Friday, October 12, 2012

Class Review: Ode to Nature

At the end of summer, I took Alisa Burke's online class, "Ode to Nature."  I wanted to post a class review before I start my next class with her (Sketchbook Delight, Part 2), so here goes! Overall, I really enjoyed Ode to Nature, and I got a lot out of it.  For me, it was the right class at the right time.  It built on the drawing and sketching skills I've been developing this year and fed my love of photography. The class was scheduled over five weeks and cost $50 (although I enrolled at an early bird price of $40 or $45). The first week focused on journaling about nature. The second week featured photography prompts.  The third week was all about sketching, while week four featured a wide variety of art (drawing, doodling, painting, collage, etc.).  The focus of the final week was making crafts. If you check out Alisa's blog (here) and scroll back for the last several weeks you can see many examples of the type of projects featured in class.
The class was organized around an invitation only blog with written lessons supplemented by videos. The amount of content varied from week to week - the journaling lesson seemed particularly thin to me, while week four had a HUGE number of ideas and projects. I really like what I produced in weeks 2, 3 and 4. . . I feel like these things extended me in really good ways. Week 5 (craft and decor made with painted leaves, stick and rocks, etc.) was definitely not for me. The videos and lessons were both well done and provided different types of instruction.  I like Alisa's teaching style enough that I decided to take another of her classes. Overall, I think the content was quite good, although $50 feels just a little pricey perhaps.
I have two small criticisms of the class. First, the class seemed to lack a sense of community. There were three different places to post your art work and comment on others work: the blog; a flickr site; and a yahoo group.  Although this allowed participants to use a forum with which they were familiar, it led to a fragmented feel in my opinion. That said, I did make a few new blog friends (Hi Andy!).  The other small issue I had was that Alisa never seemed to visit any of the forums.  She certainly never commented on anything. She answered emails, but I'm used to instructors being more involved during the course. When I posted a question about this, people said this was typical.  These things were small drawbacks, though, and overall I would give the class a B+.
I'd love to hear what other people thought about the class or other classes taught by Alisa Burke!

14 comments:

boysmum2 said...

Not a painter or drawer, but love this picture, well done

Amy said...

I always enjy your class reviews Rinda. Obviously this is a class I am not likely to take, but your review solidifies many of the elements that I look for in an online class.
Great cairn!

Karen said...

When this post popped up on my Google Reader I said out loud "Oh I love that" and I do. Fabulous painting.

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

I've only stepped outside of Shimelle's classroom once, to sign up for Ali Edward's OLW, so it's interesting to read about what else is available. Loving all your sketches Rinda. Thankyou for your kind comment on 'Because I am a Girl' x

helena said...

Love teh cairn. I really enjoyed the work that you shared from this class

humel said...

Pretty much what Amy said :) I always find your reviews thoughtful and balanced, and interesting to read. $50 does sound quite a lot to me, but it sounds like there was a lot of variety within the class. Shame not to have more 'presence' from Alisa. I do like her experimental style and playfulness though - I found her via you in the first place, and have really enjoyed looking at her work and trying a couple of her ideas for myself :)

Karen said...

Lovely cairn! I enrolled in her introductory sketch class a few weeks ago when you posted a discount. I've watched all the Lesson 1 videos and found them quite good. I'm not surprised to read about the lack of teacher involvement. Since the class I'm taking is now a work-at-your-own-rate I guess I wasn't expecting much. Since I know next to nothing about sketching, I think I'll get a lot out of the class. We'll see if I have anything I'm willing to post. :-)Your reviews are always informative and fair.

Cheri said...

Love your reviews Rinda. It's too bad Alisa wasn't involved in the various forums. I love it when a teacher engages the students and comments on their projects - for me that might have tipped the scales to make the class worth the cost!

Elizabeth said...

Your drawing of the cairn is very good! Since Alisa never visited any of the forums, how did you get teacher feed back? Don't think I've ever paid $50 for a class.

Pat said...

Great class review. I am happy to have discovered your blog through the class - lot of content here that I plan to go back and explore over time! You have raised some of the same feelings I got from the class. She is so talented, and I do appreciate the huge amount of time it takes to assemble the wonderful photos and to take, edit, and post videos. So for that, kudos to Alisa. I also felt a little strange that the students were kind of on their own, with no interaction other than with each other. But with others' feedback, now I know this is the norm and when I take another class, I won't be thrown off guard. And I will probably take another class with her. I'll be watching for more discounts in the future, and am also interested in the sketchbook classes. Look forward to your future postings! (Sorry for this lengthy comment.)

scrappyjacky said...

That's a great cairn....love that I've learned a new word from you!!
I'd find it very disappointing to have a teacher who never interacted in the forum....to me that is part of the benefit of a class.
It does sound like you got a lot out of this class though.

Sian said...

I still say that cairn looks Irish :)

I always enjoy your class reviews, like everone else, and I think your minuses sound very fair. Teacher involvement in class is important to me and I would be disappointed too. If I ever taught a class I can't imagine not chiming in - you know me, it wou;d be too hard to resist lol

Andy said...

Hello Rinda, I feel you have done a great job in summarising this Class. As you know, it was my first on-line course so I didn't know what to expect and I really enjoyed the experience and meeting you was an added bonus. I liked the variety each week and felt each section was well organised. For me, one of the highlights of the course (apart from some new blog friends!) was that it has been a stepping stone to getting me back into my own artwork, which does rather take a backseat because of my teaching schedule. I went from Alisa's course to Flora Bowley's abstract course, which was quite a leap.
As a newcomer to e-courses, I was rather confused by the number of places where to place artwork. It certainly would have helped me if there had been just one site to visit. It was ok during the school holidays but once back teaching, I just couldn't do justice to the group community. In regard to lack of input from Alisa on the Forum, as a newcomer I didn't know what to expect, so wasn't too disappointed. If it helps, on Flora's course she does say that she doesn't like giving her opinions on people's artwork as she feels she would be influencing their outcome.
Really enjoying your sketches for the 'Cabinet of Curiosities' challenge. I am presently working on an idea to join in this challenge.
Have a great weekend, Andy.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Lovely illustration ~ definitely a delight of nature ~ (A Creative Harbor)

Thanks so much for coming by and commenting ^_^