along, trying to put into words a process that is fundamentally ‘just what I do’ that it is in effect unexplainable. The challenge has been to dissect and understand and put into words everything that I believe about the creation of art and many, many times I have thought ‘well who am I to try to explain this anyway’? One of my goals was to try to teach the things that I wished I had been taught myself – the fundamentals in a way, the foundations of creating art. How to generate ideas, how to focus and discover what is deep within in order to make art out of it, but also some traditional aspects of art making that we do not necessarily know if we have not sought to discover them.

I have been learning too. I have learned that my drawing and painting needs time, that I need to push it further than I initially want to. That if I dig deeper and go further than the results are more true to what I know I can do if I put my mind to it. Creating tutorials in ‘video time’ has been a real challenge. When I work on a drawing for example it can take two, three or more hours at least. A mixed media piece can take a day or a painting a week! So trying to put that same method of ‘working back and forth’ and reworking an image over and over into a lesson for the class to illustrate that for me that is what the creation of my work takes is difficult to demonstrate in a 20 minute or half an hour demo. The result of that has been a humbling one also – in that more often than not the piece of work that I have at the end of the lesson is not something I am particularly happy with (and that is okay) and that very often the students work (because they have more time to work on particular project) goes further and is more successful that my demo (and that is okay too).

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At the end of last week I really needed some time in the studio just to work away at my leisure and without a forced outcome. Above was a mixed media self-portrait that I had filmed last week for the class and it was a real struggle (as creating art often is). I was unhappy with the progress of it all the way through and was so close to restarting and re-filming the whole tutorial as the end image was so far removed from what I had wanted to create in my mind’s eye. But I decided to keep it in. After all, more often than not this is what creating art is all about – not every drawing or painting works – and nor should it. Perhaps only one in ten pieces will be ‘good’ or successful in my eyes – it is all part of the process and the bad pieces teach just as much (perhaps more) that the good pieces. So all in all it was a good lesson to demonstrate – the struggle and all.

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But after going back to the portrait on Saturday and looking at it with new eyes and scraping back and effectively reworking the whole portrait this is how it was transformed. Last week was a difficult week and by the weekend I was feeling a little raw and I think it shows on this face and in my eyes. Now I love it – it is more in line with what I know I can do – it is more of a reflection of who I am. The textures, the expression, the mood. It is not perfect by any means and there are areas that I would still like to re-work – (the far side of the face for example) but I might just leave it where it is anyway. That gift of time that I gave myself was just what I needed to get working at the easel, losing myself in drawing. This is a lesson that I need to remember for myself – so as much as I am teaching, I am learning and growing even more.

There are only a very few places left on the second Unearth Gather Create course which begins this June 2014. That in itself is unbelievable to me as it is only a little over a week since the course was released. My current students have been writing very generous testimonials about their experiences on the course and there are a few blog posts too here and here.

I am hoping to do a slide show at the end of the course of students work as really, every day I am astounded by the development and work that I am seeing in the classroom.

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