I decided I needed some help with a two-hour workshop that I was leading this past weekend. I looked towards two artists, Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch painter 1606- 1669, and Jose Gaytan, Brooklyn photographer, 1949-2011, for support.
Here’s one of Rembrandt’s drawings:
and here’s a landscape photographed by Jose ;
What these two gentlemen have in common, besides having both died in their early sixties, is the way that their works betray the fact that their eyes were wide open to the world in front of them. This openness, this posture of yes , is where I wanted to begin. Rather than actually teach I wanted these talented, interesting, smart workshop participants to spend their time working from a place in themselves that reenforced exploration and moving forward.
After showing a 6 minute and 40 second movie of insightful clips that I snipped from TED talks – from talks by Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, and Mina Bissell – I laid out a pile of intentionally low quality black and white copies of works by Rembrandt, by Jose, and also by Elizabeth Murray, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Georgia O’Keefe. Again, I chose these artists’ works based on the way that I sense that their interface with the world was remarkably open.
After I laid out prismacolor pencils, black markers, glue, colored paper and scissors, we reworked the images of the masters. My hope is that by responding to masters’ work we give ourselves the gift of integrating great influences. After people got to work I just hung out a tried not to interupt.
This workshop was the quietest workshop that I’ve ever led. After awhile I finally had to interupt the work so that we could actually do some bookmaking. We hinged together two of the 8 1/2″ x 11″ papers that we had worked on, so that each person had a single 11″ x 17″ paper. We used this to make a V-Pockets Book Cover.
Last step was to make pages by cutting other papers in half, then fold them in half.
Pages were sewn in using a simple pamphlet stitch, embellished with beads.
I have to mention that I was very happy with the way that people seemed to be involved with their work, and I was delighted by their results, too.
The last ten minutes of workshop was spent looking at each others books.
It seemed to me that the morning was a great success.
PS…At the end of my last post I mentioned that have copies of the BASIS 2012 catalogue to give away for the asking. That offer is still open. Don’t be shy! No use having them sitting on my shelf.