Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life In An Esterita Austin Class

The ridgeline & brooding sky that greeted us as we arrived for our first day of class

You know the old beginning "...it was a dark and cloudy day...", well something along those lines anyway! Such was last Friday - the day on which our Esterita Austin journey began. Esterita offered two classes, a one day class called "Painting For Illusion" & a two day class called "Creating The Illusion of Depth". Naturally, my thinking is that if one day is good then three days is better and so I embarked on a colorful quilting journey last Friday, 6th February. I was so engaged in the process that, unfortunately, I neglected to take photos of the two day class project - although I may be able to add a photo or two of the class pattern that we used for the class at a later date.

The class venue was excellent. It is right on water in a veritably new building that is owned & operated by one of our local Indian tribes. There was actually room enough to have one table per student - and as someone who invariable spreads all of her stuff all over the place, this was really a boon! Fidalgo Island Quilters is a fabulous organization. Known for offering classes by well know teachers & for always having something interesting going on. It the most active guild I have ever been pleased to belong to. The dues are such a bargain for all of the wonderful opportunities that exist within this talented group! The FIQ folks are also truly remarkable women;gracious, friendly & supportive - it's just a pleasure to be around these gals! If I lived closer I would love to be able to be more involved with them - and that says a lot for a non-joiner type like I can be!
The one day class was perfection in a nutshell - just enough to make one realize that there really was something special about this technique - do-able for those who had no experience with fabric & paint and yet complicated enough to engage the most experienced of quilter's/artist's as well. Esterita provided a photograph of a still life that she had composed - a simple matter of a cup & saucer & two small pitchers. Piles of batiks brightened the room and scissors and Exacto cutters started clacking away. The key to Esterita's technique is to use fabric to it's very best advantage & then to add paint to make it even more perfect - painting adds the 'pop' factor in this technique. You just have to see it to believe it!
When Saturday rolled around I was still feeling a bit 'pie-eyed' from day one but I was eager to begin the next journey. The photo that we used for the 2 day class was piece filled &, at first glance, a challenge. I generally paint pieces of fabric to applique onto a quilt. Esterita uses ready made fabric that she enhances in order to make the pieces work. I had to re-shuffle my thinking a bit. At the end of day one I realized that I should concentrate on finishing only a portion of the piece.Choosing the best pieces of a batik print to use was a more daunting challenge than I had thought it would be! That being said it is also really a very engaging process - more like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together. Very enjoyable - and it could even become a bit addicting.

I should mention that when I attend a class I just about never anticiapte finishing the piece that I make - or using it - for anything other than a learning tool. I like to make sure that I understand the process being presented & I never worry about whether or not I finish the piece or not. I like to take what I have learned & store it away in my memory bank (what's left of it !) and use it in way that speaks to me & my own work. I have developed that thinking because I used to get so dang frustrated when I could not "keep up" in a class & then would become stressed because of it. Now I have no stress to compete or complete - as long as I understand the techniques that are presented - I am a happy student!

Sunday brought refinement and more experimentation. Unfortunately, those of us (there were 5) who traveled to the class from our island home, had to leave much too early in order to make a suitable ferry back. The Winter ferry sailing schedule is limited to begin with & one needs to get in line at least an hour before sailing time for the 1 to 1.5 hour journey home. Esterita is one of those teachers that I love to work with because she is one of the most 'student concerned' teachers I have met; circulating through the room constantly to make certain that everyone is comfortable with the technoque & gets the attention & guidance that they need. Some teachers use time to work on a small project of their own - not Esterita! She is all about her students - really a most excellent, gifted teacher! Anyone who considers hiring her to teach will not be disapointed. I want very mcuh to take a portraiture workshop with her - that class is almost tailor made to suit me I think! Thanks to Fidalgo Island Quilters for offering this class ,and to Esterita for developing her fabulous techniques & for her enthusiasm for her students! It was a really memorable few days & I also must thank my friend Janet for enabling me to have a great off island jaunt! We also enjoyed some retail therapy time - and that was lots of fun!
This is the beach right near to the door to the class room area
Here is another view of the beach to the right of the door

This, however, is the view directly across from the beach - an oil refinery.

That's Mount Baker shining beautifully in the background. It's very difficult for me to reconcile these two very different views. My friend Janet noticed an oil slick on the waters of the small cove that we drove by on the way into the hall area - that's the difficult thing and, when I notice all of the wonderful wildlife in the area I think of how fragile & precious they really are. The dichotomy between these two very different views is, to my way of thinking, a very good argument for development of wind & other alternate energy solutions. We simply cannot afford to endanger our wildlife.

On another note, I am finding that fibromyalgia & the attendant chronic fatigue (as well as the pesky degenerative disc issues) have truly impacted the way I am able enjoy class time. I need far more rest than anyone should have to require. Without it, I am useless as an engaged student. Thanks to Janet, I was able to stay in a lovely place with all of the comforts of home. It was a blessing too that both of us enjoy retiring early -but, even with this environment it becomes difficult for me. I get so darn tired so easily. I feel as though a part of my life has been stolen from me at exactly the time in my life when I should be able to enjoy doing all of the things that I worked too much to enjoy earlier in life. At the same time that I am grateful that this is 'all' that I have, I also pray that research will find a 'cure' that will return my energy & pain free life to me. I also pray that doctors will become more understanding of those of us who truly do suffer from this dispiriting disorder. I want so much to travel more before I pass and yet now I wonder how I will mange to do that! That's my pity party for the eon - thanks for getting this far! I brought this up in part to explain why I am also more lax lately about regular blogging. The spirit is always willing by the body sometimes says "no"!

8 comments:

Jeannie said...

Thank you so much for the review of your class. What an amazing teacher. I saw that she was teaching at Quiltworks NW, but this time of year I tend not to plan things that require travel over the passes. Thanks for the photo of Mt Baker - what a beacon of beauty. I really look forward to seeing how you incorporate what you learned this weekend into your art work. As to the pity party - we all need to vent our frustrations and it seemed pretty mild to me! Take care of yourself and I hope the sun comes out for you this week. Cheers.

Dionne said...

I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed your Esterita Austin class. she was teaching near me not too long ago, but I couldn't take the class.

I hope you are feeling better.
Cheers,
Dionne

tiedyejudy said...

Marie,
What a wonderful time you must have had! I am thrilled, because our Quilter's Guild will be sponsoring Esterlita for a powerpoint presentation and trunk show at 'Quilting in the Pines' this year. Don't know if she will be offering any classes, but if so, I am seriously tempted to sign up! Thanks for the post, and I hope you are feeling better.
Judy

Sandy said...

It sounds like it was a wonderful class-glad you were able to do it inspite of health issues. They are so frustrating.

judy coates perez said...

It looks like it was a wonderful series of classes. You are lucky to have a guild that is so well suited for you.

Sorry about the health issues, my sister also has fibro. It is so frustrating to see her struggle with medical care that basically thinks she is a hypochondriac, when all she wants is relief from the chronic pain.

claudine hellmuth said...

hi there! you won my blog giveaway for the online class. email me your email address and I'll get it all set up!

Guzzisue said...

((((hugs)))) looks like it was a great class :-)

Robin said...

I had a sense that Esterita would be a wonderful teacher and it sounds like she was! I'm interested to hear and see how you work these methods of painting into your work! Thanks for writing about it!

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