Last August I was blessed to attend Golden Apple Art Residency on the coast of Maine. This provided two weeks of focused and uninterrupted time to work—to research, take reference photos, to go inward, create, and at the end of the day to interact with other artists. We were treated like royalty and lively evening conversations were gently guided toward issues and questions that might help us understand each other and ourselves as artists.
I had no specific agenda going in, so packed every 2-d medium I have. The physical environment with walking paths and lobster boat sounds, the tide and the piney paths, and the long blocks of time, expanded the mental space I (as all artists) need to let concepts work their way to the surface. Just walking from the cottage to the studio set the day off right. Days were spent in the studio, nights looking up artists and history, researching, reading, or writing haiku poetry and in my journal.
There were a few ideas that needed to get out of my head before I could settle in on something new. One about the experience/process of losing a dear friend. Another was the only piece of what I had thought might be a series. It felt much too tight and I didn’t want to paint like that during the residency…or at all.
Some pieces went nowhere and were just stepping stones toward I didn’t yet know what. As I started to relax and loosen up I started to remember the joy of painting. On a parallel with writing haiku at night, the paintings became more and more succinct, removing anything that didn’t belong beyond what it would take to tell the story, like this…
A few pieces came from the woods and the wonderful knotted branches and roots. This “Gnarly” series, that is still in progress and will mostly be in clay, speaks of what it’s like to be getting older and the gradual acceptance of change and decay. If I can see beauty in the branches, perhaps I can find it in my aging self.
Old growth, twisted
battered, scarred, wind worn, and burled
Gnarly, as are we
I highly recommend this residency. It has all the elements of a great experience. Having caught Covid on the way there, I presented a roadblock the director Shelley Stevens and her husband Greg had so carefully worked to avoid. They rose to even that challenge, keeping us all safe and still pampered and allowing the important work to continue. They were gracious from start to finish. and I regret the limitations the illness put on all of us.
Two of the other resident artists in our session, Valerie Allen and Armin Mersmann, produce a fun podcast about art called Art Ladders: The Creative Climb. They recently spoke with those of us who were at Golden Apple with them about our experience there. It was great fun to be in touch with them again and continue our conversations. Ours is episode 40 and you can listen HERE. I hope you will find it and other episodes interesting. If you are interested in applying to Golden Apple I would be happy to discuss it with you. Just pop me an email.