Visual Art

Week 3: Master Class with Isaac Layman, or A Little Dab(ble) Won’t Do

Class instructed to double down.

By Adriana Grant January 27, 2012

Isaac Layman chills on the front stoop of my building after our first in-person 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

“I know a number of you have felt unable to put in the 20 hours a week,” Isaac started his email to the students of his month-long master class. His critically acclaimed solo exhibit at the Frye just closed, but he’s plenty busy teaching 11 artists (including myself) to rededicate themselves to their art practice.

“I understand it seems difficult and that it takes time away from other activities,” his email continues, “but it’s entirely doable and necessary if you wish to become critically involved with your art. Dabbling won’t get you where you want to go. Make your art a priority. […] When you do that your art will get better.”

Isaac’s right. Last week I put in 7.5 hours writing poetry—my chosen art practice—and this week, I’ve already made up that time in five days. It’s not easy, but I’m doing what I feel I ought to do, and that creates its own feel-good feedback loop. I’m creating more poetry, better poetry, and it’s easier to return to work with smaller gaps between writing sessions.

Ironically, as Isaac admonishes his students to commit more time to their artwork, he’s doing the opposite. Isaac’s teaching role has thrust him out of his studio and into those of his students. He’s had two one-hour studio visits with each of 11 students. This social labor reminds Isaac to seek more balance in his own life, between his artwork, family, and friends.

As for balance in my own life, I’m putting that aside, as I promised to get closer to the 20-hours-a-week studio requirement, and have a chapbook ready to present for the last class, tomorrow. I have many more hours to go to make that goal, and to be proud of what I’ll show for my month of labor. I might just have to pull the all-nighter Isaac suggested last week.

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