Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artist Sara Naumann

 I'm looking forward to meeting artist and teacher Sara Naumann in person at Art & Soul, Virginia in a couple of weeks time.  She is flying all the way from Amsterdam to teach!  Sara's art has been published in a number of publications:  Somerset Studio, Somerset Apprentice and in beading and jewelry magazines  Sara has taught workshops in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and across the US.   I am in awe of the fact that Sara balances her role as artist and teacher with that as mother of a one-year old daughter.   So if you are a mother who wants to know how find time for your art, read on as Sara has some tips for you.

Catherine:   Tell me more about one of your classes--what techniques students will learn, how you developed the project, what you're excited about.
Sara:  I’m excited about all three of my classes, but the one I’m especially keen to talk about is the Journal of Musings. This is an evening workshop that’s designed to offer a sort of “breathing space” for students. Art & Soul (and so many retreats) is full of life and energy—sometimes it helps to have some time in the midst of all the excitement to look inward, to pause and reflect. 
The workshop combines very simple meditation with journaling prompts focused on key areas in our creative lives. I’ll ask students questions that they can then journal about in the class. It’s going to be a very relaxed, introspective time and I think a good way for people to pause and rejuvenate. The project was initially developed in response to my own experience in meditation-with-journaling and the surprising (and very useful) things that come out of a session like this.

Catherine: How has your artistic style developed over the years, especially in terms of your teaching? Do you develop a different sort of art for the classes you teach, or have you developed techniques because of a teaching experience?
Sara: My artistic style has definitely evolved over the years, mostly due to lifestyle changes. I moved from a place (Portland, Oregon) that has a lot of readily-available craft supplies to one (Amsterdam, Netherlands) that has few craft stores but lots of art supply stores and markets. So my supplies-on-hand have changed, which has forced me to investigate materials I might not have thought about using before.  I also take classes, which teaches me new techniques but more importantly, allows me the time to nurture my own creative spirit. Sometimes people wonder why a teacher is taking classes—I think it’s vital that we do.
As for developing techniques in light of my own workshops…when I’m working in my studio, half of my mind is always thinking, “Can I teach this in a class? Could I write an article about this?” and then, “What questions would the students/readers ask?” Those questions very often lead me down interesting paths, as I imagine students saying, “Okay, but what happens if I do this instead of that?” Well, I’d like to have an answer for them!

Catherine: With a young child how do you find time for your art?
Sara: Naps, naps, naps! J I have a daughter, Anna, who will be one in February—she goes to kinderdagverblijf (daycare) two days a week. Those are my days to make stuff, design classes, put together class kits, etc. All the messy stuff or projects that require concentration or need to be kept away from little fingers. On the other weekdays, I take advantage of her naps to do quicker projects or writing.
My studio is a shed outside, so if I’m going to make art while she naps, I need to bring materials inside and set up on the kitchen table. So the night before, I decide what I’m going to work on during Nap #1 and Nap #2, then I fill a cardboard box with the supplies I need, and put it in the closet. When she falls asleep, I whisk it out and when she wakes up, I pop it all back in the box and into the closet. Evenings and weekends, my husband and I tag-team it so we each have time to do our own things.
One thing about kids, though—I think playing with kids is one of the best ways to get your creativity going. There’s nothing like making up silly songs, making stuffed animals “talk” in funny voices, or going to the park or the petting zoo to force you to relax and have fun. And that, for me, can be just the break I need to get my creativity going.
But I have to say, this year has been a biiiiiig learning curve for me in terms of balance and flexibility. And I don’t get it right all the time by any means—some days are great, some days are hard…and sometimes, each day is it’s own exercise in creativity as I’m just trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing.
Oh, one more thing…as a person who loves to say YES to projects, I’ve found that having a limited amount of time has really forced me (in a good way) to learn to say NO to things I don’t have time for, so that I do have time for the things I want to do.

Catherine: Do you work in a planned or intuitive way?  How would you describe your approach?
Sara: I’m a “planny” sort of person anyway, so I like having a general idea in my mind before I get started. That said, once I have the gist of something down, I love just seeing where the path goes—whether that’s trying a different color or seeing what would happen if I did this to that…
I also structure what I call Lab Times into my creative work time. This is where I have a sort of self-assigned question or idea or thought and just want to see if something would work. This relieves me of any stress over “making” something, and the experiments are usually where I come up with the most useable techniques. (Even if the experiment only allows me to tell people what not to do!)
Catherine: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Sara: I love the connections that happen in a class—between students, between me and the students, between the students and the technique or product or their result. I feel pretty privileged to be a part of this greater creative community, where we can all share what we know.

Thank you Sara!

Sara's class on Lazertran Transfers is so popular that it is full, but there is still space in her Narrative Jewelry class and her Journal of Musings class.

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