Thursday, May 26, 2011

Master class

I wrote yesterday about taking a master class with Dorothy Caldwell, and Sandy posted some questions:
"Not having done that sort of master class, can you tell me what part the tutor plays in the process each student is involved with? Are you having tutorial times with Dorothy? Is there time where there are teacher/class plenary sessions? or is it all about having the space?"

Sandy, thanks for asking these questions.  I think master classes vary by teacher -- Dorothy and Nancy Crow are the only two people I have studied with in this format -- but I'll tell you what my experience has been.

At this level you're expected to have a preexisting body of work, which you will introduce to the teacher and the class. Then you announce an objective for the week.  As you begin working on it, the teacher will spend time with you as needed.  Sometimes you'll want help in making decisions, right away or as they come up.  Sometimes you'll want to have a heart-to-heart about your future plans rather than about the work you're doing this week.

There are usually group sessions to discuss subjects of general interest.  This week we talked about studio work routines, where you get inspiration, and websites/blogs/Facebook as means of self-promotion and communication.  Dorothy told us about her latest project, and gave a demonstration of the discharge techniques she uses.

I probably glossed too quickly in my earlier blog post over the role of the teacher.  She is the fulcrum around which the class revolves, and Dorothy is doing a wonderful job.  In my private discussions with her, I've been able to clarify many things about what direction I should take in the future, both artistically and in terms of  "career objectives."

I felt a bit guilty about bringing old work to this class, but have been very pleased with the results.  Dorothy helped me evaluate which pieces were worth finishing, which weren't, which were good enough that I should pursue the series.  She helped me judge which elements in my recent work were worth expanding on, which ones needed improvement, and which ones were successful.

Here I am with part of my huge work wall, color coordinated with my ironing surface -- photo by Dorothy Caldwell

Yes, the space was wonderful and I have accomplished a great deal that would have been difficult at home with my limited design walls.  That plus Dorothy have made a successful week for me.


  1. And I am green with envy. I was at Dorothy's Human Marks class last week. She has the great talent of saying just enough of just the right thing to move things along. I was so captivated that, completely unprepared as I would have been for the experience, I wanted to stay for the second week but I just couldn't manage it.


  2. so Melanie, you would also be color coordinated with my ironing surface

  3. I try not to clash. . . it's a workable life philosophy (if not always easy).