Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ABOVE: Vineyard Eve, 16 x22" soft pastel, 2007 (California)
ABOVE: Palouse 1 and Palouse 2, 12x12" soft pastels, 2010 (Eastern Washington)

Art Fear and Loathing
Road Trips and Residencies

I'm thinking its time for another art trip. Of course every trip I take turns into an art trip. I can't help it. I'm cursed that way (hence the landscape paintings) and subconsciously I think make the vacation destinations based on landscapes. I like to see an area slowly and fully so I've done a lot of driving tours. If you're curious about certain parts of the US ask me as I've probably driven thru it. I don't seem to arrange trips to tropical beaches very often though. Maybe its because deep down inside that sort of place doesn't move me very much (though nothing beats a good Margarita on the beach—sometimes artists need that too). It's healthy to let a new environment effect your work whether you are a landscape artist, sculpturist or a minimalist. New places and new people change how we see and feel. They renew us. Whether that means immersing yourself into a completely different culture or in one that's just a slight tilt to the one you already live in.

A friend just sent me a website of an artist residency in Greece where he is currently on vacation. Sounds just divine. I've had my eye on a couple overseas residencies for awhile now. Hopefully this will happen for me someday. The timing isn't quite right for me now—fiscally speaking that is—something about being an artist in a recession. Go figure. But that doesn't stop me from thinking about it. Through all my day dreaming I've learned a few things about these residencies.
Some pay a full ride (room/studio, board and sometimes even travel) and some allow you to stay for a reduced amount. A lot of residencies out of our country seem to ask for some funds up front for board costs. There are grants artists can apply for from organizations here in our country to help assist with those costs (See Artist Trust link at bottom of this article). Most of the reputable US residencies I've researched pay room and board for their artists. Some offer art supply stipends on top of that too. Residencies also have time constraints. Some will require a large commitment of time (6 months-2-years) and others will only let you stay a minimal amount of time (under a month). Besides finding a residency in a place you wish to go, knowing the residency's time constraints, what it offers (studio space, art equipment, room types, food) and how much it will cost you to be there (don't forget your travel) will help narrow your decision down. Realize though that getting a good residency is much like getting into a good gallery. Thousands of people apply each year and only a handful get to go. Don't be discouraged if denied. Try again the next year. Having a residency on your resume is good but more importantly a residency allows an artist the time and space to create without limitations and the potential to learn and bounce ideas off other artists.

I have a great studio and certain days in my week are dedicated to working in it but life is full of interruptions ranging from the phone ringing, dogs wanting me to throw the ball or the Fed Ex guy showing up. Sooner or later my husband comes home from work and my energy is lost for the rest of the day. Don't get me wrong. I love my life but its work sometimes to make the space to work if you know what I mean.

No worries if you can't commit to or get a residency. You can still renew your art with simple road trips. When Chris, my husband, and I were building our house a couple years ago I was also under the deadline for an upcoming solo show in Seattle. I had begun a large portion of the work on a road/fishing trip to Yakima. I also wanted to drink wine. (When in Rome...) None the less the show was titled "Driving Thru Vineyards". Just as I started the work of Eastern Washington we started building the house. Building a house is stressful but especially so when you are doing it yourself. On top of that we had been living in a cabin on our property for the last couple years—off the grid and hauling in water. This tight space not only functioned as my home but my studio. Somehow in the past I had been able to produce several shows out of it. Then my husband took a leave of his job to build the house. He and other people were constantly in and out of our cabin and on our property. It was just too much. I knew there was no way I was going to get enough work done for the show. Not to mention during this time I was also working on the house and at my full time job too. Completely freaked out and with Chris' encouragement I hit the road. First I found a absurdly cheap weekly rental in Marin County (CA) where I made my own residency so to speak. It was awesome. Nobody bugging me for an entire week. I produced and began an amazing amount of work with new vigor. A couple months later I drove myself down to the Willamette Valley and stayed a couple nights and painted that scenery too. Between the three trips (Yakima, Marin and Willamette) my work gathered a cohesive-vibrant feeling that I don't think I could of achieved if I had been locked up in our one room cabin with constant interruptions.

Last Fall I took another 3-day trip to the Palouse (Eastern WA) with my artist friend Kathleen Faulkner. We both came home with enough inspiration to each create full bodies of work and not to mention it was a lot of fun traveling with another art buddy—(Art) Fear and Loathing. So if you need inspiration—just go. Get out! Even if its just a day trip.

Related Links:

Resartis—International Residencies Artist Communities—US and International Residencies Artist Trust
(Information on Grants also see Resources and Opportunities for Residencies)