When Lynn Trochelman, a calligrapher and artist friend, asked me if I’d be interested in leading a class on a Yahoo Group, I was interested. The group read and worked their way through art books, chapter by chapter, doing the exercises. They wanted to work through my book, Raw Art Journaling. Really? A whole group so interested that they would plow through whole books? The group is Artists of the Round Table (ART), run by Jacqui Graham, a funny, encouraging and wise group leader.
And yes, the group chooses books, then a leader steps up and guides the group through the exercises. Jacqui was careful to explain to me that I didn’t have to guide the group, but they were interested in my book. And no, it wasn’t a paying gig.
The reason I said yes is because every writer wants to know if the exercises in the book work, if people can actually do the exercises. So I had to say yes.
I designed an 11-week class. Each week had a choice of exercises so people who didn’t like one exercise would find another juicy.I decided to draw each week’s post, and ran into the very thing I teach in my classes–not everyone learns the same way. So I added a written version.
Each week, participants posted their work for the week. Each person who signed up purchased the book, to see the details and example.
What was most intriguing is that each person’s interpretation of the lesson was completely different and original. No one’s artwork looked like any other.
When the class was over, I missed it, but I was leaving for book signings and JournalFest. A few days ago, Lynn and I got together for an art day, and she brought out a book of photos. Except they weren’t photos, they were postcards.
Raw art postcards. Lynn and Jacqui had organized members of the group to make raw art postcards and send them in. I couldn’t believe it. They had done work for 11 weeks, and then spent time and effort making postcards. Each one chose a chapter and exercise from the book and did a postcard using a technique from that chapter. I couldn’t stop looking at the postcards. Lynn and Jacqui had done it all behind the scenes. It was wonderful to feel that much appreciation.
The postcards are wonderful for so many reasons. That people did them at all. That they wrote affirming and wonderful words on the cards. But secretly, my favorite joy is that I can show the cards to classes and tell them, “people made these simply to satisfy their own creativity. They tapped into what pleased them and made meaning. This is what it looks like. You don’t have to be an illustrator to make art. You have to be ready to explore your own heart.”
Heart is what everyone had so much of. Heart is what makes art and people special.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you. I’m so grateful to have had the honor to spend time with you and learn so much from our time together. It means so very much to me that you took time from your own busy days and made these cards. I never have had anything like this happen, and I’m so very grateful it did.
–Quinn McDonald is overwhelmed with all this. You can get your copy of the book plus free shipping on her website. But only till December 31, 2011.