Truro Art Residency: Day 3 (Wed)

This morning I woke up slowly, laid in bed for a little looking at the ceiling, out the window, anywhere else besides putting my feet to the floor. It was nice to sleep in, as I needed it, but I had a headache as I woke up. I got going around 9:30/10am, made my breakfast and tea while I touched up yesterday’s blog post and published it.

I went up to my studio and worked on wiring up a painting and configuring how it would stay up on the easel, as this easel rocked a little bit when moved or pressure applied to the front of the canvas. With the process I use to apply thousands of tiny dots of thick paint, I’m usually pretty much drumming on the canvas like a snare drum, at times, so I need the canvas to hold.

By the time I had most of that sorted out it was around noon, when all the artists in residence had been invited to Truro Center for the Arts main campus at Castle Hill for wood-fired brick oven pizza. It sounded too good to pass up. After arriving to the Castle Hill complex, I first went to the wrong building before I found the pizza. I bumped into a couple other people that didn’t know there was brick oven pizza on, so they gladly joined in. The brick oven was located over by the ceramic kilns, and I just followed the smell of fresh pizza.

The ceramics instructor, Bryan, and a woman with medium-length salt-and-pepper hair were working on kneading and tossing the pizza dough, applying sauce, spices and toppings, and using a wooden peel to put the pizzas in and out of the oven. It seemed like every 5 minutes they had a new differently styled pizza available for the small crowd of artists and potters, with slices small enough to not feel guilty if you wanted to try just a little bit from each flavor. The crust on each was just slightly charred and crispy, with a soft and flaky inside. I also learned that apparently the brick oven here was made by hand on campus and a book written about how to build your own brick oven was written and used the process of building this one to add photos and step by step instructions.

While we were enjoying our pizza party, I noticed the time and that my encaustic class would be starting shortly. As part of my residency, the encaustics instructor, Cherie, is permitting me to take the last two Wednesday afternoon classes of a three week series, so I only missed the first class. Cherie said that she could get me caught up separately. This class was the whole reason that I had to go to Michael’s yesterday to get supplies for class, resulting in my involvement in helping a baby squirrel (who I nicknamed Spidey). Last spring I had signed up for an encaustics class with Cherie but it was cancelled because of weather or lack of registration, so I’m glad to have the opportunity now to learn how to paint with wax with Cherie.

Other people from the class began arriving and we got started. I was a little behind because I didn’t have a complete set of what tools we needed for this class, so people were very generous in letting me borrow some of their tools: pencils, scissors, wax, brush, etc. In the few encaustics weekend workshops that I’ve taken, I always enjoy working with the wax, while being simultaneously frustrated that there are some things I can’t do with it because it’s not oil paint, and I’m more familiar with oil paint. Today’s focus was on using photo prints and transfers to create images and lines in the layers of beeswax.

I didn’t have an original photo that I brought with me to use as my photo transfer, so Cherie suggested that I could use the printer there to just print one from my phone. One of the most recent series of interesting photos that I could use were of the baby squirrel from yesterday. So I went with printing a photo of Spidey and using his image in my encaustic project. The end result I called “Distressed Squirrel” recalling in color and texture the plight of the baby squirrel.

When class ended around 4pm I drove back to my studio and made a light snack and a late afternoon tea in my Create mug, which I now had back in my possession to use in the studio to create, thanks to my husband bringing the backpack that contained such a gem. I constructed a new rain gutter system for the canvas that I had earlier wired today. Because my paintings are so drippy and messy, each painting ends up with a considerable amalgam of paint and oil that would otherwise be dripping to the floor if I didn’t construct a “gutter” system using folds and cuts of the cardboard strip that usually accompanies this brand of canvas, up to a certain size. At my last residency, my usual foolproof method of catching drips wasn’t up to the task, and I ended up with puddles at the left and right end of each of the gutters. So this time, I’m creating a Triple Gutter Guard (TM pending) to create a backup gutter system for the primary gutter system.

Once the triple gutter system was in place, and the canvas was mounted securely to the easel (using clamps and Jenga blocks), I was ready to paint. I wasn’t entirely sure which direction I was going to go in with this first painting of this residency, so I opted for picking a color to tone the canvas, and then hoped the rest would come to me. I wasn’t using a specific reference image or photograph for this painting; it would have to come out of my brain for this one, to help warm up for other paintings I’ll start in the next 2 weeks. Meanwhile there was also an incredible red orb sunset going on outside one of the windows of the studio, so I had to capture it.

I took a brief dinner break to reheat the goat cheese gnocchi from dinner out my first night here. I poured a glass of red wine, looked at my canvas, and an idea emerged of what I was going to paint. I took my paintbrush and mixed a series of reds, oranges, yellows, golds, with lighter and darker versions of each. I used light yellow to outline what looked like hills or mountains in the distance, with a slight light that would be the division between these fall foliaged mountains and their reflection in a lake, with a slightly pastel pink to yellow sunset in the sky above, with the sun having just barely dropped below the mountain line. At some point during my painting, I got a phone call from a Barnstable number that I didn’t recognize, but I thought it might just be one of the animal rescue agencies calling back from yesterday. It turned out to be a reporter with the Provincetown Banner, a local newspaper that wanted to run a story on the art residency here in Truro. I answered a series of thoughtful questions about my artwork and my experience at Edgewood Farm.

Then I finally got to a point of all these crimson, tangerine, and golden hues were finally each where they needed to be in order for me to start the “rain technique” of applying stand oil and pressure with a brush. I had debated whether I should just wait until morning to do this, but while it was already 11pm at this point, if I could just pushed another hour to get the rain effect applied, then I could sleep a happy camper. So that’s what I did. And true to form, I am happy that I started the rain effect overnight. I did have to just quickly swipe a vertical brush down from top to bottom of some of the drips before leaving it, but I look forward to seeing what this first painting looks like in the morning after dripping overnight.