isaac layman

Snow drives us online for our second studio visit.

Editor’s note: For this new four-week series, Culture Fiend’s art writer Adriana Grant has enrolled in a master class with Seattle photographer Isaac Layman at the Frye. This is her story.—LD

It’s week two of Isaac Layman’s master class at the Frye and I’m already behind. I’m not the only one. My classmates have also been unable to commit to the 20-hour weeks of studio time Isaac assigned.

"It’s frustrating for a teacher,” he said during our studio visit, via Skype because of the bad weather. "I am taking your art that seriously, and it’s hard to see the students not, or think they can’t."

I have been seeing friends and watching movies—things Isaac suggested we give up for our art, just this month. But I have been spending more time writing (my chosen practice) these weeks than ever before. I’ve averaged 45 minutes a day, far short of the three-hours-a-day goal. I did take a self-styled writing retreat—my first ever—at a friend’s mom’s cabin on the Tulalip Reservation, and spent two full days writing prose poetry. I’d create a collage of lines overheard during conversations, things my friends said, or phrases from newspapers or online. My Word doc is a catch-all of notes, quotes, and half-finished pieces; I’ll edit poems in progress, or revise an old piece. I read over finished work to remind me of where I want to go.

"Give me call the moment you feel you’ve exhausted yourself," Isaac said. "That’s what I’m talking about. I want you to be exhausted. And it hurts a little it and it makes you sore. That’s the most useful thing I can tell you, and people tell me they can’t do it. I think they quit too fast."

Isaac suggested I pull an all-nighter.