Odds and Ends

The last couple of days have been whirlwind of catching up, meeting some deadlines I put off until after my California trip, contracts, cleaning, trying to find my house again, piles of laundry, and some terrific social events.

I got an email today from Lisa Skura, my class angel in the three day jacket workshop in California, letting me know that one of the conference attendees posted all of her photos, many from the fashion show, on a Picasa website, her name is Helene Korn, and the pictures are fun.  Check it out.

I received an email notification a couple days ago, that I was finally accepted to teach at the CNCH (Conference of Northern California Handweavers), April 8-11, 2010, in Santa Clara.  This is a particularly important conference to me, and getting this acceptance means a lot.

Sidebar:  When I was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, one of the hardest things for me to face, and I know this is going to sound really odd, was writing the letters canceling four teaching commitments, three of them conferences, and it was that act, not losing a breast, not the trauma to my family, not the six months of chemo, but the canceling of commitments that nearly undid me.  When you face a life altering thing like cancer, the stress manifests itself in the oddest places.  I honestly didn’t care about the breast.  I was happy to lose it if it would save my life.  I wasn’t happy that I couldn’t finish what I had started, the conferences that I had committed to, and my work meant everything to me.

One of the conferences I had to cancel was the CNCH conference for 2002.  I was eventually invited to participate in the Asilomar Retreat held on the off years of the CNCH, but not the conference itself.  I always felt like I had something to finish and was frustrated I couldn’t make up for not being able to follow through.

So, when I returned from California, earlier this week, I had an acceptance waiting for me, to teach at the CNCH conference, and I immediately felt a huge relief that I could finally finish what I had started seven years ago.  I will eventually update my website calendar when the dust settles a bit more around here, so stay tuned…

Yesterday evening, I hopped on a bus, and headed into NYC to hear a lecture, sponsored by the Textile Study Group of NY.  The lecture was on Photographing your Work.  Yes, I know I teach this subject, I just gave the workshop to a wonderful group of people in Southern California, but when I offered my services to the Textile Study Group, I was told that they were looking for a real professional photographer.

So, I paid my $25. and hopped on a bus, and went to hear D. James Dee, a very well respected art photographer in NYC, teach a seminar on Photographing your Work.  I am glad I went, first, it was so interesting to be in a HUGE space, where lights can be placed anywhere, and backdrops can cover whole walls and tables.  Also, there are things I know, things I have been taught, but I actually didn’t understand completely why they were so. I actually got some clarification on a couple things I knew instinctively, but not why.  I also understood quickly the advantages of having someone who is an experienced teacher, and knows how break things down in an organized fashion to a varied group of students of all different levels.  I followed everything he was saying, because I do this sort of thing, but I sensed that many in the class were lost.  Mr. Dee is a terrific photographer, but I am not sure how experienced he is at teaching.

Also, since he is a professional photographer, the class wasn’t so much on photographing your work as it was on what to do with the disk of images that comes from a professional photographer.  Which I can see can be a real issue for artists that aren’t so computer literate.  If nothing else, the class made me much more confident that what I teach in my class, is really useful information in an organized fashion, that can be put to immediate use by the most average picture taker.  And, I produce a monograph in full color, that is a reproduction of the PowerPoint presentation, so students don’t have to take any notes!

Today I worked the whole day working on my sister, the architect’s website, I’m making great progress on the project pages, having a blast in Photoshop CS4, taking mediocre photos of beautiful homes she has designed, and turning them into magazine shots.  In all fairness to my sister, taking shots of a 4,500 square foot sprawling home is pretty difficult to do with a point and shoot camera, without getting keystone distortion, but Photoshop is my friend, and I corrected some amazing shots.  It is also really neat to carefully work through my sister’s body of work, I know what she does, but since she lives and works in rural northern Maryland, I don’t get to see her work first hand.  She designed the addition on my home, but that was 20 years ago.  I will say I’m really impressed.

Tonight my husband, daughter and I went to the Papermill Playhouse for one of our subscription series shows, the current production is Master Class, which was worthy of the standing ovation it received.  Barbara Walsh played opera diva Maria Callas, who retired from her singing career and taught a series of renowned master classes at Julliard in 1971.  The dialogue spoke of the passion of the arts, how important they are in our lives, and about finding the soul in your work.  I would love to get a copy of the script, there are many quotable lines in the show, and it isn’t lost on me, the perfect timing of the show, especially in this very difficult time for all of the arts with the seriousness of the downturn in the economy, and how bleak the immediate future is for many of our renowned institutions.

I am promising myself, that before the weekend is over, I will finish cutting out the pieces for the Arctic Sky Jacket.  I am longing to start sewing before the weather gets warm and I can’t wear the jacket!

Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of the American Sewing Guild neighborhood chapter I wrote about in my blog last month.  I think I’ll take my dress from the fashion show for Show and Tell…

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Ann Tompkins
Ann Tompkins
March 14, 2009 7:55 pm

I was in your photography workshop last weekend and you are a wonderful teacher. There may be people who are more knowledgeable but if they are not a good teacher they are not able to help their students. You were very careful and I don’t think that any of your students were lost. Your workshop was wonderful and I have already put your tips to good use.

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