You read about the amazing community of like minded girls (and one guy). You’ve read about my class with Andrea Matus DeMeng. Now my class with Michael DeMeng.
I did a class with Michael 5 years ago and he remembers me. He remembers I flew down to Sydney. He remembers my name (plus it was probably on his class list) but he puts my face to the name quickly. I’m thinking that’s pretty damn awesome and I feel excited to learn from him again.
We start with some examples of Michaels work at which point I abandon part of my idea already, determining it too cutesy wootsy for a DeMeng class. We get some tool instructions and painty information then go back to our desk to start work. First thing I do is accidentally snap the head off my barbie doll. Michael tells me not to panic, it’s easily fixed. He calls me over and helps me repair her, saying he knows I’ll fret until we fix it. Obviously done classes with lots of girls before.
The repair lasts until I get back to my desk, at which point I then snap her neck off. Bloody hell, this is not going to plan at all. The girl next to me has barely started and hers looks awesome already. She is a new art friend who is super sweet and we have a giggle together about my disintegrating Barbie. If I was at home, I wouldn’t have been laughing but something about being here makes me take it in my stride, shrug my shoulders and keep on going.
I struggle with putting her back together. I eventually pour heaps of glue down here neck then wrap her neck in masking tape. Cause that looks natural…?! I decide to soak some netting mesh in matt medium and wrap it around her to cover the snapped neck and masking tape. Hey, that actually looks pretty awesome.
As Michael gives us instruction, a guest of the hotel with kids walks past just in time to hear Michael talk about mutilating toys. You can imagine the look on his face – it was priceless and had us all in fits of laughter. Oh yes, we’re deMented.
I work for ages on my Barbie, turning her into a mermaid before discovering the materials we are using are not designed for heavy handed angels like me. It looks like a clay pinch pot I made in grade two. Okay, lets put that aside and focus on altering the frame.
Paint just doesn’t seem to be happening, it’s missing something. I ask Michael how he got a certain look on one of his pieces and he gives me a lot of time on my own to help me get my head around the technique. I take a break for afternoon tea and come back knowing what I want to do next. One layer added and I start to understand how it works and am happier with how it’s coming together.
Before I know it, the class is finished. My work is no-where near completed and I wonder if I will know what to do to finish it off at home. And if I’ll be brave enough to finish it. But Michael’s chant on the process stays with me and I have the confidence to just keep following his technique to make it happen. He tells us taking a step back will help us see where we need to add something next. And that sometimes happy accidents are what makes a piece come together.
His suggestion of walking away the moment I feel frustrated sits well with me. I very rarely work from start to finish in one go. I work until I’m feeling lost and awkward. I walk away and come back to it later when I have an idea for what to do next. So nice to hear he works the same way.
“And one guy’s” wife comes and Michael and the other students welcome her into the classroom so she can hear the critiques. Even the spouses get welcomed with open arms. Isn’t that awesome? Love that Michael invited her to join us. She has some awesome skulls on her top, so she fits right in.
Michael gives a critique in the nicest possible way and we all learn so much from each others piece. Some of the work is just stunning.
I ask Michael my favourite question – about finding your own signature style and how to step away from your teachers so your work becomes your own. He gives me a fantastic visual answer that satisfies my curiosity. My table mate and I take turns taking photos with Michael and then it’s over. Not just the class but the whole weekend.
We walk away having spent 6 hours in a class that only felt like 6 minutes. Excited with ideas on altering things. Of symbology and mythology. I love that all of Michael’s pieces have a story. One of the things I love most about his 2 art books are the stories. Maybe it’s because I love fairytales? I asked him to tell me the story behind some of his pieces to help me decide which one to buy at the Art Trunk night. I am thinking I need to incorporate this idea of story more in my artwork. I’ve kinda had it in the back of my mind for a little while but this class has made me see how much more connection and meaning there is when it has a story. And the direction it can give you. Think this might become a big part of how I work.
I’m sad the class has ended. Wondering how it all went so quickly. But so, so grateful for the chance to learn from him again. Hoping it’s not another 5 years before I get to do more A-sem-blaaage with the master.