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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Faces of concentration

My Calgary "Exploring Art and Creativity" workshop was one of the most enjoyable I've ever taught. Right from the start, when each of the 23 students introduced herself and told why she was taking the workshop, they seemed to be of a single mind about their desire to be more creative and their dedication to their art. It felt good to be part of this community of artists.

All of them entered into the spirit of the creativity activities with enthusiasm and appeared to enjoy the fun and the serious parts equally. They embraced collage and monotype wholeheartedly and shared their experiences with new materials--and their materials--freely. The critiques were illuminating; every piece was unique and personal to the artist who made it.

The group included teachers, artists, an engineer, an accountant, stay-at-home moms, a university administrator, a census taker, a couple of bookmakers (read: "makers of handmade books"), an author and photographer, an art materials dealer, just to name a few. At times the room was as still as a library and sometimes laughter and conversation bounced off the walls. I thought one group was goofing off and found they were deep in conversation about setting creative goals.

On Saturday we lunched at a funky restaurant where they prepared a delicious meal in spite of a power outage. We ate by candlelight. Our tables were in a loft decorated with Victorian frippery and art deco objects under an embossed tin ceiling. Lunch began with clinking glasses in a toast. Some got a little giddy over setting their cell phones so they wouldn't ring during class, hence a silly joke circulated about their "vibrators." We returned to class and had a productive afternoon.

I've experienced many memorable workshops over twenty years, and this was one of the best. Kudos to my Canadian friends, eh?


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