Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Midwest Felting Symposium Part 2: My Classes

It has taken me a bit longer than I expected to get back to writing about the Symposium. It has been a strange week. I was very affected by Robin Williams' suicide and all the discussions about depression, etc. as well as being shocked and saddened at the loss of such a brilliant man. I somehow always felt like I knew him personally, as though he could have been a member of my own crazy family. I also got bad news that one of my sisters was in a horseback riding accident while she was away on vacation. She has a compound fracture to her shoulder which required surgery and then later found out that she broke her sacrum as well. She is still in the hospital and far from her home near here so I can not do anything to help or see her in person. So to keep my mind off these less than pleasant subjects I wound up felting this scene from my trip.

What I was supposed to be doing was cleaning up this mess in my "studio". Everything was in disarray because of having to pack all my colors in spacebags for the trip.

I also had a lot of gardening to do since I had not had much time out there before the trip and there was the added chore of harvesting.

And I won't go into all the other day to day stuff the should have been getting done. I will get right on those things when I finish writing this. (Yeah, right). 

The first class I taught was my landscape class. This time it was a 3 day class and that worked out so much better than doing only 2 days. It was much more relaxed and I was able to add more information and take more time with demonstrating and giving individual attention. To me that is key with this class. It was a joy to teach this fun and talented group of women and I think their pieces came out great.
Here are photos of each student's piece after the layout, wet felting, and then one as they left the class. Many students plan to do a bit more embellishing. First here are photos of the inspiration photos they used.

Here is Sheryl's piece.

And at the end of class

Here is Hedy's piece.

And at the end of class.

Here is Suzanne's piece.

And at the end of class. Suzanne plans on adding beads and shells, etc.. I hope she sends me a photo!

Here is Bonnie's piece.

And at the end of class.

Here is Trine's piece.

At the end of class.

Here is Diane's piece.

At the end of class.

And here is Kathleen's piece. Kathleen liked her piece so much after wet felting that she did not want to do any needle felting on it. Many students have photos they really want to use as a reference but that might not  the best to practice all the things I want to teach them. In those cases I encourage them to work with another photo as a practice piece. I then give them advice on how to approach the next piece. This was the case with Kathleen's first photo choice so since she finished early I suggested that she do a sample of color combinations for her next piece.
Here is her first piece.

One of the nice things about having the extra time was that the students got to talk about their pieces, and what they learned, with each other more than usual. 

After that I got to take a break for a day...and now I will take a beak from this blog writing for the day. Stay tuned for the third installment.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Midwest Felting Symposium...I did it!! PART ONE: Susan's farm in Columbus Wisconsin.

Now that that long anticipated/dreaded week is over I can be truly proud and glad that I did not let any of my fears stop me from going to teach at the Midwest Felting Symposium. One of the difficult things about being bipolar is that the person I am when I am up can be so different from the person I am when I am depressed. In this case I agreed to, and wanted to, teach at the symposium because I was on a high. I was in that phase where I feel confident and have the energy to tackle new things. Since my moods are so closely tied to the weather and seasons once winter hit I fell back into the person who has zero energy and loses the ability to see much worth in anything. The last 5 years or so have been much better in this regard but this year was worse than anything I had suffered for many many years. I had several times where I had to just go back to bed to survive the day and was even having a bit of delusional thinking. This winter was extreme where the weather was concerned but I know that the fear and stress of the up coming Symposium was a major factor in my depression. Stress is the biggest factor in triggering mental health issues and a spiral up or down can get out of control. I have learned much about what I can do to keep this from happening and getting rid of the stressors is one of the tricks and tools in my mental health toolbox. I almost called Susan McFarland who is the creator, director, heart, and big bundle of energy behind this event to tell her that I had to bow out. I didn't want to quit and was banking on the change in me that comes during the spring and summer. I am so glad I was right and did not give up. It was wonderful and such a big growing experience for me. I am thankful to Susan for asking me to be part of this event.
After Susan and her incredibly helpful sidekick Holly Tang picked me up at the airport I was lucky enough to meet up with my friend Pamela MacGregor who drove in from Ohio. We all drove out to see Susan's Fiber Shop and her beautiful Teeswater sheep. It was such a beautiful drive and it gave me a taste of what that area of Wisconsin is like.

 The skies were incredible that day and I am not used to seeing quite so much sky all around.

And I can not tell you how wonderful it was to drive along with someone who sees the same beautiful scene that you do and have her turn around and go back so you can get a photo. The light was already fading by the time we turned around but I still got the essence of that moment.

And here are photos of Susan's sheep with those incredible skies in the background. I want to use these as reference for a painting.

 And here is Stacy, the girl I wandered out into the pasture to see up close.

It was really funny to see all the sheep come running when Susan came to the fence. They were all 'talking' to her and each was making different sounds....very loudly!

I really was having a great time taking photos. Here are a few more. My next post will be about the actual Symposium...stay tuned.