North Carolina Art Residency: Day 12 (Fri) Last Days, Last Post

Today was Friday, my last day here at the residency. I made assorted filled pancakes for Tammy, my husband, and me for breakfast around 8:30am. Earlier in the week, I had joked with Tammy about my high standards for pancakes, based on my family traditions growing up making pancakes almost every other Saturday. While the apartment was fully appointed with pans and pots and mixing bowls, we had limited ingredients to use, so I had to compromise by starting with bisquick mix, but then adding yogurt and some other ingredients to improve the flavor and texture. I also cut up bananas and shredded a couple of apples, in order to offer plan, banana, banana-chocolate-chip, and apple cinnamon silver dollar-sized pancakes. Tammy’s dogs, Scout and Jasper, we’re sure to lay down right under the table to catch any scraps that might fall to the floor. This was our last morning with the dogs around since we’d be traveling home, so I didn’t mind.
While I had planned to head to the studio first thing in the morning after making pancakes, to work on the paintings one last day, we delayed in order to get our packing and cleaning of the apartment in line. I also received a few last-minute emails from my accountant regarding my 2018 taxes, so I was on the phone and email with their office for a couple hours in the morning figuring out some things in my tax filing that needed to be taken care of today, since taxes are due this Monday, and we’ll be traveling on the weekend. I got the majority of my clothes and toiletries packed, saving a few outfits for the morning when we leave early tomorrow morning.

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I didn’t have any photos of my making the pancakes because I had to cook so much so quickly that there just wasn’t any time

By the time all of that was completed it was around 1 or 1:30pm so my husband and I just used the apartment’s microwave to heat up leftovers from restaurant meals out the last couple days. I got to the on-campus coffee shop next to the studios just a few minutes before they closed for the afternoon in time to get a cinnamon blended ice half-car coffee drink. When I got to the studio, I was happy to see that the overnight drips on the last paintings aren’t as bad as I thought that they would be — actually they fell into quite a nice looking pattern. I used my tiny fan brush to adjust and blend the drips, helping some drips along and deleting some others. Then I checked out the third painting to find that there wasn’t much that needed to be done to that one.


Pete hung around the studio, shooting some more action shots of me painting and helping with a few menial art tasks. Around 2:30 I decided to change gears and wrap up the majority of painting tasks, and shift instead to cleaning and packing away my art supplies and equipment for the trip home. First I put my tubes of oil paint away in the bag that I had packed them in, then I cleaned the brushes as best I could using the Gamsol thinner I had thought, but I didn’t have a sink right in this studio to finish up the washing, so I’ll take care of that at home. My husband acted as artist assistant with some of the other cleaning and packing tasks, such as drying the paintbrushes before packing them together, wrapping fragile painting containers, etc.


Once we got to a point where 98% of the necessary bags, suitcases, easels, and canvases were ready for the road. Before loading the car, we took a break for we three to go get a drink at the Silo Bar, a cool old hay silo that had been converted into a 360 view bar with a variety of signature cocktails, bar seating, picnic tables and even hammocks. We took a couple unoccupied seats and I asked the bartender to surprise me with which selection of fruity beverages she had recommended were specials unique to the SIlo Bar. From the silo bar, we had a pretty great view of the sunset in action, along with a few of a few horse practicing and training arenas.


After we finished up there, Tammy and I returned to the studio to try doing a few test prints of one of my paintings using her large format printer. While we troubleshooter some Photoshop and Mac issues of my old MacBook Pro, and then resumed printing with hers. My husband brought our SUV around to the studio to load. We packed in the wet paintings first that I had completed, using our new custom made painting transport rack, then we loaded in the other art supplies, only leaving one small fanbrush, small canister of Gamsol and paper towel roll to touch up the pink-purple painting after dinner.

After troubleshooting the print and loading up all of the important art materials, we went to dinner at Campagna, the Italian restaurant, because Tammy hadn’t been there yet after being a vendor tenant for over a year. I think both Tammy and my husband shared my thoughts of being glad that we chose to go there, because the food was excellent, and because we were the only ones in the restaurant at the time, we got distinguished and attentive and personable service. We split a bruschetta in addition to the delectable rosemary garlic bread and tomato jam that they provide complimentarily. I got the thin crust pizza special, my husband got cavatappi, and Tammy to salmon. After for dessert we had the light but sweet house-made gelato, which was also delicious. The waitress brought over a whole extra to-go box of the delicious Rosemary bread and a small container of tomato jam to go, awesome!

 

Addendum: Days 13-14 (Sat-Sun): Road Trip Home

While my husband and I had planned to leave to get on the road home by 7am, in all reality between last-minute packing and having a difficult time getting up, we didn’t leave until 8:30am. We plotted our trip to a hotel in Pennsylvania for the first leg, a 9 hour drive, and then we planned to do the last 6-hour leg of the trip home to RI from PA.

We said goodbye to Tammy and her adorable dogs, Scout and Jasper. I will miss them when I’m gone, they were so cute. And getting to spend time with and get to know Tammy a little better the last two weeks has also been really great.

It was a pretty smooth drive, with a couple pits stops, including Hardees for one last biscuit. Just before we got to our hotel, we detoured to go through the Gettysburg National Park, and to use the info center to use the restrooms. When we arrived, there was some sort of gala or fundraiser event going on and they almost didn’t let us use the restrooms. When we said we were all the way from RI, they let us use them.

On our way back out to the car, in the parking lot I saw a man in a tall black top hat getting out of the car. As I looked closer, I realized that it was a costumed interpreter (reenactor) of Abraham Lincoln. We got out of the car and asked Mr. President if he would snap a photograph with us. He gladly obliged and his wife offered to take the photo. That was the highlight of our road trip home! It was abe-solutely amazing!

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Sunday morning we got an early start and arrived home around late afternoon. We ran a few local errands first, getting food for the house, some more supplies for my next residency, and then we got ice cream just because. Tomorrow morning I’ll be heading out to another 2 week art residency, this time again in Truro, MA, but for now I was glad to be home for the next 18 hours and at least sleep in my own bed for one night.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 11 (Thur)

I slept in just a little bit until 8:30pm because I stayed up so late last night with the productivity push. I went directly to the studio this morning to check on last night’s painting drip since initiating the “rain” effect to the green-blue paintings. I appeared that recording the time-lapse video of the drips was still in action when I arrived, which is good. I had worried that the video would stop in the middle of the night due to lack of data storage.

 

I picked up my little fan brush and went to work on adjusting and responding to the night’s drips of the painting. Fortunately, I was pretty pleased with the overall result of the drips. It took me the majority of the morning to finish up the first phase of touching up the drips since the painting was still so actively dripping.
For lunch I walked to the general store on campus and got a chicken salad sandwich from the Pony Express deli there. The sandwich was very good. Then I returned to my studio and began the process of touching up the side edges of the previous two paintings, mixing the simple palette of blues needed for the edges of the blue mountain triptych.


After touching up the edges of the blue painting, I realized that I just might have enough time to start a smaller painting in the rest of this afternoon and evening. Tomorrow (Friday) is my last full day here at this art residency before we start our road trip back to Rhode Island early on Saturday morning, so I’ll have to use tomorrow for packing and cleaning. Feeling ambitious to do this last push to achieve my modified goal of working on 4 paintings, I started a new 20 x 20 inch canvas on the big easel. I took my paintbrush and toned the whole canvas a very light lilac color, and then I outlined an area of composition in green that I envisioned would be a collection of different pink, purple, and white flowering spring bushes and trees.


Now that I had a new canvas started, I had to make sure that I finished it! I used the rest of the afternoon and early evening to fill in as many of the purple, pink, white and green paint dots and daubs that I could. At one point in the afternoon, I took break from my frantic painting pace and took a break to go to the coffee bar in the general store. I asked the staff if they could make an affogato, a scoop or two of ice cream with a shot or two of hot espresso poured over the ice cream, kind of like an ice cream float. “Affogato” literally means “drowned” in the Italian language, as the cold ice cream is drowned by the hot espresso The combination of cold and hot coffee tastes pretty good. They gladly obliged me in making this caffeinated concoction, even though it’s on the main menu.


With my delectable affogato in hand, I returned to the studio to continue vigorous painting work on the fourth and final painting that I’d get to work on during my stay at this art residency. I put more dots and daubs on the painting, and then intermittently went back to the green-blue painting from last night to touch up some of the drips that had travelled down the canvas since I last touched it up this morning. Around 4:30pm Tammy and I drove to Forest City to return my rental car to the rental agency, then she gave me a ride back to the studio.


Eventually afternoon turned to dusk turned to sunset turned to night and the moon started to peak out from the clouds. I had remembered that Thursday nights were the pasta bar special at Campagna, the Italian restaurant on campus, so I wrapped up the latest phase of painting in order to go to dinner. I knew that my husband would be arriving on campus sometime later tonight after having dinner with friends about an hour away, which would conclude his individual epic road trip. When I walked in the chef and waitstaff remembered me from last week’s pasta bar while friendly as ever. After my server brought over the amazing Rosemary bread and sweet tomato jam, the server operating the actual pasta bar told me she put in a special order of pesto just for me, since we had talked about my love for pesto last week, which I thought was really thoughtful. The regular sauces offered at tonight’s pasta bar were a white alfredo sauce and a red marinara sauce. When I saw the line went down, I went up and the chef glad made my special plate of pasta and veggies. Sitting down in the outdoor patio area, I enjoyed my dinner.  I had to ask for a to-go box for half of the pasta so I can save some to reheat for dinner tomorrow. The waitress reminded me that dessert came automatically with the pasta bar, so I enjoyed trying their version of tiramisu.


At the end of dinner when the server brought me the check, I reached for the credit card that I’ve been using to track expenses from this trip, and it wasn’t there. Fortunately I still had one of my debit cards on me, so I wasn’t stuck without a method of paying the fine staff of this establishment. I went back to the studio and dumped out my purse, wondering if this credit card might’ve been lost somewhere within the pockets and massive contents of the purse. But it wasn’t there. I retraced the places of my day to try to remember the last place I used my credit card. I had driven my rental car to return it, and before that I had used it at the gas pump at Ingles grocery store to fill up the tank before I returned it to Enterprise. I texted Tammy to ask her if maybe the card had slipped out of my shorts pocket and onto the floor of her truck or between the seats. She checked her truck, but she didn’t find anything.

just a few photos of the adorable Scout & Jasper dogs to lighten up these paragraphs

Since I had already returned my car, I thought maybe the card might’ve slipped out of my pocket between the seats of the rental car, but by this time it was already long past the time that the rental car agency was still open. I planned to call them first thing in the morning to ask them if they would have found anything. Then, on a last whim, I found them number for Ingles and called them to ask if the gas attendant or anyone might have found my credit card, giving a description and and everything. The customer service lady called the gas attendant and it turned out that they found it and were holding it in a safe location until it could be claimed and retrieved. I quickly called my husband and asked him to pick up the credit card at that Ingles on his drive to Tryon tonight. He agreed to do it, and he called me later letting me know that he had successfully retrieved the lost credit card.

I like the way the late afternoon sun shines on the painting here

I continued to paint the smaller painting, adding more and more layers of spring-colored paint daubs and dashes. My husband arrived to the studio around 10:30pm, and he kept me company in the studio while I worked on finishing the painting. It was great to see hi again in person, since we had each be doing our separate travel thing for just about 2 weeks. Ever thinking as my art studio social media manager, he recorded videos and photos of me working in the studio that I could post to my Rachel BRask Artworks Instagram page.

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The clouds were intense today, made it look like it would rain any minute

In a couple hours, I finished applying all the dots, and then debated with whether to apply the rainy drip technique tonight and going to sleep a little later, or apply it in the morning. After conferring with him, we both agreed it’s better to just “rain” it tonight so that it’ll have the time overnight to start its dripping, so that it has hopefully mostly dripped before we have to pack away my painting supplies tomorrow afternoon. After a short bit used a thick bristle brush and Stand oil to smear the paint daubs vertically from top to bottom, running the pinks, purples, whites and blues together.

Once we finished that, I hung up my paint apron and we went back to the house for the night, anticipating that tomorrow would be our last day here, spent mostly packing. I’d still make the time in the morning to check on and touch up the drips on this last painting, though. By the time I got to sleep it was around 1am.

 North Carolina Art Residency: Days 9-10 (Tue-Wed)

Tuesday, Day 9

There’s not much to share about Day 9, because I wasn’t feeling well all day, so I didn’t make it to the studio. While this felt like a setback, because I couldn’t start a new painting today, I chose think of it as my “reset day,” because I really needed to rest and drink fluids to hopefully feel better by the next day, as we draw nearer to the end of my residency here. I napped on and off throughout the day, worked on my websites a bit when I was feeling better so that at least part of this day was productive. At some point I was well enough to put together some semblance of a lunch. There was an amazing sunset that I saw through the windows that evening, so I took a photo from the porch. I went to sleep early so that I could wake up early and try to make up for missed time in the studio from not feeling well.

 

Wednesday, Day 10

I awoke relatively and was at the studio by around 8:30am. I immediately went to town on a new third painting, which is inspired by one of the photos I’ve taken at the property where I’ve been staying, and added in the idea of blue mountains behind the distant trees over the pond. In this painting, I really wanted to capture the diversity of some of the first spring greens on trees, grass, and evergreens. Before I started in on the painting, I first had to scrape off some of the extra paint to transfer it from my last palette setup to a fresh palette, with much more room now to mix these new greens. My first step was to tone the painting with green and blue, since those are the main bodies of color that will be on relatively each half of the painting. After that I used a bristle brush to stumble in the main lines and colors of the initial composition. Then I mixed a series of greens to fill in the different green areas.

 


I took a brief break to go and watch some of the horse events and competitions. I find the jumps to be the most fascinating, that horses can jump so high and so far with so much power, and so gracefully. Only once did I see a horse stop and refuse to complete a jump, probably lowering their rider’s score in the process. After each of the events, there’s a Zamboni system for the fields just like there is for a hockey rink. First two or three water trucks will come out in sync and water down the fields of sand so that they’re not too dusty, to keep the powder down. Then, 2-3 tractors pulling rake extensions will swirl around the field, following one another and criss-crossing one another. It’s pretty cool to watch. It seemed like they do this to the fields right outside my studio about 4-6 times a day.
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I returned to my studio and continued work on this painting, added now more and more dots and daubs of colors that filled in the colors of the composition, being sure to include both lights and darks, and some secondary colors to compliment them.

 


Once I had enough paint on the canvas to take a break, since I needed to let one section of the painting settle before I started on the next phase. So I took my little rental car and drove to the Walmart in Forest City, about a 20 minute drive away. I needed to pick up a few items that I had forgotten to pack, and needed a few of them for the next few phases of painting on my art residency. As I was pulling into the parking lot, I noticed that there was a full carriage/buggy hitched up to two big brown horses that were tied to the light poll. The whole horse-and-buggy setup took up about 3 parking spots parking crosswise. After I got all my personal and art items, I went to the register to cash out and pay for my purchases. Ahead of me in line were a woman wearing a long blue dress and bonnet, and a bearded man with a broad-rimmed straw hat and plain clothes. While I wasn’t surprised to see Amish or Mennonite folks after living in western NY state/PA region, I was surprised to see them here, since I didn’t know that there was an Amish population in North Carolina. The man paid in all cash and then they went about their business, loading their buggy as I passed them on my way out of the parking lot.

 


Since I hadn’t yet had lunch, I went to try Zaxby’s which I’ve heard is a chicken fast food place that’s only a southern chain. Upon walking in, I noticed a bunch of antiques and regional memorabilia all along the wall, like Cracker Barrel or TGIFriday’s. I got in line at the fast food counter and ordered a basic grilled chicken sandwich and cheddar bites. The staff was quite pleasant and the food was good. Altogether Zaxby’s reminded me of if Chick Fil A and TGIFriday’s decided to franchise fast casual business together.

 


After this excursion I returned to the studio to paint more, as today I was trying to make up for the sick day yesterday that caused me to miss a productive day in the studio. Even though this canvas was large, but not quite as large as the first triptych painting I first created, it was still taking me a long time to get all the initial detailed dots of paint onto the canvas.

 


I took a dinner break to go to the nearby Roger’s Diner to eat on their outdoor patio. Since they claim to have “breakfast all day” I decided it was a good time to test that adage by ordering their French toast, which ended up being really delicious, with a slight hint of caramelization.

 


I returned to the studio where I finally finished putting all the planned dots on the canvas, and then I started the process of making this painting “rain.” The colors started dripping together nicely and blending a little to start. Before I knew it, it was already 11:30pm. Before leaving for the night to head back to the house to sleep, I decided it would be cool to record a time lapse video overnight with my tablet, to record the motion of the drips. So I set up my tablet to record, and then a pop-up window claimed that the device didn’t have enough storage space to store the data for the video. So I had to take another half hour to manage my tablet’s storage, deleting unused apps and redundant photos.

 


I finally got it setup and working to record a timelapse photo of the painting, so I headed home. I washed some laundry and then went to sleep around 2am. At least it had been a really productive day!

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 8 (Mon)

When I looked out of the windows this morning, everything was covered in a thick blanket of fog, giving everything in the surrounding woods a mystical and magical feeling. Later this morning we drove to Forest City where I would pick up a rental car for the next few days. Then I stopped at a market to pick up a few fresh foods and a few things I had forgotten to pack. Then I drove to the studio to touch up my current painting, and possibly start a new one.

By the time I got back to the studio, I realized I wouldn’t have time to start a whole new painting, since we would be gone for the day in Asheville, and I only had about 1.5 hours to work with before I’d meet up with Tammy to head into the city. So I spent that time doing what would be the last touch-ups to the sunset rain painting.

Then I took the big blue mountain rain painting canvases off of their current easel and moved them to a corner of the studio where I had set up an area where they could lean against the wall and dry. I plan to touch up and paint the sides of the canvases that weren’t available to paint when they were on the easel (bottom, top, interior sides of the triptych). I started first turning the canvases upside down so that I could then paint the bottoms of the paintings where all the drip had accumulated, while the paint was still wet.

As I was removing these paintings from their easels, I noticed some really cool patterns and designs formed by the dripping of the paint and stand oil into the makeshift “paint gutter” trough, forming swirls and stripes as though intentional, a cool sort of side effect of this rain painting technique.

By the time I finished those tasks, Tammy was ready to head into the city of Asheville, about 45-60 minutes’ drive from the studio. Since she first had a business meeting, she dropped me off across the street at Trader Joe’s for to hang at with my laptop, since we figured it probably had a cafe of some sort. After

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walking around the store, it appeared that there was no specific place to sit down to get some work done with a cup of coffee, just common people doing their common grocery shopping up and down aisles. After standing awkwardly outside for a few minutes by the shopping cart awning (it was pouring rain), I walked across the street to the Bojangles fast food place. While they weren’t a “coffeeshop,” they still had places to sit, wifi, and snacks. So I ordered a biscuit and sweet tea and took a seat under the greenhouse-type area, with glass ceiling and window walls. The place was pretty empty aside from what seemed like a business meeting of a group on the opposite side of the dining room, and a senior couple getting a late lunch. I looked up a couple of articles that I needed to research on my phone and watching the torrential downpour slide down the windowed ceiling to windows.

After she finished her meeting, Tammy picked me up and we went downtown to the River Arts District, a happening part of town full of galleries, studios, bars and coffeeshops. We first visited Momentum Gallery, a modern space bursting with well-curated contemporary works of wall art, sculpture, artsy furniture, and installation spaces. We met the owners of the gallery and were pleased for them to give us a short tour of the gallery, and sharing more in detail about the art and artists that they represent.

When we finished up the gallery, we walked towards a restaurant that Tammy recommended for tapas. We stopped into a couple boutique shops along the walk. When we arrived at this hole-in-the-wall dining spot, they were closed until the bar opened at 5pm for drinks, and 5:30pm for dinner. Since it was only 4:45pm at the time, they let us inside to wait, and then we ordered at the bar, until they seated us for dinner at the appropriately scheduled time.

We ordered a variety of tapas plates, since each dish literally had enough only for a bite or two each. Rosemary bread and olive oil, avocado pork loin bites, shrimp, veggie tarts, etc. For dessert we ordered a small strawberry biscuit and a flourless chocolate torte. Each was very good, but the chocolate torte took the cake.

After dinner we realized that the other galleries we wanted to visit were closed, so we just headed home. The rain was still going steady, and as we drove, it was right around dusk, but the rain was so hard at times that it was getting hard to see out the windshield. As we were going over a bridge, some water from a deep puddle sprayed the windshield so that nothing was visible and we could feel the truck hydroplane a little. Fortunately, Tammy’s quick reflexes kept us on the road and safe, but it was a little hairy there for a minute.

She dropped me off at the equestrian center where I planned to just spend a quick half-hour touching up the last painting and setting things up to be productive in the studio tomorrow. I touched up the sunset painting just a little, finding that it was beginning to be difficult to move the paint around anymore, signifying that it’s getting more and more dry. I took the sunset painting off the easel and put it on the floor over the dropcloth, propped just an inch at the head, to slow any additional overnight drying. Then I took the “paint gutter” from that easel and noticed the slow drips of the excess paint along with some swirl patterns in the leftover paint.

After taking care of that, I drove my little rental car back to the house, where I settled in for an early evening, writing my daily blog post and hitting the sack, to prepare for tomorrow to be the ultimate productive day by getting an early start.

 

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 7 (Sunday)

This morning I joined Tammy and her visiting family to brunch at the Lake Lure Inn, per her recommendation we check it out. This historic hotel from 1927 right on the lake had all the charm of the 1920’s, from the player piano to the art deco and architecture. The dining room was pretty quiet but quaint, like visiting someone’s home dining room. The spread included everything from gravy and biscuits and french toast, to prime rib and potatoes, to German chocolate cake and chocolate fondue fountain. We paced ourselves and talked about our childhoods and family quirks.


We left the inn and returned to the farm to get our things and then went to the studios. I checked on the dripping progress of the second painting I have in progress, to see how much the paint moved overnight due to gravity. At first glance it seemed that not too much of the yellows and orange hues got overpowered by the blues and purples dripping from above. But upon closer inspection I found a insect or two stuck in the paint, right at some of the critical places in the painting.

I spent the afternoon brushing up the drips, trying to make some of the orange parts clearer, dragging some more purple up in to the sky, etc. Then we decided to make it an early finishing day, so we packed up our studios around 4:30pm to head home. We came back and sat on the back porch playing with the dogs for a short while. Then Tammy invited me to join her and her dogs to go for a hike up over at a property shhe had recently purchased and plans to put a barn/studio/homesatead built on it. The drive up was scenic and the path to the gate was lined with trees and rolling hills. She parked at the top of the hill, where we could get a 360 degree view of the mountains, hills, forests, and soon-to-be-setting sun.

We walked along a trail in the woods, through conservation land access that’s part of the property. Walking through the woods with a small creek, twigs snapping, and the smells of foliage and pine brought me back to when I hiked the woods of the Adirondacks all the time during a semester off campus. We even passed some naturally growing rhododendron plants and some small purple flowers growing close to the ground (but not snow crocuses).

The dogs, Scout and Jasper, ran along up ahead of us on the trail, darting to and fro weaving around the trees and brush to sniff any scent they picked up on the trail. When we stopped walking once for a break, we saw that Scout had crossed the creek to a clearing where it appeared he found the skull of a former deer. We slide down the bank and crossed the creek to see what he had discovered. It was indeed the skull of an eight-point buck, with complete antlers and completely cleared of all remaining flesh. Scout looked very proud, like he had found the best dog bone in the world, and all he wanted to do was chew it. We picked it up and brought it with us the rest of the walk, because it was such a cool find. The whole walk back Scout kept trying to bite the skull out of our hands, wanting it to be his chewbone since he had found and laid claim to it.

We continued the rest of our hike without incident, making our way in a loop back up the hills that we had driven in on. The lighting of the “golden hour” had just started, as we were just about an hour from sunset and the sun was thinking about going down after dinner. Instead of waiting to view the sunset, we left to go get pizza for dinner, which was perfect timing because by the end of the hike I was in need of a restroom, so it all worked out quite well.

 

We went to an italian pizzeria across from the Lake Lure In, where we had brunch this morning.  Tammy and I ordered our drinks and then split a sicilian thick-crust pizza with slightly different toppings on each half. The pizza was delicious! We sat on the outdoor patio overlooking the lake — what a view! We talked and laughed and sympathized with one another as we discussed life, art, obstacles, goals, and more. While we were talking and listening to the house radio music, the music scratched off and the restaurant lights flickered off and on, while the string lights on the patio were switched off. Not wanting to miss a hint that the restaurant was closing, Tammy and I made our exit, or at least attempted to. It appears that we were locked in at the main door, since neither of us could push the double door open (or pull it open, for that matter), so we had to ask the restaurant manager to let us out, thinking the door was locked. He opened the door like it was a breeze, so we felt stupid as we walked out.

We rode home in Tammy’s truck, where Scout managed to sneak his way from the back of the cab up to the front seat where I was sitting. At first he just rested his head on my art from his spot in the backseat, just behind the front seat’s center console/armrest. But within a few minutes he was literally sitting in my lap, this fluffy 60-pound Australian shepherd dog. He contorted himself in my lap so that he basically had me hold him as though I was rocking a baby, where he seemed quite content, all the way until we got home. Where we realized he had slid down and had somewhat crushed the leftover pizza takeout box. Upon getting home we each went to our own apartment and said goodnight. Tomorrow’s plan include getting a rental car and checking out the art gallery and restaurant scene in Asheville.

 

 

North Carolina Artist Residency: Day 6 (Sat)

We rolled out of the house right around the same time as the other mornings here, after chatting over coffee and debriefing on inside jokes from the day before. Upon arriving at the studio, I first checked over the first dripped painting of the blue mountain rain, seeing that it didn’t move much, I just touched up a few spots.

I was eager to return to my second painting so that I could finish up applying more of the thicker paint daubs and dots before getting it into my signature “rain mode.” I put a series of dots in blue, periwinkle and purple, then I took a break to go get a tea from the coffeeshop. Then I put more paint daubs and dashes in magenta, mauve and pink. Then I took a lunch break at the Mexican cantina. When I returned I put more paint daubs on in orange, gold and yellow.

I finally got the painting to a point that I was ready to “rain” on the second painting, to see all those beautiful sunset colors drip down into striking drips and runs. I was also a bit nervous to see how it would go, since I had two sets of opposite colors on top (blue, purple) that would run into their opposites (orange, yellow, respectively). But artists take chances; what artist ever got anywhere playing it safe? This whole rain painting experience has been exercises in patience and letting go of control and responding, so this painting was going to be no different. I took my brush and my stand oil, and went to work dripping the oil on the painting first to lube it up. Then I loaded my paintbrush with stand oil and began the process of applying pressure from top to bottom of the painting to get the colors to start running together.

Once I had the painting running like rain, I took a walk around campus to take a break from the painting, to allow a couple hours for the surface paint runs to move on their own. I worked on a couple emails, sorted through some photos to decide what could inspire my third painting’s composition. I went and got a hazelnut vanilla caramel macchiato, checked in on the painting, then watched some of the horse jumping events in the main arena across from the studios. It was a relatively warm, sunny day, so then I went to the general store on campus and ordered a peanut butter fudge ice cream cone, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this idea in the afternoon, because there was a long line of people waiting to order their ice cream.

I returned to the sunset mountain rain painting again and observed how far some of the original drips had fallen, with good amounts of sky blue coming into direct contact with the orange of the lower part of the sky, etc. With surgical precision I used a fine brush and removed any visible brush hairs, and then with the same careful handling, I moved my fan brush up and down the canvas, blending some areas and helping some other drips along, removing drips and helping to smooth and blend others in.

Tammy’s parents had arrived to visit from a long ways away, so she asked me to keep an eye on the gallery and studios while returned to the house to get them settled in and visit with them for a bit. Since I would have a better viewpoint of all the art spaces, I used this as a good break time from the actively dripping painting to take my laptop and catch up on writing my blog posts about my art residency impressions and artwork process. I caught up to about 2.5 days’ worth of writing and photo editing.

When Tammy returned, we went over to the “What the Fork” party held at the Legends lodge area outside under the portico. There was a band playing rock and roll classics, and people helped themselves to the buffet, drinks, and dessert bar. Tammy and I got our dinner and then sat in the adjacent gallery space by the fireplace, and we finally had a chance to talk in more depth about various ways we can adapt and interact our different styles and subject matter of artwork for our joint international art exhibit in Italy in June 2019, less than 3 months away. We scribbled sketches and concepts for how we can blend my rainy landscapes, her expressive horse and tack paintings, and her bronze/resin horse and tack sculptures. Our show will be titled “Rains & Reins” to reflect each of our contributions and signature artwork. Now that the opening of the gallery, and the artist reception are done, we aim to use my remaining week here to actively paint together on these concepts we discussed. I am excited to see these ideas come to fruition.

 

After dinner, I put some finishing touches on the painting before releasing my painting to my gravity elves for the night shift, and then we drove home for the night, where I finished this blog post and finally caught up all my blog posts so that I would indeed be writing and posting them within 24 hours of each day’s happenings.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 5 (Fri)

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I can’t believe that it’s Friday and that I’m already 5 days into my art residency here in North Carolina! I feel like I should have had 4-5 paintings in process already by now, but that would only work if I was spending literally every waking moment in the studio from 6am-11pm, but I’ve been working on pacing myself, so that I give each painting its due attention, and so that I can also take in the scenery, watch the horse competitions, interact and network with people here, and sample the culinary scene on campus. So even though I only have 1 canvas in process and 1 painting on the way, I’m still content with the life balance that I’ve aimed to include during my art residency.

This morning we got to the studios around 10am, and then I went next door to the coffeeshop, which had been closed since I arrived but it’s finally open! I ordered an earl grey tea latte, which was very good.

 

With my tea latte in hand, I analyzed the blue mountain rain painting to see how the drips had moved after its second overnight dripping. Surprisingly, there wasn’t anything disturbing about the drips, as they each moved into places on the painting that made sense, so I didn’t have to overly edit the painting, which was reassuring. But as I looked closer, I realized that there were 5-6 bugs stuck in the paint! So I very carefully took my fine point brush and feather brush to delicately remove the insects, then smooth over the “hole” left by their removal.

 

Since the first painting I worked on was well in hand, I decided to start putting paint on a second canvas just waiting for action. I am working on this painting inspired by photos from the previous night’s beautiful sunset over the mountains. I toned the canvas first to reflect the gradient changes from blue to purple to pink to orange to yellow.

 

Then I worked on adding silhouettes of the mountains and pine trees on the sunset horizon, mixing my own black color from purple, blue and raw umber and mixing it lightly with liquin so that it will dry just a little faster than the rest of the paint, so the paint drips will fall over the silhouette rather than mix with it. I emulated the texture of the trees as I saw from my perspective and was content with how they came out. I began to apply a few rounds of thicker paint to the purples and blues of the sunset, then we had to start getting ready for the artist reception that would be held tonight for people to meet the artist in residence — me!

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We moved tables to the courtyard area between our studios and Tammy’s shop/gallery. Then we hung one of my dry, finished paintings on the exterior wall over the refreshment table, and we put two other paintings on portable easels outside by the sidewalk for passers-by to see as they walked around the campus. I went through my messy art studio and tried my best to tidy up the studio so that visitors can come right in and see the two paintings in progress. It was kind of hard to have it look super neat and clean when I had puddles of paint under the easel on the dropcloth. Tammy put a few of her sculptures outside, too, as a small preview to promote the join exhibit that she and I will have in Italy later this summer. Once everything was mostly set up, we ran home to quickly freshen up and change for tonight’s reception.

 

I wore a blue cocktail dress that has quickly become my favorite dress, and it matched the blues of the Blue Ridge Mountains rain painting that I have on the easel. We had a small trickle of people come out of the woodwork to come into the studio and gallery to take a look at my artwork and to chat about my process. I always get very passionate and excited when talking about my Abstracted Rainy Moments collection, so I hope that my enthusiasm for art shone through to those that attended the reception. I answered many questions on process and paint and had a great evening sharing my art with some folks. A lot of people that came through were very intrigued with the blue mountain painting.

 

After the evening, Tammy and I and a friend of hers went to the Legends Grille to get a late lite dinner of soup and bread. We chatted and laughed about the day and the reception and shared feedback gathered from visitors. Then we turned off the lights in the studio for the night and went back home where we stayed up past midnight talking and laughing and having a relaxed time now that the reception was over.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 4 (Thur)

This morning we got going at a normal hour and I felt much better rested after turning in a little earlier last night than the midnight bedtime I’ve been doing since getting to this art residency. It made a world of difference once I got going into the studio.
When I went into the studio, I immediately turned my eyes to the blue mountain rain painting in progress, anxiously anticipating how well or poorly it had dripped after being left overnight. I was actually quite pleased with the direction and distribution of drips, so I had very little “editing” of the drips to do. So I took the rest of the morning to just lightly blend and feather the whole surface of the painting. Even if I don’t have to “delete” drips or help other along, it’s still important for me to make sure that each inch of the surface is still touched after its overnight drip, as it helps the paint and drips to adhere a bit better to the surface of the canvas as the paint and drip process continues over the course of a few days until the painting forms a light skin and then I can’t affect the drips much after that.
I took a painting break for lunch, when I got breakfast for lunch from Roger’s Diner, ordering a short stack of pancakes. Whenever I travel, I always measure the standard of a place’s breakfast options by judging their pancakes. The pancakes were good, I just prefer to have fruit (berries & bananas) baked directly into the pancakes rather than just placed on top of them as a garnish. I explained to Tammy that in my family we have a longstanding pancake tradition and I had standards to uphold.
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After lunch I returned to the blue mountain painting for the afternoon to update and blend out the surface to react to any new or moved drips while I was out and about the campus. This was one of few paintings (so far) that I didn’t feel the immediate need to remove tons of drips from the composition because I’m quite happy with the route the rain drips have taken throughout this painting process. I also noticed that the “rain gutters” that I had constructed out of the paper that came with the canvases weren’t quite keeping all the runoff oil and paint from dripping on the floor. But the gutter did have some really cool marbling pattern forming from the oil paint runoff.
I had read in one of the welcome brochures from this equestrian resort that the resident Italian restaurant on campus hosted a Pasta Bar on Thursday nights, so since today was Thursday, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out Campagna. While here, it’s my goal to try a meal from at least each food establishment on campus, and then I’ll resume my more economically friendly packed raemen for meals.
I had never done a pasta bar before, so I had just thought it was literally a buffet of different pastas and sauces and toppings. Apparently we had a pasta bar at our wedding years ago, but since I was the bride I was too busy taking a million photos with friends and family and never got to actually try the pasta bar there. I sat at an outdoor patio table, the first one in the restaurant, and the waitress brought over a delicious rosemary-garlic bread, accompanied by what tasted like a sweet marinara sauce with an island of ricotta cheese in the middle. As it turns out, it’s not just a sweet marinara sauce, it’s actually a tomato jam! After I finished my salad I went to the pasta bar, where a chef asked me which types of pasta (linguine or angel hair), veggie & meat toppings, sauce (alfredo or marinara) before he put all the selections into a pan and sizzled it up. I couldn’t decide between the linguine and angel hair so I got a mix of both, with chicken, meatballs, broccoli, spinach and garlic. I got the remainder of my pasta bar cuisine to go because I was needed to watch the art shop while Tammy attended the welcome mixer that was being held in the Legends gallery space 6-7pm.
When I came in to watch the shop for a couple hours, I made a new friend. One of the jewelry artisans, Carlos, was setting up his jewelry display while his dog, Koa, came over and wanted to be petted. I sat with Koa, chatting with Carlos about art and life. Koa left sitting by his owner’s side and came right up to sit on the couch with me, head in my lap (* heart emoji!*) I hung out with Koa and chatted with people when they came in to look at the artwork, sculpture, jewelry and home decor.
I can’t actually recall what we did for dinner, but then we went back to the house relatively early, considering the late nights we’ve previously returned home. I took the time to wash a load of laundry and catch up on writing the previous days’ blog posts before showering and going to sleep for the night. I was in bed by 9pm. My goal for tomorrow is to finish up the current blue mountain rain painting and to start a second painting on the next easel I have set up.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 3 (Wed)

This morning my main goal is to start one big painting, and hopefully apply all the dots throughout the day so that I’ll be able to either start apply the stand oil “rain effect” tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. I immediately dug into the various blues and assessed the reference image I’d be adapting for this composition. I unwrapped a few new brushes that I had recently purchased, mixed my first combination of blues, and made my first mark on the canvas.  Now that I had made my first marks, everything else became much more fluid.
I lightly laid out the main outlines of the mountain shapes and then moved on to adding in the first blobs of color on the top, and then I added more and more layers and paint to the canvas from top to bottom. I took a brief lunch break to get a quesadilla from the Mexican restaurant on campus, and then continued my work on the painting.
Tammy left for the afternoon and would come back around dinner time, so I opted to remain on campus to keep on making strides in continuing my work on this painting. It’s a good thing that I did, because by the time dinner came, my canvas was 90% filled in with the necessary composition.
Just before dinner there was a gorgeous sunset over the horse jumping field with the silhouette of the mountains in the background, with lots of vivid oranges and reds and yellows. I think that might become my next painting!
I got a quick dinner at Roger’s Diner, then I went back to the studio to work a bit more on the painting. After Tammy returned, we worked for awhile more into night, then we went to the wine bar on campus to enjoy happy hour and to catch up. The campus was a lot more lively with more people arriving with their horses for The Fork, a series of equestrian competitions and social events.
After our drinks, I headed back to the studio and began work on “raining” the painting so that it would at least start its drip tonight, so that I can touch it up in the morning. I wiped the painting from the top to the bottom, right to left, and then left it drip overnight. We’ll see how it looks in the morning…

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 2 (Tues)

This morning I awoke around 8am and joined Tammy for coffee at her place, then we drove to the studio for around 10:30am. I spent the remainder of the morning unpacking my art studio easels, paint, brushes, and setting up the space that would be functional for my workflow. Several canvases I had ordered arrived by mail so I unboxed and unwrapped them and set them aside.
I explored the Tryon Equestrian Center Complex for a bit later in the morning, getting my bearings of the equestrian resort campus. I got lunch at Rogers Diner, a 50’s style “silver bullet” diner located right on the property. Then I returned to the studio and worked on unpacking the boxes of canvases and affixing wires to the backs of the canvases. Then I set up the canvases on each of three easels so that they were ready to paint.
Later in the evening Tammy and I headed back to the house to let the dogs out and feed the horses. I got to meet her horses, Hondo and Drifter, and her neighbor’s boarded horse, Bert. After petting and feeding the horses, we got on yard cart and she gave me the 2 cent tour of the property . We made dinner and rested a bit, then headed back to the studio to get a few last things done for the night.
My goal for the night was just to figure out what imagery I was going to paint as inspiration for this first rainy painting, and to get the canvas toned the right color so that the canvas would be ready for me to start apply paint daubs and dots tomorrow morning. I decided on blue mountains, inspired from some of the photos we took while we were exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I broke out the oil paint and gamsol and laid out my piles of paint. Since I would be painting blue mountains, I took out all 6 variations of tube paint blue that I had brought with me: cerulean, pthalo, ultramarine, Prussian blue, cobalt blue 1 & 2 (different brands had slightly different saturation so). I mixed together a little bit of each color and then applied the tone to the canvas and then used rags to wipe it in for a more even blend and then outline the mountains in the composition. We finished up around 10pm then headed back to the house for the night.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 1 (Mon)

This is the first in a series of blog posts about my two week art residency in North Carolina’s Tryon International Equestrian Center. 
I am honored to have been selected to be the very first artist of the Equestrian Artists of Tryon Artist In Residency studio program. These daily blog posts will detail my experience here.
Since the road trip to North Carolina will be about 14 hours of drive time (not counting breaks), my husband and I decided to break it up by stopping a few places to stay and visit with friends. On Saturday we left Rhode Island and stayed with friends in Pennsylvania. On Saturday morning we did the long leg of our trip from PA to a hotel in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Along the road we stopped for photos at a few of the “Welcome to Maryland/Virginia/North Carolina. We also noticed that the further south we got, the more signs of spring we saw. In Rhode Island, the temperatures were still 30-50*F without any big tree blossoms or flower blooms just yet, and as we kept going we saw flowers and blossoms and the temperature was in the mid to high 60’s (*F).
On Monday morning we left early to head to our final destination of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, where I will be the artist in residence for April. What should have been a 2.5 hour straight trip turned into a 6 hour trip, since we wanted to explore some of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains region, as I wanted to snap some reference photos for use in my paintings. Along the way we also stopped a few times to try food from some of the food chains that we don’t have in our area, namely Bojangles and Hardee’s. It’s all about just the right biscuit.
We noticed during our drive through NC and VA that there was an unusually frequent number of abandoned cars on the highway through these states. We weren’t sure if it was because we were just seeing a lot of road during our road trip, and thus seeing more abandoned cars on the roadside, or if it just was genuinely because there really are more left cars.
We arrived in Tryon around 4pm and met up with the art residency coordinator, Tammy. As we drove up the long driveway, we were escorted by the greeting committee, Jasper and Scout, Tammy’s dogs. When we got out of the car, Scout was already jumping up to meet us. The property is beautiful, with acres of pastures for grazing horses and livestock, along with a reflection pond and lots of trees and knolls.
We got settled into the apartment I’d be staying in, and then we unloaded my art equipment into the studio that I’ll be using during my stay. Then we drove towards Lake Lure to get dinner.  Along the way, Tammy drove us to a viewpoint where we could see Chimney Rock in in all its glory. We ate at an American meat-and-potatoes place right along the lake. After that, we drove home and settled into the apartment for the night. My husband leaves in the morning for his own road trip while I am here for the next two weeks on my artist residency.