Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cultivating a Beginner's Mind

Shoshin means "beginner's mind:"  having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.  There are specific techniques for cultivating it, including discarding fear of failure, and embracing falling down, as well as getting back up. 

I tried to keep these principles in mind on Saturday, when I attended a wonderful day long class taught by Nathalie Kalbach and Julie Balzer at The Ink Pad.   (Thank you Nathalie for letting me use some of your pictures.  I was paying such close attention that I didn't take many of my own!)

Julie and Nat had us use the same supplies, but they taught very different approaches to collage.  Nathalie's approach was in my comfort zone - having a recognizable focus point and using collage to help tell a story.  Here's what I made. Although I expect to do more with it, I already like it...
Julie taught a more abstract approach - and boy was I out of my comfort zone.  I can't say I'm happy with what I did.  To be honest, at some point I kind of gave up out of frustration.    But as Julie so aptly said, who ever learned anything from their successes?  (She actually said a few other choice words - you have to take a class with her to get the flavor!)   I'm determined to revisit these two pieces, and resist the temptation to add a face or cut one of them up into fun shapes for another piece!  I'm also really glad I'm going to a workshop with Jane Davies in a few weeks - she's also an abstract artist and I definitely need more work in this area!  Plus, I'll be there with my bud - Judy Shea - so no matter what, it will be a blast!

Here's the whole group with their pieces.  It was a big class, and Julie and Nat were great about getting around to everyone and sharing so generously.  I loved watching them work separately and together - and especially enjoyed seeing the respect and affection they showed each other.  Plus, the two of them are pretty funny so we all had a lot of laughs!

Julie and Nat are great teachers - individually and together, and I look forward to taking more classes with them.  In fact, I definitely plan to take Nat's class on June 8th at The Ink Pad to hone my knowledge about acrylics:

How about you?  What classes are making your heart sing these days? 

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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  1. Jessica.. All I see here is beauty in your work. I bet taking classes with N & J is so fun and worth it. I'm looking forward to the workshop with Jane and hanging out with you. We will explode with new learning, then collapse.

  2. I like your abstract work Jessica, maybe you should put it away for a while and then reconsider cutting it up...

  3. I can just imagine the wonderful time everyone had!! I know how it feels sometimes to be taken out of your comfort zone in a class and not being happy with what you create, but I bet now that you've had time to think about what you've learned -and look back at your beautiful creations you are very happy indeed! How cool that you are going to take a class by Jane too-I love her work.

  4. Sounds like a great class! Love that first piece you did, but your abstract art looks great too.

  5. Jessica- love all three pieces! What a great class to have taken- I'm sure it was a blast- and I liked hearing how you used the same tools but in different ways! Very cool!

  6. I liked both pieces that you made in the class. I guess that's what I'm going to have to do - take a class - so I get started in this art form. I make greeting cards but they are more structured than abstract. I need to do some free-form work. Glad you had a good time at the class and were able to get out of your box.

  7. I definitely see your "style" in the first piece, Jessica, but in the other pieces, I see a bit more of your free spirit. These are not unlike some of your photos from Guatemala. Sometimes, your face was very focused on your work, yet other times, the "inner child" was allowed to come out and play. Both are good faces, just as your work here. Allow yourself to be free to be... Looking forward so much to meeting you later this month!

  8. It was a wonderful day and it was very good to have you :) I love your abstract pieces - give them a second chance before cutting them up :)

  9. I can feel the energy in the room! I know what you mean about the different styles. Maybe let the abstracts rest a bit and then go back to them?

  10. Oh don't cut it up! I like it as it is! I think you need to live with it for a while! Patsy


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