A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
So what exactly did I learn in the Hollis Chatelain class? Quite a bit actually, most of it was not painting related. I was dazzled by all the artist celebrities. I believe everyone except me was actually an artist and a couple of the people were big quilt show winners like Hollis. I really was out of place among them but at the same time I was able to ask questions about their art work. I liked that.
I went mostly because of the quilting part of the class and I did spend a lot of time looking at the quilting done on her quilts. She must have thought I was weird because I kept looking at the front, then the back, then the front, then the back. Hollis even mentioned the difference between a regular person looking at art quilts and a quilter looking at art quilts. A regular person will walk by and say “hmm, that’s interesting”, look at it for a bit, then walk on. A quilter however will say “hmm, that’s interesting”, walk closer to look at the stitching, and then try to see the back before walking on. Yeah, we quilters know there is more to an art quilt than just the overall design. It is made up of many parts and we are interested in them all.
I should have checked further into what the class was really about before being so hasty to sign up. The class was more about the painting than the quilting. DUH! It did say “dye painting” class, not thread painting class or quilting class. We never really started any of the stitching. We spent probably an hour or two on the last day learning about using tracing paper to sketch our quilting idea. I prefer to use wax paper for my stitch design planning. It’s less expensive than tracing paper. I’ve used it for many years and it works for me.
Here are my observations of what I believe should be changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being critical at all, just observant. She is a very good teacher. She has groups of people signing up for ten years worth of classes. That’s dedication. Or would it be popularity? At least a couple of people came from far away states just to be in her class. One from Michigan and one from, I think she said Oklahoma? I believe another came from Texas? I’m not sure.
I watched Hollis running around trying to set things up for the next step or putting away things from the previous one instead of continuing to teach. That’s where an assistant would have been really handy. If I were Hollis I would ask each group to provide an assistant. Assistants are volunteers. Most of the big shows provide volunteer assistants, called teachers angels, for all their teachers.
Tasks like unpacking supplies, packing stuff away, handouts, measuring, and so forth are done by the volunteer. I would also write up a schedule sheet for my volunteer and ask that person to be a clock watcher for me. It should be written with enough instructions that the assistant could easily follow along to clean up one step then set up the next step while I continued to talk with the students or explain something or make my way around the room.
Another thing I would do is make a large (poster board size) sign with this saying….. “Please hold all questions or comments until after I finish speaking. It’s your money. I can teach or we can all talk. It’s your choice.” and put it in front of the class. That would surely cut down on the student need for interrupting the teacher. Yes, I’m guilty too. I forgot good student behavior and raised my hand a couple of times while she was talking. Ok, maybe a sign is not a good option but making sure that is said and heard by everyone is important.
I really like Hollis’ art because she doesn’t see people in skin tones either. At least we have that much in common. Maybe she has trouble finding the right paint in the same way I have trouble picking the right crayon. Anyway, next time you look at her work notice that she has blue people, and green people, and denim people, and multi-color people. For the class she even made a red orange person. Just look at the shine (light reflection) she painted on the eye.
I think if we had met in different circumstances we might have had a conversation or two about some controversial or political issues. I’ve been an activist for as long as I can remember. She strikes me as an activist type person because that’s what I see in her art.
When I was there I could have sworn Hollis showed us a quilt that was a hand and was quilted with red thread. Another person that was there said the same thing. Hollis told us no she had not shown the class a hand quilt done with red thread. Both of us were puzzled and wondered if we dreamed the whole thing. Two separate people with the same dream? Not likely. I have now figured out where I saw the hand quilted with red thread. It’s on Hollis’ website. It’s called “red quilted hand”. A blue green hand, not a flesh color of some type. It’s quilted with white and red threads.
Now it’s time for me to go visit with my Mother at the nursing home. She had a fall last night so I want to see for myself that she’s not injured. This is the last of the posts about the class.