I had so much fun last night!
It was my first time to get together with an amazing group of women artists that I discovered though Meetup.com, a great online resource for meeting local people with common interests.
Our group was led by Dayna, a sensitive, kind woman who put in a great deal of effort and thought into the meeting and the topics we discussed. She was also very flexible and allowed for the natural flow of the group and the dynamics between its members.
We were an eclectic mix of painters, mixed media artists, a photographer, a singer/musician, and a ceramicist (me). There was a wide range of ages and relationship status, too, including married women, single women, and mothers with children of every age. After introducing ourselves and talking about our chosen medium, we discussed balancing our art with our lives, selling and promoting our art, working through blocks and ways to brainstorm ideas.
One of my favorite activities was an exercise we did at the end of the meeting called “360 Degree Feedback.” Dayna handed out a worksheet on which we wrote our name and a problem with which we wanted help. Then, we passed the paper to our right. When we received the paper from the person next to us, we were to write a suggestion or solution to the described problem with the challenge of proposing something different from any other suggestion.
Here was my question and the 360 Degree Feedback I received.
Ceramics has a huge technical component that often presents a challenge to me. How can I bridge the gap between my inexperience and the technical complexity of the work I want to create?
1. Study and pursue the knowledge of your craft to build skills.
2. Experiment, experiment, and experiment with items you can add to your pieces/sculpture.
3. Let the technical aspect become a side issue. Allow yourself the freedom to fail.
4. Study with someone whose work you like.
5. Let go of thinking and simply be in your body and feel. Take a risk.
6. Trust yourself to find the way.
7. Realize that you already know more than you give yourself credit for–the technical training wheels are all in your head–you will truly know yourself once you take those training wheels off.
8. If you’re trying to let go of the technical, work with your hands with the lights off or with a timer.
As papers flew around the circle, it was wonderful to see all the questions each woman posed and the exceptional solutions offered by members of the group. I learned from everyone there.
And thanks to the great guy behind the counter at Starbucks for the yummy samples of treats he brought over to us!