Session II: Three Mondays August 14 – 28
Focus Q: What can we learn from summer? Looking at makers who use bounty and warmth in their work. We’ll look at Giuseppe Arcimbolo, Sufjan Stevens and Andy Goldsworthy. Critique of new work each week.
8/14: Looking at the musician Sufjan Steven‘s unique, spiritual, story-telling songs. In particular, look at Predatory Wasp of the Palisades, a song set in summer with layers of rich detail and emotion. Listen to the song before hand here. You can also check out this video with the back story. We’ll do some audio recording and reflective writing this day.
8/21: Exploring Andy Goldsworthy, a visual artist who creates installation using natural materials. Check out his background here and here’s a good interview. We’ll roam my neighborhood briefly to create a collaborative installation as our art-making this day.
8/28: Giuseppe Arcimbolo (1526-1593) created fascinating and grotesque portraits of people. Inspired by this work, and writers like Annie Dillard who reference the rather terrifying abundance of nature, we’ll do some collage work and reflective writing.
Previous Session Descriptions:
Session I: Five Mondays June 19 & 26 (NO CLASS ON JULY 3) July 10, 17 & 24
Focus Q: What’s a Creative Practice and how do I get one?
Using Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit to structure and deepen our artistic yearnings. Twyla’s book will help us structure our experiments in discipline and freedom, creating flexible goals and sharing results. Students need to buy the book–just $7 on Amazon.
Week One: Preparing to Create (each week we’ll have three components–discussion of reading, in-class exercises/work, and sharing/critique. For example, Week one will go like this.
- Discuss Tharp Chapters 1-2.(half hour)
- We’ll make mini-books that we’ll use throughout Session I, and do some reflective writing. (45 minutes). All materials provided.
- Sharing of work: Come ready to introduce yourself to the group. (75 minutes).
Week Two: Mapping your Imagination. Read Chapters 3 and 4. We’ll create some mini-stamps and start laying down patterns.
Week Three: Small Moves. Read Chapters 5 & 6. We’ll explore different methods of making notes/early draft. Alice will introduce technique of sketchnoting a form of visual note-taking.
Week Four: Flexing our Muscles. Read Chapters 8 & 9. We’ll use story-telling techniques to unpack our strengths, and create a training plan to weaken key skills.
Week Five: The Future. We’ll bring some closure to our books, and make plans to continue our creative making through the summer!
Anchoring text by Twyla Tharp:
I walk into a large white room………The dancers will be here in a few minutes. What are we going to do?
To some people, this empty room symbolizes something profound, mysterious, and terrifying: the task of starting with nothing and working your way toward creating something whole and beautiful and satisfying. It’s no different for a writer rolling a fresh sheet of paper into his typewriter (or more likely firing up the blank screen on his computer), or a painter confronting a virginal canvas, a sculptor staring at a raw chunk of stone, a composer at the piano with his fingers hovering just above the keys. Some people find this moment — the moment before creativity begins — so painful that they simply cannot deal with it. They get up and walk away from the computer, the canvas, the keyboard; they take a nap or go shopping or fix lunch or do chores around the house. They procrastinate. In its most extreme form, this terror totally paralyzes people.
The blank space can be humbling. But I’ve faced it my whole professional life. It’s my job. It’s also my calling. Bottom line: Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.
After so many years, I’ve learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns…I will keep stressing the point about creativity being augmented by routine and habit. Get used to it. In these pages a philosophical tug of war will periodically rear its head. It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or (b) hard work.
If it isn’t obvious already, I come down on the side of hard work. That’s why this book is called The Creative Habit. Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell. …..
More than anything, this book is about preparation: In order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative. No one can give you your subject matter, your creative content; if they could, it would be their creation and not yours. But there’s a process that generates creativity — and you can learn it. And you can make it habitual. There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.