The Vermont Studio Center is a magical kingdom for artists. I have just returned from filling my inspiration cup to the brim and am now overflowing with gratitude for the time and space spent in this unique artist-in-residency program.
The main building where we eat and gather is in an old red mill
A short walk over a bridge and through the town of Johnson brought me to my studio building, The Barbara White building. My studio, like all the studios was big and bright and inviting. I had the bonus of two windows that looked out over the Gihon River.
Over 60 artists and writers from all over the world are selected every month to come and share in this marvellous experience. There is a nice blend of socializing and privacy that is very conducive to deepening and broadening your practice as an artist. At every delicious meal (and the food is very good) you sit beside a different artist/writer and have the best conversations about life and art. A multi-generational populace is another interesting blend to the melange of people. So much diversity of ideas, thoughts and visuals leads to a stimulating and lively environment.
It didn't take long for me to start painting! All that white space was so inviting. The first thing I painted, which was a bit of a surprise to me, was a large painting of Walt's kiss. It was based on a photo taken by my close friend, Connie who also left this planet three months after Walt. I allowed myself to paint all my love and sadness into that piece and continued to have it hang in the space for the duration of my stay. Both Walt and Connie would have loved the Vermont Studio Center.
This was a space for playing and exploring and trying new ideas. I worked with some of Walt's materials, spray paints, oil sticks, etc. None of these works made much sense but it was such a release to be able to just play with the materials. I stapled some large canvases directly to the wall. I have never tried painting like this and the lack of bounce from the taut and unstretched canvas opened new avenues for mark making with palette knives. I actually love the unfinished edges with the raw canvas and am considering hanging these as are, without stretching them.
There were guest artists and writers who would come and speak about their work. We could choose to have the visiting artists come and discuss our work with us if we wanted to. The artists in residency were also very generous about sharing their work with the group in a short evening "slide presentation" once or twice a week. The writers would read selections of their work to us. A bombardment of inspiration from all directions.
|Vermont Studio Center Residents - November 2016|
Two of the visiting printmakers encouraged and guided me in the making of my first dry point prints. A whole new experience for me and one I enjoyed and hope to continue exploring more in the future.
I intentionally selected the month of November for my residency as I knew I would be less distracted by the outside world which always beckons me to explore, especially in a brand new area like this. The weather was cold and rainy a lot of the time so staying in the studio and working was often the best choice to be made. However there were some spectacular trails nearby and in spite of it being hunting season I did manage to explore some of the enchanting Vermont landscape.
Another day Soren, a young artist from Brooklyn and I went and found this beautiful waterfall tumbling down a hillside.
One day after lunch, Heather from Maine and I went off to explore a small portion of the Vermont Long Trail which brought us to an entanglement of roots and rocks.
There is so much more to tell. I will leave out the election of Trump which cast a dark shadow throughout the community for the duration. However, I can think of no place I would have rather been than amongst this loving community of thoughtful artists and writers.
A group of eight of us drove up into the hills to sit on a rock and watch the super full moon rise like liquid amber over the horizon and into our hearts. One of the women was a pregnant printmaker from Cleveland and her and her baby's presence made the moment even more special.
I began the month with an empty studio and canvas, not knowing a single soul. I left with a studio full of new work, and my heart full to bursting with all the new friendships that have inspired me to become more fully the person I was born to be. I left with much hope instilled by this loving community of artists who will continue to shine their light for others to follow through a dark and treacherous time for our planet.
I will mention that after the election I turned to working on a series of smaller works. My energy level dropped as I became more reflective and I felt the need to make small intimate paintings with a quiet, neutral palette. Memories of my September morning excursion to Pink Pond in the Adirondacks was the inspiration for this gentle series that literally and metaphorically emerged from the fog.