The Workshop Affair

In late 2016, I was presented a genuine opportunity that would result in that kind of knowledge that makes you wonder how you were ever able to create without it. I registered for the inaugural Stencil Girl and Friends: An Art Journal Affair to be held at Ephemera Paducah. Mary Beth Shawthe Stencil Girl—invited three friends—Seth Apter, Pam Carriker, and Traci Bautista to lead a two-day art journaling workshop. It wasn’t long after registration opened that it had to be closed and a waitlist begun. Yes, the workshop was THAT GOOD. Even though we couldn’t truly know it on the day that we all registered, we instinctually knew that it would phenomenal because of the quality of the artists who were leading the workshops. We weren’t disappointed. I heard nary a mean word about any of the instructors during the September 2017 weekend. These were real and genuine instructors. Sure, they were there to earn a living, of course, but not to the extent that it meant more than sharing their love of art and creativity. Mary Beth, Seth, Pam, and Traci were more like “Check this out. Isn’t it mind-blowing? And look how easy it is.”

Over the two-day workshop period, I had my eyes opened in so many ways. Traci taught us how to let loose by simply making marks. Seth showed us how to make rust—on paper. Yes, on paper. And it looked like rust. For real. Pam helped us take a stencil and create a journal page that was simply art. . .but not her art. Instead, it was her stencil used and enhanced in our personal style. And Mary Beth, well, she has her own little-bit-o-magic, right? I mean, the Stencil Girl knows how to whip those stencils into such imaginative pieces. If you ever want to move beyond yourself, these artist-instructors really know how to help you get there.

The weekend wasn’t just joyful because of its artist-instructors. There were other people to meet and greet. There was Carol Baxter, Stencil Girl extraordinaire, woman of all things mastered. Ask her. She has your answer. Karyl Howard was there with her wonderful smile and gift of generous gab for fun. Elaine Williams Larkin carted a boatload of ephemera, some quite interesting pieces. Sherry Canino brought with her an enviable laugh and some wonderful tips for creating tags. Glenda Miles shared with the group one of my favorite forms of creating—the ancestor! Trena Lynn shared some ideas about creativity and academia with me. Lisa Dobry and I built a new friendship over breakfast and ATC swaps. And, of course, my traveler in kind, Debi Adams, shared her ideas in using stencils and Spellbinders dies. There were others, of course, but to list them all would make this blog entry quite lengthy.

The key points for me during this weekend were that I was learning a new set of techniques, that I most likely wouldn’t finish each project, and that what I learned would enhance my creativity in many ways. While the photos below are fairly finished, the fact is that they are not. And I am proud of that. The process, for me, was designed to gain guidance and to take that guidance and make the techniques work for me. In the first photo, you’ll see my restraint in making marks. This was a challenge for me and also a call to loosen up even more. In the second photo, you’ll notice that I had more fun as this was more finished. In the third photo, I am still pondering what to do with the face. I like it as it is but I also think it could benefit from. . .more. The final photo contains a finished piece. I admit, however, that I didn’t like it at first. Mary Beth advised to step away from it. I did and, after some pondering, I realized that I didn’t like it because it didn’t look like hers. Then I really liked it because it meant that I took what Mary Beth taught and made it my own.

What should you get from this blog entry? First, know that any creative practice is an evolving one. Although I might know how to navigate the art world, there is still so much to learn. Second, the best instructors are those who are also students. Third, communing with other artists upped the ante for me to personally challenge myself to further create my own style. To see how I took what I learned and used it in my own creations, check out the Journal Gallery, specifically the pieces titled Metamorphosis, Gamberger, Mystery, and Equality for All.

As I end this blog entry, I want to ask you: What have you learned recently that challenged you to change your style even further?

Anne Marie

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