Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Class Review: The Art of Wild Abandonment

I have struggled with writing this review, just as I have struggled with finishing the signature art journal page from the class (above).  But I wanted to post something before I forgot everything. So, here goes.  The Art of Wild Abandonment was a class offered by Christy Tomlinson but taught mainly by Junelle Jacobsen of the Yes and Amen Blog. The list price was $45, but I paid the early bird price of $35.  It was a good class, but it was so badly in need of an editor that I ended up unhappy with it. There. I said it. I feel bad saying anything negative about the class because the two teachers are both super sweet and extremely talented. I also learned a ton, and the class had a huge amount of content.
But, it could have been so much better if there had just been a little more organization of the lessons. And the videos, while fun and inspiring, really truly needed to be edited. It seems to me that sometimes right brained artists feel that having someone with a left brain help them out is a bad thing because it might constrain their creativity. On-line teachers, let me tell you, from a consumer's perspective, it's not a bad thing. Really.
The class ran for three weeks.  Each week had about four lessons created by Junelle, and each lesson had a video with several parts. In addition, Christy added at least one video a week to show how she used the lessons which Junelle presented.  The first week focused on sketching and painting with water colors. Those of you who follow my blog realize what a huge positive impact this had on my creativity and the direction of my art. 

The second week focused on paper piecing and using acrylic paint. I also completed most of these lessons and enjoyed the projects I made. 
The third week dealt with texture and three dimensional projects. I didn't do many of these (although I did like the basic idea of using a roof brush to dry my brushes, I wasn't into the idea of decorating the brush with fabric). I did like the canvas and inspiration board I created.
Since I clearly got so much out of the class, I feel bad complaining. But, here's the deal. When the first week's lessons went up, it was unclear how many lessons/videos there were or whether you were supposed to watch them in a particular order. I posted a question about it and got a very nebulous answer. Early on, the class needed a road map or overview of the forest because it was too easy to get lost in the trees. This was mainly because the videos had to be split into several parts because they were not edited, and they ran for about 45 minutes each. Now, I love watching people create, but I would much rather see a nicely edited 12-15 minute video than a rambly 45 minute one (split into several parts) which includes the artist leaving to go answer the phone or time passing watching something dry. (Junelle would occasionally say, "Christie, you should fast forward through this part." Unfortunately, the fast forwarding did not happen). Junelle also made clear at the beginning of each video that she wasn't sure what she was going to do in the video, which (while somewhat endearing) led to a lot of trial and error and hmming and stammering and videos that were much longer than they needed to be. Eventually I felt like the teachers were not valuing my time because they felt like I had 2.5 hours to watch unedited video to find the core of the lessons. I think that the problem could have been ameliorated (even without editing the videos) if the week's lessons were spaced out a bit - so  the first part of the lesson might go up on Monday, the second part Tuesday, etc. But, again, that level of organization (recognizing which part came first, second, etc.) did not seem to be something that the teachers wanted to put into the class for some reason.  Instead, each Monday a flood gate was opened with a bunch of amazing creativity flowing out. I learned from it and was inspired, but the teachers could have made it so much easier for that process to happen. Sigh.
The class seemed to be a good size. There were plenty of participants at all levels to learn from and get ideas, but not so many that you couldn't look at everything.  Instead of a forum, Junelle set up a facebook group page. And I think that worked pretty well. Junelle was active on the page and tried to give feedback to most everyone. As the class went on and people fell behind, it was a little hard to see what people were doing. But I think the facebook approach is not a bad one, although it could use some tweaking.
I find it really hard to assign a letter grade to this class. On one hand, it had a huge amount of  information which has really changed me as an artist. On the other hand, the lack of an editor left me unhappy and a little sad because of the potential greatness of the class. I guess I would ultimately give the class a B, and I would have to think long and hard before taking another class  from these teachers. 
So, what do you think? Am I being too tough? Am I expecting too much for there to be organization/structure and unbridled, wild creativity? Your thoughts definitely welcomed (especially if you took the class).


Karen said...

I always appreciate your honest assessment of the online classes you take. I don't think you're being too tough. Although I didn't take the class, I'm quite sure I would have been equally frustrated by the lack of organization and run-on videos. Nonetheless, the art you created is wonderful, so a B seems like a very fair grade.

Cheri said...

My criticism would be much the same. While I like a lot of content, this one was perhaps too much and I agree that it should have been more spaced out. I still haven't finished with even the projects I WANT to do!

Elizabeth said...

I've been disappointed in a few classes I've taken. However, I never had the courage to say anything about it. I admire that you were able to point out the problems with the class. Perhaps, if the class is offered in the future, changes will be made for the better. Good for you!

scrappyjacky said...

An interesting review,Rinda....I didn't take this class but I have loved the Christy classes that I've taken...but I would tend to agree that her videos could easily be better edited...they aren't particularly 'professional' ....though she did fast forward through some parts.
I actually quite liked that she didn't always know at the start what she was going to make....it allowed me to see her creative processes at work.

Jo Murray said...

Sounds like a fair criticism Rinda. I tend to like a little organisation at workshops or time is wasted that could be used creatively.

Carola Bartz said...

Your honesty speaks from my heart, Rinda! Although I didn't take this particular class, I've taken three other classes with Christy, at Junelle had a part in one of those classes. While I learned a lot, loved all the techniques and admored their creativity, I found the videos very unprofessional and the "rambling" a tad annoying. Recently I took two online classes by other people - highly creative people with VERY organized and professional videos.

Ginger said...

Rinda - I appreciate your honesty, if you felt this way then likely others did too. I have taken Christy's classes as well and although I really love her work, I would agree the videos require excellent editing.

Missus Wookie said...

I appreciate your honesty and share the frustration with the unedited class video phenomenon - I didn't take this class but have taken others that also would have been so much better with some editing.

As a person who teaches and who will be doing her first online next year I've also taken notes :)

Prairie Jill said...

Thank you for this review! I was just looking at the class and thought it sounded interesting, but wanted to find out a bit more about it. Your review showed up on my google search.

I've read this review and browsed through some of your past reviews, too, and I really appreciate them. You talk about the good things in each class, but I also like your willingness to point out some of the things that could be improved.

Based on your review here, I'm not sure whether I'll do this class or not. I think the videos might drive me crazy! But, if I do take it, at least I'll be prepared.