Day 5: My Truro Art Residency (Friday)

The continuing adventures of Rachel Brask during her two week art residency in Truro, Massachusetts. In today’s episode, her painting process is positively productive, and possibly prolific, preceding her Provincetown paths…

At this point in my art residency, I realize that I am about halfway through the residency, after figuring out that our two week residency isn’t exactly two weeks — we arrived on Monday, and we’ll be departing the second Friday — giving us more like 10-12 days (depending on how you count the afternoon arrival and the morning departure. My goal is to complete 12 paintings, thinking that I originally had 14 days. Now I’ll have to double up on at least 1-2 days in order to accomplish this goal. I chose the goal of working on 12 canvases mainly because that’s all my portable drying rack could do.

IMG_6552.jpgOn the morning of Day 5, after some oatmeal, tea & reading, I continued to work on the winter scene, smoothing and feathering some of the original paint drips after seeing how far they had moved overnight. Thankfully, the drips didn’t move too far.

I was ready tobegin work on a fourth canvas while the other three finished their drippings & dryings, but I only had three easels. So, very carefully, I moved the first painting (of the beach path) and its drip-gutter, to hang on a nail in the wall, with the drip-gutter resting on a shallow ledge just below the painting. I had placed small, round pushpins on the back four corners of the canvas so that the actual wet edges of the paint would not come in direct contact with the wall. I prepared my fourth canvas, a small 12×18 inches, and got to work. IMG_6623.jpg

After making my first three paintings inspired directly from beach, marsh, or woodland landscapes, I wanted to return to a concept I had tried in my own studio a few weeks earlier. I wanted to try painting another rendition inspired by the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. I spent a little time researching reference images, and then set up my area to work. I applied a bit of bright pinks, magenta, orange, yellow, lime-green and various hues of aqua, turquoise, dark blue and purple. I used a small brush to apply the finite details, including a plan for colored to be reflected in white snow.

After I applied the paint daubs, I smeared the paint using stand oil and my brush, from top to bottom, right to left. After I had finished that, my fellow other artists in residence and I had planned to go into Provincetown to visit the art supply store, hardware store, and get some food, and to see the sunset at Herring Cove. We went to the Artist Loft art supply store first, an interesting shop located on the second floor of what feels to be a an apartment or condo building. Of course, as soon as we were at the shop, I forgot what I needed to get anyhow. I’m sure it will come back to me later. The hardware store ended up closing at 5pm, so we had just missed it by about half an hour. By then, it was around 6:15pm, and we wanted to see the full sunset over the water, so we pulled into Herring Cove, where many other cars were also parked to watch the sunset.

I brought my digital SLR camera along with my iPhone to snap some photos. The sunset started out slow and bright, and gradually the sun dropped to the horizon, and then beyond the horizon, leaving the sky lit with beautiful reflections of pink, coral, salmon, periwinkle and blue. I got out of the car a limited number of times to take better composed photos, but each time I did, the wind almost blew me and my camera away. I had to shield myself from the wind by bracing myself agains the hood of my car. As I took photos, the wind was blowing so fast and hard that the sand was flying much like snow would, horizontally, and right into my face, eyes, and mouth. My skin felt like it got some excellent exfoliation from the whole process. It felt dangerous, but it was totally worth it for the photos we got.

After the sun went down, we went to the supermarket to get groceries, and then we headed back home. We didn’t realize how quickly it had gotten so late, and we were all hungry from not getting dinner while we were out. Kara and I made some macaroni with vodka sauce, a derivative tomato sauce, and chatted most of the night away about music and many things, including watching a few classic music videos on YouTube. I excused myself pretty late to be able to break away from the fun to return to check in, and work on, the dripping aurora borealis still on the easel from earlier that afternoon.

The dark spots from the upper part of the canvas had descended considerably to the bottom, leaving some dark, grayish streaks in the painting, covering up some of the brighter yellows, oranges, pinks and greens. So I went in with my small fan brush and removed a good amount of dripped paint, editing out some portions of the dripped canvas. After working on it, I was pleased with how it turned out, but I still had to hold my breath to see how it would turn out in the morning after free dripping all night.