Re: ironing gum prints and other musings
Since I'm an absolute rank beginner in the realm of gum printing, I've never taught it, of course. I have taught pt/pd, cyanotype, pinhole/ toy camera, Polaroid transfer/emulsion lifts/SX70 stuff, hand- tinting-- and the student ages, abilities, backgrounds, and training have definitely run the gamut. In my experience, though, I agree completely that the students who sustained any interest in any of these processes, and the creative "success" of what they achieved in the class-- seemed to depend *almost* entirely on the personality of the student.
Those who are really open to learning something new, even if it is incredibly frustrating, and have no designs to take away perfect workshop prints (though some do), and who are just willing to try new and creative options-- those students just amaze me. Often, I felt like I learned (and still do) from those particular types, most especially that ability to try new options, and not worry about the "perfect" print, or ruining what looks like is about to become a "perfect" print.
Some years ago, this art center convinced me to teach a bunch of rising 9th graders for a 6 week period, after school. I have no idea why I agreed. While the class turned out to be what you might expect, there was this one student who was about 16-- he'd failed a couple of grades. I took one look at him at the beginning of the class and figured he was gonna be trouble with a capital T. Turns out this kid was so into learning these processes, and tried all kinds of creative ideas, especially with Polaroid emulsion lifts/transfers. I was really amazed. He was focused, interested, and one of the most creative people I've ever taught, before or since. He was also really generous with what he seemed to instinctively know. I don't know what happened to him, but I hope he got to art school.
You'd think that most people who sign up for any "alt" class would all have that kind of personality, but that doesn't seem to be the case (in my experience). Those students who "excel," and those who just find all "alt" printing frustrating or not exactly what they expected (ie, "hey--these pinhole images aren't sharp-- what's up with that??")-- always surprise me. I'm usually wrong, too, when I make the predictions in my head (based on nothing more than how they look and seem in the first hour of the class). Usually, the ones who *sound like* they know a lot are, in the end, just good readers who retain every word of what they read. (Again, just my experience.) I do find that fascinating.
Anyway, students always want to know what they need to bring into the first class, and I usually say, "a sense of humor, please." Those who actually have one seem to do really well, too. They just don't get frustrated so easily-- or, if they do, they sure have more fun.
As an aside, I wanted to thank you again for your help, Chris-- and Don-- and also to Marek, whose gum posts from yesterday I actually printed off. Somebody else here, too-- Keith maybe(?)-- posted something a month or so ago about his 3 favorite gum pigments, which I also printed off and used. He was right. :) I also found Katharine's website about pigments really useful, too. So, thanks all. I'm working on trying not to be one of those frustrated alt [mainly gum] printers myself. I think, since starting gum, my sense of humor has actually improved. Well . . . maybe only a little.
On May 1, 2008, at 10:27 AM, Christina Z. Anderson wrote: