Nancy Crow workshop: Potpourri: days 1 & 2

nc5-proj1part02Do you remember those thirty mini compositions I made a couple weeks ago? I made them to prepare for another luxurious week at Nancy Crow’s Timber Barn last week. It really is such a treat for me to go. Back when I was still working for an engineer full time, I remember pouring over each brochure, year after year, longing to go. I feel very privileged that God has arranged things so I can take advantage of learning from Nancy now.

It’s true that I am completely a fish out of water in many respects. I mean, I do portraits and figurative work which is so very different than Nancy’s work, or anyone else’s at these classes for that matter, but I do it because it is a good growing experience. Some might say, a “groaning” experience. Well, there might be some validity to that as well! In any case, I look forward to each and every opportunity to learn in that fabulous environment. One reason I love going is because I get an entire week to play with fabric. True, it’s frustrating at times, but pure joy at others. You are also surrounded by many amazing artists. Many of these ladies have taken ten or more workshops with Nancy, and they make some terrific art! The atmosphere is wonderful, inspiring, and energetic. And then, of course, they also feed you two amazing gourmet meals each day.

This time I took the workshop entitled, “Potpourri I: A Challenging Variety of Exercises.” I didn’t know what to expect, but it didn’t really matter. Each time I go, I am challenged in a new way, and I look forward to that. This time, Nancy was really trying to get us to think about “flat” and “glowing” colors. If you’ve studied color very much, you might know that color has three aspects: the hue (red, green, blue, etc.), the value (light, medium, or dark), and the intensity (pure, vivid, muted, dull, etc.). Nancy’s idea of “flat” and “glowing” colors is closest to the intensity aspect of color.


We started by picking one of our little compositions. She wanted the black and the white to be roughly equal, so right away I had to “fatten up” my lines. Then we made multiple versions of the same composition using a variety of blacks, whites, grays, and browns. Once we had sixteen blocks, we cut each of them in four pieces and tried to create a composition using the 64 pieces. Since my block was about 12″ square to begin with, the pieces were still too big after cutting them up, so the composition wasn’t that interesting.


To challenge me further, Nancy encouraged me to cut each of them up into four more pieces so I would have 256 little bits to play with. I don’t think my final composition was really that good, but I really liked the process and the idea behind breaking up familiar parts into new shapes and working with those. I realized that I tend to create the same curving, sweeping lines over and over, so this forced me into something new. Always a good thing!

The other thing we all learned as a group was how much a color can change based on what it is placed next to. Some colors looked very “flat” and dull when placed next to one color, but when they were moved, they all of a sudden looked brighter and more “glowing.” This exercise really drove home the point of how much we should pay attention to how we pick out the colors we’re going to use.

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