Home, The Artist’s Residency and A Look Back

Home, The Artist’s Residency and A Look Back

I’m back home.

And in the middle of teaching a workshop this week, but thought I’d grab these few free minutes that I have to write a post. First off, if you haven’t seen my other videos and posts about my artist’s residency, it was AMAZING!  Truly beyond anything I had imagined.  Being immersed in art, living with a group of artists for two weeks was just incredible.  I had no distractions other than self imposed deadlines, and the occasional load of laundry, but otherwise I was free to explore, create, learn and be inspired by everything and everyone around me.  It was magical.  And added plus, in a group of 16 artists, there wasn’t a single prima donna!  Not a one.  Everyone was beyond lovely.

I’ve been home now for just over a week and already it’s all beginning to fade into the background.  In many ways it feels as though I was just there, as in yesterday, and in other ways it feels as though it was all a dream and never happened at all or if it did, it was years ago.  Time is strange like that.  Still I have both Paris and Orquevaux on my weather app, so everyday I look to see what the weather is like over there. It’s a tenuous thread that still attaches me to that magical place and time.  One of these days I’ll remove them both, but for now, it’s a bit like listening to an old phone message from my mother.  I know she’s gone, but I can’t bare to delete it.

The piece I created while at the residency is pinned precariously to a large foam board and propped up on a desk until I can put together a more permanent solution for it.  I started referring to it as The Beast until someone suggested I use the french word for beast, which is La Bête, and they’re right it does sound better, a bit less jarring, a little softer.  Still, there’s something about the forcefulness of “The Beast” that I rather like, so I alternate between the two depending on my mood.  My friends in Paris suggested I call it Genesis, particularly since I’m doing a series.  I’ve bookmarked that idea for now.

Once this workshop that I’m teaching is over, I’ll get back to it, but for now, it waits for me patiently.

While at the artist’s residency I interviewed a few of the other artists and then ran out of time and so was only able to interview six of them.  If you’d like to see what some of the other artists were doing while at the residency, you can watch those interviews on my youtube channel.  They are all under the Interviews! playlist.

I also had time to create a number of videos on the process or more accurately my process.  Here are a couple of those videos:

Creativity Mirroring Life

Creativity Mirroring Life

It’s hard to believe that this artist’s residency is coming to a close.  I have just four more days here before returning to Paris.  So I thought I’d do a pictorial recap of my time here so far.  It’s been beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for.  Just amazing.

Gare de l’est

On the train heading toward Orquevaux!

My Studio! I can’t believe it!!

Some of the art work in the Chateau left by other artists in residence

And so it begins… getting the work up on the wall.

but now I have all of this space… I can go much bigger!

The view from my studio

Taking a morning walk with fellow artist in residence, Kevin Ford

Throwing some paint around

Adding stuff

Working and adding

Playing with shapes, getting in the blues…

Lichen always inspires

Taking a walk to clear my head and get some perspective on the challenges I’m seeing in the piece now that I’ve doubled its size.

The sheer beauty and magnitude of this place…

The boat house

The blue alien is now an ever present “issue” that I work hard to resolve…

Deciding that I have to stitch stuff down anyway…

Boldly stitching the blue insect/alien even though I have misgivings… maybe it’ll look better once it’s stitched down.

Nope it doesn’t. Annotating the work, before adding more blue, because if the blue bits are the problem, let’s throw more on there and see what happens.

The blue rabbit hole continues. I’m so deep in it I can’t see my way out.

Still I can appreciate the fabulous art all around me that covers the walls of this amazing place.

Raclette night and the fabulous Beulah van Rensburg: artistic director

The. blue continues to prove problematic.

But I’m determined…

and when all else fails, start another piece…

Fellow artists put on a puppet show for all of us, to great hilarity and fun!

and then I return to my studio to finish my little study inspired by the lichen I’ve seen on my many walks.

And on it goes… the creative process continues.

The big take away from all of this is that the process of creating is often bumpy, but if you don’t give into despair and just meet it head on matter-of-factly, the process is actually very instructive and can be wonderfully fun.  It so mirrors life.  Some of the things I tell myself: Don’t take it personally.  You got this.  It’s a momentary hiccup, what can you learn?  This feels uncomfortable, but it’s okay.  I’ve been here before and gotten through, I’ll get through this too.  Breathe.  Be patient and honor the process.

The ups and downs, the unexpected road blocks, the work arounds, it’s all there, just as in life, but making the decision to find the joy, to be present, even when I’d rather not be, that’s the trick.  Right now I still haven’t resolved some of the issues I have with this piece, but I know I’ll get there eventually.  It’s all part of creating and creating is always wonderful!  Hard, but wonderful!

The Creative Process Step By Step

The Creative Process Step By Step

A documentation of the process… I’ve come to rely upon this documentation as it helps me figure the next step out.  So this is how it began when I arrived and then I realized – Oh!  I can create something SO much bigger!!  Once that idea hit, I took all the other stuff off and began adding fabric.  In fact, I doubled the size of the original piece, which was very, very exciting!!!

Beginning

An idea occurs to me: I can go bigger!

Bigger it is!

Now I have to find a sewing machine so that I can piece it together…

And then I took another photograph once it was all pieced, so that I could put it up on my computer to annotate it.  This step is crucial and one that I’ve come to rely on.  I find it makes all the difference in the world as I can literally draw on top of the photograph, delete, play, try any number of things, play some more, move shapes around, see what I think, before committing to anything.

Where do I go from here? Annotating makes all the difference in the world!

 

Testing the annotated ideas…

Continuing to look, play, try out ideas…

Stepping away.  Zooming back in, stepping away… this is all part of the process.

Adding a bit of blue in the upper left corner.

Now what?
Who knows?!  And that’s all part of the fun of the process.  Adding, moving, playing, trying out other ideas…

It’s time for lunch, and then I will return and play some more, but all in all I’m loving the process and enjoying the movement of this piece.  The trick is to keep going and not allow oneself to get bogged down with doubt!  Continuing is key!!  And loving every moment helps as well.

The Artist’s Residency Begins!

The Artist’s Residency Begins!

I cannot begin to describe how incredibly grateful and fortunate I am to be able to do this 2-week residency in this Chateau in Orquevaux.  It is beyond anything I could have imagined.  I have a studio, a real studio where I can splash paint around and create pieces that are much, much bigger than anything I could have dared imagine back in my workspace in New York City.  It is like being in a dream.  Seriously.  And here’s the thing, I’m practically in tears because I’m just overwhelmed at how lucky I am to be able to do this, to have this opportunity, to have this kind of space, to be able to create without distractions, to be able to make a mess… it really is a dream come true.

My view…

My studio for the next 2 weeks.

This is the piece I brought with me and have begun working on…

And here it is a little bit later…

More will be revealed!

Travel, France, Buttons and so Much More

Travel, France, Buttons and so Much More

First things first…  I know you’re dying to know if I have continued my “workout” routine, which I posted about on Tuesday.  Thanks to all who laughed along with me on that. I put the word workout in quotes because is it really a “workout” when it’s just for 10 minutes?  I’m going to say YES!  And yes, I have.  Every single muscle in my body aches.  How is that even possible after just 10 minutes?  Seriously.  What have I been doing for the last two years?  Oh, right. NOT exercising.  At all. So there’s that.

Next up: France!!  I’m starting to get seriously excited, which is saying a lot because I was already excited before, but now I’m in a kind of twilight zone of over the top excitement.

The Chateau where I will be staying for two weeks.

There’s still lots of things to do, figure out what I’m taking, pack, figure out how I’m going to fit in a couple changes of clothes amongst all my stitching stuff, get some Euros.  I’ve got packages to mail to people who’ve enrolled in various workshops.  By the way, The Improvisational Stitching Workshop only has ONE spot left, so if you’re thinking about enrolling, do, before it’s sold out. And the upcoming Stitch Along has only a couple spots left as well.  That’s the one where we use my improvisational stitching techniques with creating buttons of all kinds and adding them.  I’m just starting to learn how to make Zwirnknopf and Death’s Head buttons to add to the Dorset Buttons and will be teaching both as well!  Who knew buttons could be SO much fun?!

Combining Improvisational Stitching with Button Making!

This is an example of a Zwirnknopf Button.

I haven’t attempted a Death’s Head button, but will be learning how.  All of these various things are things I’ll be bringing with me to France to practice and play with.  And then there’s the big piece which I’ll be layering and painting on.

Did I mention that I’m going to be visiting the Catacombs in Paris?  Now I don’t remember ever hearing about the Catacombs when I was living in London and visiting Paris more frequently, but something popped up about them while I was looking for thread shops that might be still open, and I thought – what?  Catacombs?  I’m all in!  So I promptly booked a tour of them for the second day that I’m there.  Death’s Head buttons, catacombs… I’m noticing a theme here.

And then there’s the Aiguille en Fête which will, miraculously, be going on JUST as I’m there.  Aiguille en Fete basically translates to Needle Party and there will be all kinds of exhibits, demonstrations of thread, fiber art, etc. I am thrilled.  Absolutely thrilled. Beyond thrilled.  Pretty much beside myself with excitement.  AND where ever and whenever possible I’ll be shooting video, recording and posting back to my Patrons, in my FB group and on my Youtube Channel.  I’ll be busy!