Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Artist in Residence, Glen Arbor, MI

Well, that was an amazing ride. Artist's Residencies come in all shapes and sizes (there is one offered on a cargo ship!) and mine was outstanding. Thank you, Glen Arbor Arts Center, for providing me with a large, rustic studio in an historic barn and an adorable one-bedroom apartment, right in the middle of town. Thank you, also, for requiring nothing more than that I work at my craft undisturbed and that I talk about it at the end of that time. It was awesome to be responsible only to myself!

Driving there, I had to tamp down my crazy-painting-energy. The clouds created a dramatic arch for me to go through, and, indeed, I had entered a land of striking skies and sweeping vistas. I was anxious to paint. I felt an inherent urgency to record the undistilled beauty, to connect to it on a visceral level. I had to remind myself repeatedly that I had all the time in the world or, at least, two full weeks. I moved into my apartment over the Arts Center and looked about. Around the corner was an art gallery, a bookstore, Art's Tavern and a coffee shop, the grocery just a two-block walk away. Glen Arbor is a blink of the eye on your way up M22; the beauty of the area is unparalleled.

Sleeping Bear Bay, 9x12, soft pastel

I remained calm by working as hard as I could. Originally, I laid out artistic goals for myself (and to the GAAC, on my application) that turned out to be much grander than I could accomplish in two weeks. Instead of composing blogs to trumpet out my thoughts on saving our environment through art, I tuned in to what felt important to me - being outside, painting directly from nature.

Moon Rising, 6x6, watercolor

I worked in pastel and watercolor, depending on the weather and my mood. I spent two rainy days oil painting in the barn from my pastels. Here I obtained my first take-away: my pastels have enough information from which to create oil paintings. This will be super nice in the winter when I don't want to face the elements outside.

On my last full art day, the temperature dropped to the low 50s and the wind shook the maples out my window. I bundled up and headed to a beach where I could hunker down behind tall grasses, my back against a root-filled dune. I sat and contemplated the rolling clouds and pounding waves. This is why I paint! To allow the power of the landscape to rush through me, sweeping away boundaries and borders. To let go of myself as a separate entity, to feel that perfect fusion with Mother Nature.

Port Oneida Beach, 9x12 pastel

It may take months to unpack all that I have gained from this experience, but here's a start. Perhaps the biggest gift of the residency was unfettered time. Following is a list of the ways in which I will make my art-time at home more like my art-time in Glen Arbor:
  • Adjust my schedule so that art-making occurs when my energy is highest, first thing in the morning.
  • Grant myself plenty of time for observation and reflection, both while making art and while out in the world. 
  • Stay present. Remind my mind that it can think other times but not when I'm painting.
  • Don't waste energy on things that are unimportant.
  • Work outside, en plein air, for true inspiration. Fill my soul with the power of nature from the real thing.
This experience was invaluable, in large part because it provided me the vehicle with which to look deeper within myself/my practice in order to come out stronger and with greater purpose. I am beyond thankful that the opportunity was granted me and I do hope to make the world a better place with my art... just not sure what that will look like yet.

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