Opening Reception Photos from La Pioggia dei Colori exhibition, Frosinone Italy

In June 2019 Rachel Brask had a solo exhibition of 50 paintings in at the Galeria Villa Comunale in Frosinone, Italy. She attended the opening reception along with her parents, who had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to join her in support. The curator, Alfio Borghese, gave a brief introduction of her work, then Rachel Brask gave a brief talk about her artwork’s inspiration and process, all in beginner’s Italian, with the help of Google Translate. Here are a few photos from the exhibition’s opening reception.

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Two new paintings for Italy exhibition

During the Memorial Day weekend, rather than spend time with friends and family at various cookouts and barbecues, I spent quality time getting to know two new canvases of my Abstracted Rainy Moments series about to head to Italy. With a two-person show suddenly becoming my one-person solo show, I felt I needed to include a few more large paintings, so I got started on the first one of two.

 

After adding all of the background points of paint, I used stand oil and a progressive smattering of brushwork to help the painting to “rain” on the scene.

Then I set up another canvas on the adjacent easel and started applying colored dots of thick paint daubs to evoke the sensation of mountains and pine trees and a field.

Then I got out the stand oil and my broad brush to “rain” out the paint daubs into drips that I then let continue to drip overnight, only retouching the drips every few hours until nightfall. The next morning I touched them up a bit more.

After the main surface of the two paintings had stopped dripping then I touched up the each of the side panels, and then I let the paintings air out for a week. To help hopefully speed up their drying, I placed an oscillating fan directly in front of them. Then the day came that I had to pack them up for shipment to Italy along with the other 40+ paintings I was sending for a solo exhibition outside of Rome.

 

 

Painting Commission Complete

A family’s painting commission of three panels of one large rainy triptych has now been completed and installed! Check out the photos below to see its process!

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The first stage of applying the first layers of paint to the final large canvases, inspired by the view of sunset seen filtering through the trees of the clients’ backyard

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Side by side comparison of the 8×10″ sketches (foreground) and the final painting (background)

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Finished painting drying on easel after dripping

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Final paintings installed in clients’ living room!

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 12 (Fri)

Today is my last full day here at my Edgewood Farm art residency in Truro, MA. While I had previously thought that I should be able to start raining one last painting today, which would have been my 6th, I realized that it was impractical. Because we have to check out by 11am and I have a whale watch scheduled for this afternoon, I have to be realistic with my remaining timeframes today. I used the morning to start breaking down my studio setup, putting away my paints, cleaning brushes, washing off the jenga blocks so that they can be reused for other paintings. I started packing the big stuff into the blue suitcase that they all came in, which I’ve now dubbed my art res suitcase, since it makes transporting art supplies all in one suitcase much easier. I was actually able to clear off the whole center table off during the morning packing session, leaving one more table to clear. While I was cleaning and packing the studio this morning, I also put through one final load of laundry, realizing that I was just one day short of a final clean outfit to travel in tomorrow morning.

 

I took the remaining paintings that were still on easels and turned them upside-down on a strip of paper so that the canvases were resting partially against the wall. I left out just one can of Gamsol so that I can thin down the paint drips on the bottom of the canvas so that it can be used to cover any white spots of the bottom of the canvas. I’ll have to just touch up the one blank spot on the tops of each canvas after I return to my home studio. I touched up the edges of what I could take care of today, and left them leaning against the wall to dry this afternoon. Once those were all set, I got myself together to get ready to head to my whale watch from the Provincetown pier. I have never been on a whale watch before, and I am very much looking forward to it, especially since I’ve heard that there have been a lot of whale and dolphin sightings this week.

Just before I checked into the whale watch dock, I swung into Stop & Shop (now back to normal and fully stocked) to buy some Dramamine to fight any possibility of seasickness, along with some gloves to keep my hands warm from the sea spray. As I pulled into the pier’s parking lot, I got an email from the whale watch company indicating that today’s tour had been cancelled due to the weather forecasting rainstorms along with thunder and lightning. I was bummed out that it had been cancelled, but I’m sure that it was for the better. The tour originally would have departed at 1:30pm and returned around 4:30 or 5:30pm, so now I had this big chunk of afternoon time to work with. I decided I would still make something of it, rather than just returning to campus dejected from an afternoon cancellation.

The first order of business was to get some lunch, as I hadn’t eaten lunch because I didn’t want to have a big meal digesting while we were going over some gnarly waves in the boat. I walked around Commercial Street a bit, evaluating my options. As I was walking I passed Womencraft, a place that had been closed the day before. I stopped in to see what they have, some quirky crafts and cards and buttons. I found a section of published and artfully illustrated poems by Kate Wallace-Rogers and located “Surrender,” the poem that she had read to us on our first day of the residency and again at the open-mic night. I found a canvas panel painted and hand-written with the poem and purchased it so that I have it to inspire me at all times. It’s going in my studio so that I can see it every day.

I walked around a bit and came to the Post Office Cafe, what seemed to be a funky take on a postal office themed diner. I went in and saw a few small tables and a bar, with a red and blue postal stripe all the way around the wall. I just ordered a small wedge salad as an appetizer, as I was still curious to try some other place for a full lunch, but a small side salad would be a good starter and ensure that I got in a serving of green veggies for today.

I walked around Commercial Street’s East End walking toward the West End, evaluating worthy lunch options. I came to the Crown & Anchor, right next to the cabaret, a restaurant and inn with an open-air patio that we had passed many times. I had always been curious to see what it was all about, so I decided to get my lunch here. The waiter brought me to a table on the indoors section of the space, but I requested to sit on the patio (which now had clear panels instead of open walls because of the windy day), so that I could do some people-watching as I was eating lunch. The host complied, adding that there was a private wine-tasting happening in the same space so that I would hopefully not be bothered by their event. I said I’d stay quiet in the corner enjoying my lunch.

I ordered the mac and cheese, which was served on a hot skillet, oozing with melted cheeses. Pairing mac and cheese with a white wine, it was a perfectly cozy lunch, and a nice reprieve from the rainy, cold and windy weather that I was earlier walking around town in. After I finished my mac and cheese, the waiter suggested a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla gelato. Since today was really my last full day to try this place, I figured, “Why not?” The cake was served warm and was very rich and perfect comfort food for this dismal weather day.

After lunch I went walked back towards my car from the West End towards the East End, where I had parked in a toll parking lot, but it was thankfully free parking until May 1st. On the way in I stopped at Cabbot’s Candy, wondering what it was since I had heard the name elsewhere. The gentleman working the register was wearing a classic brown felt top hat, reminiscent of another friend who daily wears a black top hat in Rhode Island. He generously allowed me to sample small bits of different flavored fudge. I found it interesting that they had a lemon fudge, which I had never seen as a fudge flavor before. I had seen vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. before, but never lemon. The flavor of the lemon was subtle but very good, so I bought just a small sample to take with me.

I continued walking until I got back to my car, nearly blowing the car door into me as I boarded my SUV. I drove away and thought to stop in North Truro again on my way back to the Edgewood Farm campus, in order to stop at Chequessett Chocolates to order a coffee. I ordered a Thai coffee, flavored with the slightest hint of vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. From there I thought I’d explore Atlantic Spice Co., if they were open. I followed my GPS and signs towards the big blue building of the Atlantic Spice Company. Upon walking in each shelf was filled with a plethora of kitchen caboodle, gadgets, teas, spices, jams and other culinary cookery. I immediately found my way to the mugs and teapots, finding a cute one that really spoke to my tea aesthetic.

Then I stumbled upon their loose-leaf tea section, which was a full wall of large packages of loose-leaf teas at wholesale prices. There must have been over 36 different types of tea leaves represented. I threw a few bags of English Breakfast and Earl Grey and Masala Chai tea leaves into my little grocery hand-cart. I went over to where there were also tons of packages spices and extracts, all at wholesale prices so everything was really cheap for a good quantity. I loaded up on garlic, ground cinnamon, and basil. As we were walking the shelves, a giant BOOM thundered through the store, feeling like something had fallen on the roof. All the other customers, including me, were quickly started to hear the crack of thunder sounding so very close to us, without even a pre-rumbling to warn us. Just as I was about to check out, the sky opened up and tons of rain just came flooding to the ground in a total deluge of rain. While it’s great to inspire my paintings, it wasn’t so great to have to walk out to my car in this, without my rain cape or umbrella. I braced myself and then braved my way into the downpour to my car. While I survived, the brown paper bag containing my spoils didn’t fare quite as well. When I get home I’ll have to just put them all into an extra plastic bag.

I did have other plans to go drive to Long Nook Road, per the recommendation of one of the people that came through the open studios last night. But when the sky opened down and rained an ocean I decided to do otherwise and just head back to campus. I still had a bunch more cleaning and packing to do, and I hoped to be able to load the majority of my bags and art supplies into the car tonight so that there’s less to do tomorrow.

When I got back to Edgewood Farm, I ran into Patty and chatted pleasantries about our days for a bit. Then I put on my artist apron and went into breakdown and packing mode. I was able to finish up and zip the big blue art supplies suitcase and put several other loose ends into reusable grocery bags, then I brought all those things downstairs by the door to facilitate loading. I cleared off all the table surfaces and consolidated my remaining technology and laptop bag, since I’ll be using my computer and tablet later tonight. Once I felt good about most of my supplies from the studio all packed up, I went and spent some time downstairs packing up some of the items and accumulated goods in my bedroom. It didn’t take very long, and I left out a backpack and main clothing suitcase so that I can use them tonight and then I’ll load them up in the morning.

I brought my cart around to the main door to get ready for loading. I spent the next half hour moving things around in my car, loading up the big art suitcase, bags, boxes, and more. Then I finally took some time to carefully load my wet paintings into the slots of the custom canvas storage rack in the cargo hull of my SUV. It was a little difficult at first to get things slid in, but with a little bit of taps and pushing everything fit. I put in the three large canvases, and then followed shortly with the smaller two which could fit on the same rack slot. After loading all my art and bedroom stuff was all completed, I then emptied my trash bins and recycling and brought everything down to the designated bins behind the barn for trash and recycling. I finished up all this business with sweeping the floor of my studio.

Now that all the important stuff was loaded, now was time to unwind and debrief from the day, and to have dinner. I microwaved some of the leftover mac and cheese I had from lunch today, poured myself a glass of chardonnay, and sat at the living room table to eat dinner and watch the rain and lightning storm through the dining room windows. After I finished eating, I took my glass of wine and went upstairs to my studio to spend some last few moments in the space, writing my blog post from the day with some strawberries and wine. If I had extra time, I would sort through some of my photos from all the sunsets in the days before, in addition to the dune tour photos that I still had to sort through. I made a short list of photos that I had to send to either Martha or to Patty before I turned in and called it a night. I wrapped up my computer work, put my laptop and tablet and corresponding charger cords into the laptop bag and brought them to my bedroom so they’re ready to pack up and go in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll aim to get on the road home probably around 10 or 11am for the two hour drive home, possibly stopping somewhere for lunch or coffee along the way. It’s hard to believe that this session of my art residency at Edgewood Farm in Truro is finally coming to a close. In evaluating my time here this year, I’d say that I still had a great time. This year, compared to last year, I completed about half less physical paintings, but I also had a lot more springtime distractions to be able to go out and research photos for later paintings to be completed at my home studio (and the paintings I did this year were twice the size of last year’s so they took a bit longer). The dynamic between all the artists this time was much different, but still fine: last year we three were all snowed in together so we really, really bonded through that experience and ended each night with a glass of wine and laughter and talking late; this time there were 4 artists and two of them had already been here for 2-3 weeks prior so there was no sense to really gel quite as cohesively, everybody just did their own thing and maybe ran into one another. While the former is true, at least I had a really fantastic series of adventures bonding with Martha, since both of us did the same 2-week term and were connected through our mutual friend, Nan. We went on the dune tour together along with a few day trips and meals out, which was really awesome, as Martha is a kindred and warmly energetic spirit. While we are a couple decades apart in age, Martha’s young spirit really spurred me to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the residency and in life. I hope that we can stay in contact and maybe bump into on another again at another residency here or elsewhere.

I was just one painting short of reaching my goal of painting 6 paintings during my time here, but I now have endless photographed research options for using as reference photos for paintings for another time. I really enjoyed coming back to Truro’s Edgewood Farm a second time. This time around I felt much more confident with knowing where things were in Provincetown (I only used my GPS once the whole 2 weeks I was out here!) and I felt like I got to experience more of the town itself because some seasonal galleries, restaurants, and experiences had just started opening as of last week, so to get to see everything in the early off-season was great because there wasn’t much traffic or waits to get to any of these places. I feel like I made some really genuine connections while here, and I would definitely do it again in another year or two. But I predict that the next time I do a residency at Edgewood Farm I will be working in wax (encaustic) instead of oil paint. That is my prediction because part of this residency (taking encaustic classes with Cherie) also helped to inspire me to really tackle encaustics in my home studio. While I have taken at least 2 weekend sessions of encaustic workshops over the last two years, it was this third series of sessions with Cherie (my first with Cherie) that really gave me some of the chutzpah to really pursue it once I get back. I have to rearrange my home studio a bit and purchase some of the encaustic equipment (a griddle, heat gun, materials, etc.) to really get started, but I think I will follow through this time around.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 11 (Thur)

This morning I was up and in the studio by around 10am after taking a short part of the morning to add photos to yesterday’s blog post to publish it today. Once up in the studio, I got to work on coordinating what I would need to do to clean up and setup my studio space for the open studios event that we were having today 4-6pm. I made a list and surveyed my space to see what would be the most efficient way to start. I moved the table that was forming an L with my art supply table to the wall, so that I could access the wall without windows so that I could hang a few paintings up there. Fortunately my burned fingers were feeling much better today, no stinging just a little sensitivity, so I was able to have much more use of my hands for handling paintings today than I would have yesterday afternoon after the incident.

I took the first canvas off the wall and turned it upside down against the wall, so that I could paint the bottom edge of it. Once that was all set, I took my hammer and put a nail up in the wall to hang up the first painting. On a roll, I took the second big painting down off its easel and turned it upside down so that I could paint the bottom edge and seal it so it could start drying when back up on the wall. After painting it I used a paper towel to gently brush some of the extra paint off the back of the canvas, so it wouldn’t get on the wall, when I suddenly broke off a large splinter and it went right under the nail of my right hand’s index finger. I yelped and checked my finger for the splinter. I ran to my bathroom to find a pair of tweezers to remove the splinter and to wash it out. I put triple antibiotic ointment and a bandaid on space between the finger flesh and the nail. I was so flustered and frustrated that something so stupid and unplanned derailed my hands  (and my plans) again, I just needed to go for a drive to clear my head.

I went to my car and turned out of the driveway towards Provincetown, but I didn’t think I’d go straight to Commercial Street, but I also didn’t have any particular destination in mind. I pulled into the road with a sign pointing to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I parked my car at the corner of the parking lot overlooking the ocean. I was fuming with anger when I arrived, so I rolled down the windows and let the ocean breeze just blow away my frustrations. I got out and snapped a few photos from the comfort of my car. Once I had calmed down a bit, I pulled away to drive to wherever my next destination would take me. I passed the road towards North Truro, realizing that I hadn’t been down that road yet, so I gave it a try.

As I drove, there was a little town square area that had a few little shops, including a chocolate store (!), a cafe, and a little marketplace. I first went into the Chequessett Chocolates shop, and found that it was more than just a chocolate shop, it was also a coffee shop, serving up espressos and cappuccinos too, along with some limited baked goods. The other part of the shop was a a bonafide craft chocolate shop and Cape Cod handmade souvenir and local gourmands.I ordered their Chocolatte, a hot chocolate with a half shot of espresso. They gave it to me in the cutest little cup and saucer, and I sat in one of the little bistro tables inside, sipping my hot chocolate.

Once I made it to the bottom of my hot chocolate, I wandered around the shop to see what they had there, then I went just down the street a little ways to the Salty Market. I walked into the small store with a maximum of 3 tall shelving units, and the rest were local wines and beers of Cape Cod, and the other section of store was a deli, making fresh sandwiches to-order. I realized that it was right around lunchtime (maybe why I was also so hangry) so I ordered their jerk-chicken salad, and Cape Cod chips (since we are on Cape Cod), and brought the sandwich to-go, along with today’s daily newspaper, the Provincetown Herald, in which I was included in a feature article along with the other 3 artists of the residency. The photo turned out the great and the article was well written, with good transitions and detailed enough quotes and information about each artist and their work.

I took the sandwich and drove back to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I ate my lunch overlooking the water. From there I started driving away head back to campus, now that I was much calmer. It was a nice day, so on the way I stopped at Savory to get a single scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream on a sugar cone. I returned to campus feeling refreshed and ready to take on my studio. I finished hanging the painting that had given me the original splinter, and then hung the third large painting. I moved the tables so that access to the space was better, and I straightened up the art supplies and tools that were sprawled all over both tables. I took a broom and sweeped the space, moving my remaining easels with paintings still dripping to select locations to blog some of the unsightly bags and boxes from unpacking. After the studio was all set up and clean, I had only about a half hour before it was officially start time (the afternoon just flew!), so I went to my room to rest just a little before all the busy started.

People trickled in pretty steadily starting around 4pm until around 6pm, with people answering questions and starting interesting conversations with me about my artwork and about their lives and experiences with art. The artist that I had chatted with a few days ago in the gallery came and brought a few friends! It was great to see Laura again and to meet her friends. A bunch of people connected with the Truro Center of the Arts Castle Hill also came out. Several people noted that they came to this event because they saw the article in today’s edition of Provincetown Banner. Over all it was a good event, with maybe about 15-30 people attending.

After the open studios, Martha and I went out to dinner in P-town. Before we made it to the restaurant, we noticed that the sunset was shaping up to be pretty awesome, so we went straight to Herring Cove (knowing the right place to go this time helped), and we got out of the car and onto the beach for the best view of the changing sunset. I snapped what felt like hundreds of photos and videos and selfies with one another. The sunset kept getting better as it went, finally peaking while peeking out from behind a big cloud for a great sunburst sunset.

We went to dinner at The Brewhouse, and noticed that the whole place was full of all men at tables, with only 1 female that we could see when we entered the place. We got a small table in the corner away from the hubbub and ordered some drinks on tap and our dinner. My burger was very good and Martha said that her shepherd’s pie was delicious. After we finished up and paid the bill, we started to drive back to town. But on the way we noticed that the sky was really clear tonight and that a lot of stars were visible. So I drove looking for dark spots away from all the “city” lights, so that we could get a good view of the stars outside of light pollution. I pulled again into Head of the Meadow Beach area (for my third time today), where we had the place to ourselves, and we were able to see the stars perfectly overhead. We even saw a shooting star a few minutes after arriving! It was a nice night for it, not too windy or cold, and before it was forecast to be cloudy and rainy the next few days.

We got back to the campus around 10 and I instantly started my bedtime routine.  I didn’t have any energy left to try to do anything in the studio today, as far as starting my last canvas, because today was all about getting ready for the open studio. I went to sleep fairly early tonight.

Truro Art Residency: Day 10 (Wed)

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This morning I wasn’t feeling great and I just woke up feeling like today just wasn’t going to be my day, I don’t really know why and I probably couldn’t articulate how I felt that way. Feeling this way, I wanted to avoid running into anything that would really make my day crazy, so I gave myself a long, slow morning to relax from the comfort of my bedroom. I finished up the two days of blog posts that were late, and updated my website and a few other things, so the morning was still productive, just not in the active painting sort of way. I aimed to start on a small canvas this evening, after I finished up my encaustic class. 

I made myself a small lunch and headed off to the last encaustic class that I would be taking from Cherie during my residency. I gathered up my encaustic supplies and arrived a few minutes early to set up. The other students arrived and class started. Cherie went over a few techniques for doing more involved photo transfers and charcoal transfers. I really connected with the charcoal and graphite transfers so I ended up incorporating more of thos into my encaustic piece over the course of the next 3 hours. I layered and layered wax and drawings and wax. It was fun and interesting to experiment and play around with the material to get a handle on these new methods I was learning.


Towards the end of class I started another small but quick encaustic piece, playing around more with the vertical lines and movement. While today was just playing around with the materials and techniques, it’s still another step closer to my exploring what I can do with encaustic to possibly extend my exploration and celebration of rainy days. At the end of class we started cleaning up, and I needed to do just one last step with my encaustic painting before I wrapped everything up. I reached for the heat gun (it looks like a hairdryer but is about 100 degrees hotter), and as I reached for the handle, my depth perception was off and I ended up grabbing the hot muzzle of the gun, instantly kicking in my reflexes to retract my burned fingers and run quickly to run them under cool water. It all happened so fast! The very tips of my fingers and thumb on my right hand (my painting hand!) were sore in a burn kind of way. One of the ladies in class happened to have some burn treatment gel in her bag, so she gave it to me to use on my poor digits. I lathered the burn gel all on the fingertips and then put a plastic glove on over them to keep my fingertips clean and the gel in contact with the burn area. Once I got my burn all situated we resumed cleaning up (me cleaning with one hand) and did a light review of everyone’s encaustic artwork created during this class in the last 2-3 weeks. I drove myself back as soon as we ended class, finding some band aids and cleaned up my burned fingertips. My studio mate and fell artist Patty was so kind as to help me wrap up my fingertips in bandages and then I sat for a bit with my fingertips in contact with an ice pack. I tried to get some website work done in that time, but realized just how hard it is to use a track pad with my left hand (I’m right-handed).

Some time passed and I managed to one handedly get myself some dinner and sat looking out the window of the living/dining room to see the sun was starting to get into position to assum its sunset position. I decided that I needed to get out of the house and get my mind off my stupid slightly-injured fingers, so I grabbed my camera with my left hand and drove over to Corn Hill Beach, an area in Truro that I have also heard is a good place to watch the sunset. A I pulled into the empty parking lot, I realized it’s not a beach where there’s a nice overlook to watch the sunset from my car. So I got out and spied a tall hill in the corner of the lot that I imagined would have an excellent unobscured view of the sunset. I started climbing up this sandy hill, realizing that it was indee more sand than hill, and the shoes I was wearing, some black flats, we’re not cut out for sand climbing. So I just kicked off my shoes and peds and climbed the hill barefoot. It was actually a really nice sensation to have my feet sink into the sand on the way up.

THe view from the top was amazing, but the sky was looking pretty cloudy, so I wasn’t sure how the sunset would turn out, but I decided to stay and snap photos anyway, since I had already made the effort to climb this difficult sandy dune hill. What happened next with the sunset was pretty cool: the more time went on, the more the clouds shifted to allow more glowing sunset light to shine through, the cooler the photos I was able to take. In the end, it was a pretty spectacular sunset, with pink glowing orb at times, and some nice colors reflecting off of the bay water and off of the clouds.


After the sunset, I returned to campus, spent a little time talking with family via video phone and then watched an episode of something on my laptop before deciding that tonight would be a good night to get to bed early. So I turned into my bedroom early and said goodnight. Today was one day that I didn’t get to do any painting, but I also had this weird finger burn injury happen when I wasn’t planning to. By later in the night my fingertips were at least feeling a bit better. Tomorrow I’m hoping to be a bit more back to normal, to get my last painting of my goal of six paintings started, and hopefully enjoy having our open studios event tomorrow evening .

Truro Art Residency: Day 9 (Tue)

This morning I awoke late than I had planned, with Martha and I leaving for a Dune Tour at 10:30am I had hoped to get a painting started by then. I ended up having just barely enough time, after showering and getting ready, to swipe a paintbrush lightly and rushed over the surface of the waterfall and rocks rain. I gathered my good camera and multiple outer layers and we headed to take one of Art’s Dune Tours.

We arrived exactly at 11am, the time for our reserved tour. We were introduced to Rob, the owner and son of the original Art, who started Art’s Dune Tours in the 1940s. We loaded up in the Suburban along with a senior couple, with we three women in the back seat and Rob and the husband up front, so that nobody had to be relegated to the third row seat. As we drove to the entry point to the off-road section of the dunes, Rob filled us in on his own personal history, his father’s history with the the dunes, and the history of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is government-protected national treasure.

Even the brief drive to the dunes was scenic, and as soon as the tires spun into the first spit of sand, it was on! I took off the lens cap of my camera and snapped photos left and right, adjusting my shutter speed since we were taking photos while in motion. We rolled and spun and flew over the dunes, sometimes taking a slow climb up a steep dune with deep treads in the road. There were a few spots where there even appeared to be puddles, like mirages in the Sahara desert, but they were in fact aquifers from springs under the dunes, making their way up to the surface. As we rode along, Rob would point out some of the local flora and fauna, from reindeer lichen and Tom’s Beard Moss, to cormorants and whitetail-tailed deer. At one point we even drove almost right through a flock of cormorants on the beach, causing them all to fly up and away in slow motion. Driving through the dunes felt, at times, like we were driving some some kind of alien landscape on a sci-fi show, or like we were combing the Gobi desert on an episode of National Geographic.

We were even able to stop and get out the car a couple times to take photos, and to take it all in. The guide even offered to take photos of us and the other couple, having a great time! When we did get out the car, man was it cold! It was maybe 42 degrees (F) out, but with the ocean wind whipping over the dunes, it felt much, much colder! I could barely feel my hands after we finally got back into the warm vehicle. Next time I’ll wear gloves if we go out again at this time of year. We couldn’t tread very far from the vehicle because the lands were roped off beyond the dune trail in order to protect fragile sea grasses and lichens from being trampled underfoot. Apparently, according to history, the dunes used to be like any other wooded area in Provincetown, but the early settlers picked the land clean of wood for their homes and ships, leaving nothing to really anchor the dirt and sand underneath and subject to erosion, which made the sand dunes we see today. Over all we had a really great dune tour, with a Rob as an excellent and personable guide, and we are so very glad that we did decide to do the dune tour. My camera battery also had a good time, deciding to only shut down my camera in the last 10 minutes of the trip, so at least I didn’t miss snapping photos for most of the tour, but I do need to buy a camera battery charger because I left mine at home and didn’t remember to bring it for the residency.

After we recovered from the awesomeness of the dune tour, Martha and I walked across the way from the dune tour office to try out a little pub called The Squealing Pig for lunch. Since I was still a bit frosted from the dune tour, I ordered a small cup of tomato basil soup, and Martha ordered a hot coffee. The place had a cozy pub-like ambiance, but the menu was much broader than just pub food. I ordered the chicken pesto panini (have you noticed yet that I love pesto?) and Martha got a fish sandwich. Martha and I just spent half of our lunchtime fawning over the sheer amazingness of the dunes, the paint colors we would use to capture their majesty, and laughing over the dune jokes that our guy used often during the tour. The food was very good, and I would definitely return to this little spot again sometime.

After lunch we walked around Commercial Street a bit, looking to stop into the store Womencraft, a shop with art and craft objects for sale by women artists and writers. We wanted to find a poem published by Kate W-R, the hospitality coordinator for the residency and a very good poet. She had ready one poem to us on our first day, and again at the open mic last night, that was perfect for the art process, and I would love to have a copy of the poem. When we arrived at the shop, it was closed because it was Tuesday, and most places on Commercial Street were closed on Tuesdays, only to open again on Thursday through Sunday. We turned around and started walking back towards where we had parked before the dune tour, only to stop briefly into the Purple Feather to get one of their famou hot chocolates. It was very good and loaded with whipped cream, and a tiny little chocolate heart on top of the whipped cream. As I ate the whipped cream with the gelato spoon they provided, the little chocolate heart had nothing to float on, so it sunk to the bottom of my hot chocolate, to melt and be enjoyed later as I finished my beverage.

We returned to campus, and touched up the dripping waterfall rain painting for awhile, before I realized that I needed to go find a camera shop for my Canon Rebel T3i camera battery to get a charger for it. I recalled that my studio mate, Patty, had mentioned a camera shop she went to in Orleans to make prints. I asked her where it was, and realized that they close by 5pm. So I had to drop my paintbrush right then in order to make it to the camera shop in time before they closed. I got in my car and went, arriving just in the nick of time. The staffer there was very knowledgeable about cameras and their battery needs and recommended a multi-battery charger that would also accommodate mine. I bought it, thanked them, and got back on the road to Truro.

When I returned, I had  just a couple hours in which to work in the studio before I had planned to meet Maartha to try to catch the potential sunset over at Race Point or Herring Cove. I had asked the dune guy which beach to see for which best time of today, and he said Race Point. We got in the car around 6:45 to hopefully catch the beginning transition to sunset, which had the official sunset time of 7:28, but I think that’s when the sun officially dips below the horizon. I wanted to be there at least a half hour before that time. We followed signs to Race Point, taking a right long before I had remembered, thinking it was straight that I was supposed to go. But oh well, we were following signs so that should help us. We drove through dunes and hills, trying to keep a sense of which side the fading sunlight was coming from. There was a slow car ahead of us that we were getting frustrated that it was blocking our opportunity to catch the full spectrum of the sunset. We drove to what seemed to be the end of Race Point, with a big officially looking house nearby, a parking lot, and the ocean just beyond a short walking path. But this wasn’t the drive-up ledge that I remembered parking at last year to watch the sunset from the comfort, and warmth, of my own car. Something seemed off.

I thought then maybe the guide might have been off, and that we should have headed to Herring Cove to catch the best sunset over the bay and to live our best life. We got turned around and followed signs towards Herring Cove, with some sort of warning about beach construction. Up ahead by about 50 feet was a barrier blocking the road, Road Closed, said the sign amidst traffic cones. We couldn’t go any further so I turned the car around with a 3-point turn, and headed back to Route 6to get our bearings again. When we got to the red light, we turned right, to correct for where we should have gone straight initially. We followed a new set of signs for Herring Cove Beach, which brought us to a parking lot (which was open) of a bunch of road construction vehicles (plows, bucket trucks, dump trucks, etc) and another road block, which would have lead to that ledge over a the beach where we could watch the best sunset from our cars. After all this, we drove back to that little spot around Race Point and watched the remainder of the sunset from our car, but it wasn’t right over the beach and ocean water, but the sky was still pretty. It wasn’t an epic sunset like the intense reds of a few nights ago, but it was still pretty cool to see and to photograph. We stayed through the end of the sunset, sometimes getting out to stand on the nearby picnic tables in the window to get a. Better photograph. At one point we were joined by two other people also trying to photograph the sunset before they moved along to the other side of the parking lot.

We returned to campus shortly after which out much fanfare or additional adventures. I was totally drained from the exciting day and there wasn’t much more time left tonight to really get a good chunk of painting done (without staying up until 2am), so I just touched up the currently dripping rain painting, and then I went to the main building across the courtyard to get some laundry washed and dried, and then I was in bed by 11pm.

Truro Art Residency: Day 8 (Mon)

This morning I was up early and in the studio by 8:30am. I immediately went to the painting I started the night before to see how far the drips had fallen. Over all, the drips seemed to have moved quite nicely, so the touch-ups to the blending of dots and drips didn’t require very much in the first pass. I also set up a new big blank canvas on an easel, ready to be painted. And the shirt I wore today matched this painting.

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As far as what I was going to paint, I was at a loss. I knew that I wanted to again work and rework using Browns and Sienna’s and umbers, but I wasn’t sure what kind of composition or painting content would work best, without doing the same thing over and over, like the previous 2 brown-and-blue paintings I’ve done. I started first toning the canvas with Prussian blue, and hoped that some sort of idea would come to me if I started just working in this manner.

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I took a phone call from Tammy, the artist with whom I’m collaborating on these paintings for our June Italy show. We discussed various things related to her gallery’s grand opening happening the weekend of May 10th. I planned to fly down for the weekend to be present as one of the featured artists. I took a break from painting to make sure that my flight was booked before ticket prices went way up.

After talked to Tammy, I actually had an idea of what to paint: a waterfall amongst a rocky mountain landscape. The rocks would be assorted grays and browns, and the waterfall and pool below would have some blue to it. I immediately got to work plotting the lines for this painting, adding in the underpainting, and starting to apply dots in all the colors just described.

I reached a point in working on this painting that I needed to walk away and take a break from it for a little bit. I had recently heard that the employee strike of Stop & Shop was over as of last night, when both parties agreed to terms that satisfied the demands of the strike. I needed to go get some groceries and vegetables, so I drove to Provincetown to the Stop & Shop supermarket there. I didn’t realize just how strange it was to see a full contingent of cars in the parking lot, since it had been empty during the strike for almost 2 weeks. Walking into the store, seeing people going about their own shopping business was also a little surreal. People seemed to be happy it was open, and I think the the employees were also happy to be back at work under better conditions. Even though the store was open and the strike over,much of the produce shelves were still bare. Today was also the very first day after the strike, so the shipments must not have started just yet of replenishing the contents of the fresher items.

After Stop & Shop I drove around the scenic route, taking in some of the rainy ocean moods. It had been raining pretty much all day. I drove down Commercial Street, but didn’t park and get out so that I didn’t get distracted and not return to the studio in time to finish the painting. I did, however, drive around noting just how foggy it was out, so foggy that the top of the Pilgrim Monument couldn’t be seen through the mist. On the drive to the residency I stopped at Savory & Sweet to get a pesto turkey caprice panini for a late lunch, since I had painted straight through my usual launch time. I worked diligently on filling in more varied dots and daubs on my current plan for a waterfall on the rocks until around 5:30pm.

Around that time Martha and Patty and I all went to Mews, a coffee shop and restaurant in P-Town featuring an open mic night tonight, so we wanted to get there early to claim some bar seats, since some of the other ones required reservations. When we arrived (after walking in the rain), we saw that even the bar seating had been reserved by others.. I thought that bar seating was always open at most establishments. The host saw us awkwardly decide what to do, so he offered us the ability to sit at the reserved bar seats only until the reserved people arrived, at 7pm and it was around 6pm at this time. So we agreed to sit to get one cocktail and Mail see the opening act, and then head home, so we ordered our drinks and enjoyed this brief time at the bar before the open mix started.

Eventually, the people whose reserved seats we were in arrived, and we were displaced to a standing only section, with 2 bar seats stationed at a shelf instead of a table. We agreed that two of us could sit at a time and then we’d rotate who got to stand. The acts started assembling, and we were able to watch a couple good guitar and song acts perform.

One lady at table nearby saw us awkwardly in the corner and let us know that she and her husband would be leaving and that we should take their table. We gratefully obliged, taking the table and grateful for  a better surface to rest on. I ordered the pesto pasta for dinner, with the plan to take most of it home for later meals. There was one act by a couple of guys, one on guitar and one on mandolin in which the instrumental harmony sounded awesome, but the vocals were a little subpar. Then one of them stayed up for a standup comedy routine, which amounted to few laughs about his perception of backflips. Then a brief intermission ensued while the main act assembled their set. We stayed for their first song, which was a jazzy bit of trombone, saxophone and percussion and guitar. We left around 8:30 so that we could still get some late minute work done in the studio.

I worked a bit more on this painting upon returning home, and then rained the painting before going to sleep by midnight, which was a big achievement for me during this particular residency where my usual bedtime has been around 1pm.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 7 (Sun)

I awoke early at 5am this morning, woken up by the need to use the restroom. Since I had gone to sleep much later than I wanted last night (because as I went to take my before-bedtime shower, I noticed some black stuff coming up through the shower drain, and then had to deal with that whole situation, throwing off my anticipated bedtime), so I went back to sleep until 9:30am. Then I sprung up realizing that I had to get ready and also touch up last night’s new painting before Martha and I headed off to Easter Sunday Brunch at 10:30. I knew I wouldn’t have time to start a whole new painting, but I did touch up my existing painting, after examining how the drips turned out from moving overnight. I was overall pleased with the outcome.

Martha and I met up and drove to PTown to have Easter brunch at Fanizzi’s Ristorante, an Italian place right on the water that apparently had a broad Sunday brunch every Sunday, but an especially extended gamut for the Easter holiday. When we arrived around 10:45 the hostess asked if we had a reservation (which we didn’t), and she said that all the tables were booked up, with no open reservations until 1:00pm. She said she could let us know if someone didn’t show up for their reservation or if we wanted to put our name down for the 1pm slot. We were disappointed, because we had both skipped a normal breakfast and coffee/tea to be able to save our appetite for brunch at this place. We conferred and said to hold our 1pm reservation here because we were both really looking forward to it. But since we were both still so hungry, we got in the car and decided to go to the Purple Feather (which would be my 3rd time this week) to see what they had for a light breakfast while we dallied our time before our 1pm reservation.

There was zero wait for a table at Purple Feather, since I guess everyone else in town was already in line at Fanizzi’s. We got a table right away, as we were only the second party to arrive in the whole place. We ordered coffee and tea and agreed on trying the pancakes, with Martha getting the blueberry and me getting the chocolate chip pancakes. I ordered a mimosa just for our trouble. The service was prompt, and the fare was delicious. The Purple Feather pancakes pass my quality standards of approval as far as pancakes go. While we were ordering our breakfast, I got a call from Fanizzi’s saying someone dropped their reservation and if we would like to take it, say around 11:30am. By then we had already ordered our coffee and were in process of ordering the pancakes, so we declined the sooner reservation and instead opted to keep the original 1pm later reservation.

We still had about an hour or two left after finishing first brunch (as we referred to it), so we went to the Artist Loft art supplies store in town, and I bought some 18×24 canvases, and Martha got some paint. I also was distracted by a couple of extra large bristle brushes, which would be perfect to upgrade the size brushes that I currently use on my rain painting smear technique. Then we walked around town a bit, stopping into a boho-chic shop, a souvenir shop, a jewelry shop.

To fill in the time, we also stopped over at the little jetty by the has-been Provincetown Inn, noticing that at this time the water was at high tide, and the marshes looked a bit different with water filling in the estuaries, rather than the mud and muck of low tide. We snapped photos of the marsh and water, and took a rainy selfie together, as it had just started to rain lightly.

By then it was around 12:45pm, so we started making our way towards Fanizzi’s to arrive in time not to lose our reservation. We parked and walked and made it in the doors right at 12:59. We could barely walk in the door and narrow waiting room hallway because there were so many people lined up, waiting for their turn at Easter brunch. The hostess asked if we wanted an immediate open table or to wait for a table for two by the window: by this point we had been waiting so long and were still digesting a bit from our first brunch that waiting wasn’t much of an issue this time around. We waited maybe an extra 20 minutes and then the hostess brought us to a quaint little table, right next to the window, which was literally overlooking the water! We both ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the incredible view, snapping photos and taking it all in. Our waitress came and gave us the low-down on the brunch buffet options.

We went up to the brunch buffet –which is up stairs, down a long corridor, and through another wing– and surveyed our options. They really make you work for your brunch! We each made our decisions to go with more egg-based protein options over the french toast and pancakes (although I took one triangle of french toast just to sample how it was). The selection was broad and it could be easy to be paralyzed by so many options. We each chose a few and brought our plates back to the table to eat. We conversed and laughed and observed the sea birds and ducks directly outside of our window’s view. Our waitress came over to ask if we wanted anything to drink, so we picked a pretty pink goblet looking drink that we saw people having a few tables down. As it turns out, the cocktail is simply sparkling prosecco and crushed strawberries. We gave a light toast to our first- and second-brunching experience. Side note: I tried eating Eggs Benedict for the first time ever — they were pretty good! What have I been missing out on? We each ended up going up after a little bit for half of a second plate that we ended up using take-out boxes to take home.

Before heading directly back to campus we stopped at Angel Foods Market, a small boutique market and bodega with organic and locally sourced speciality foods, along with a coffee bar and deli counter. We got what we needed and then was tempted by the amazing aroma of freshly ground coffee, so we each got a coffee to go. I almost forgot to mention that we also stopped into a couple of galleries that we open on this quiet Sunday morning, checking out some interesting contemporary artists’ work. We returned to the car and drove back to the residency campus, coffee and new art supplies in hand. I returned to my studio, where my studio mate still had not yet returned from visiting friends or family for the Easter holiday, so I blasted my own music to be played around the studio without the need for wired earphones or bluetooth earbuds. I looked around at the blank and in-progress canvases and got to work art-ing.

It was around 3:30/4pm by around the time we returned to the studio, so when I was tempted to start in on a large (30×40) canvas, my logic returned to remind me that starting and raining an 18×24 canvas this evening/night was much more practical and achievable. I wired up a canvas of that smaller size and placed it on the new H-frame easels that the program director had brought up to my studio the day before, adjusting the easel to make sure the canvas shelf was level and even, etc. I decided that I needed a brief break from working in neutral browns and umbers to take a color burst departure into blues and greens. I set up my computer on a stool so that I could view my reference image, inspired from a photo taken from the dock by where we had brunch this afternoon. I placed a clear vinyl tablecloth over the stool with my computer, so as to protect it from paint splatters as I began work on the painting. I also decided that it would be nifty if I could record a time-lapse photo of this painting process from beginning underpainting to the raining technique applied. I took my guerrilla tripod, a flexible three-prong cell phone tripod and affixed it to the top mast of a yet-unused easel and adjusted it to an angle so that the paint application, canvas, and artist could all easily be filmed from the jerry-rigged apparatus.

I first covered the canvas all over in green-blue tone before I applied the first paint strokes of a roughly smooth horizon line, much like how an open ocean horizon would look from shore or from a boat at the opening of the bay out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Then I mixed up a whole bunch of blues and greens and blue-greens to apply as thick paint daubs to the canvas, working vigorously over the next several hours to get all these variations of ocean colors and sky colors applied. Then in one fall swoop I started applying the “rain method” to m painting, drizzling it in stand oil followed by pressured vertical strokes from top to bottom of the painting, mixing the dragging the oil paint colors behind it on the canvas. Once I applied this rain method I used a big brush to help smooth out the initial drips so that they get a solid start before they drip all over the canvas. You can see the time-lapse video here (below):


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After applying this first phase of starting drips, I took some time to clean out some of the oil paint bristle and synthetic brushes that I’ve used over the last couple weeks, to ensure that the last week of my art residency would be accomplished using clean brushes without weeks’ worth of paint gunk still on them. After I washed my brushes I walked down to the print shop where artists Martha and Sarah were sharing studio space. We had agreed to gather to share chocolate and bread and wine to unwind from a long day, despite it being a holiday. We had a fun time just laughing and talking and exchanging stories of our adventures around Provincetown and Truro, including talking about baby squirrel rescues, coyote-wolf sightings, turkey troubles, and more. We sat and chatted and laughed for maybe an hour or two, then I returned to my studio to give this blue-green ocean-sky painting one last once-over feathering and blending of drips before heading to sleep. My goal tomorrow is to start a large (30×40) painting in the morning so that I’ll have all morning and afternoon to apply the meticulous paint daubs and dots, and then have the evening and night to apply the rain effect, so that I can hopefully get to bed before midnight (that’s my new goal).

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 6 (Sat)

I can’t believe that it’s already Saturday! By my calculation I have just 6.5 days left here! This is right around my halfway point — this residency is already flying by!

This morning I woke up at 6am because I had to use the restroom, but that felt too early to officially get up, so I set my alarm for another 2 hours and got up to shower and start my day around 9am. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to pursue today. I went to the studio to brush up the first two paintings and to wire up a third. Around 11am I decided I would go to PTown to get a few things at the hardware store. As I was working up in my studio everything felt really humid and clammy. When I walked outside it was breezy and cool, so I needed to pick up a studio fan just to keep air moving, along with a few supplies needed. Before I left I took a brief walk around some of the fields of the property, visiting in with the other studio in the print shop on campus.

I parked on Commercial Street and went first to The Purple Feather since it was a nice day and I had already had lunch at the farm, but I hadn’t yet tried the gelato that I saw that they had the other day. I ordered the chocolate salted caramel swirl gelato. I went and found a chair on the outside patio to enjoy this treat. Also out on the patio was a couple with a golden retriever and what looked to be a black lab. The goldie was totally calm, very chill as all these people and other dogs walked past. The black lab, not so much. A puppy, it kept wanting to sniff and follow each person and canine that walked past him. The couple kept the dogs close on their leashes, trying to just keep the young one calmed down. We chatted briefly about their dogs and travel. They said they were originally from York, PA. I said that I had just stayed in that town 2 weeks ago on our drive up from North Carolina, what a small world!

I stopped into the TrueValue hardware store just across the street and got a few things that I needed, put them in the car, and then kept walking. I noticed that at TrueValue, there were stuffed chickens sitting on the BBQ grills for sale. Interesting. I continued walking down Commercial Street, noting the quaintness of everything.

I didn’t really have an agenda, it was just a nice Saturday afternoon and it seemed like the village was finally coming alive with crowds and crowds of people. I went to a coffeeshop called The Wired Puppy and ordered an ice blended chai, sitting and doing some people watching while I was there.

I continued my afternoon stroll, ducking into galleries that were finally open, along with shops and stores, seeing what they had and getting a better sense of the retail in the town. At the Four Eleven Gallery, I met and chatted with a Provincetown artist that I had met on a few occasions from visiting residency artists and from my own last residency in Truro. We talked about her artwork and commisserated on the artist’s struggles in life. She was very pleasant and wonderful to talk to. She even offered me a band-aid for a small scrape that I had on my hand. She asked me about my work and checked out my website for a little bit,  giving her impressions of my work. It’s always nice to talk with another artist. She said she’d come to the open studios this coming Thursday afternoon.

I realized that it was getting towards late afternoon and my earlier bowl of cereal just wasn’t cutting it, so I went to Box Lunch and ordered a chicken pesto “rollwich,” their version of a pita wrap. Just as I was sitting by a patio table eating my late lunch, it started sprinkling rain. It had been threatening to rain for most of the day, with gray skies and turbulent seas, but nothing so far. Of course the rain would come just as I sat down outside to eat my wrap.

I returned to the studio, a bit refreshed from my afternoon jaunt. I put on my apron and wired up another canvas. Right around then Kate, the program director, arrived at the studio with two metal H-frame easels, in response to my inquiry if they had them on hand. I already had few other easels, but noticed that their setup left the paintings vulnerable to falling off when I was aggressively applying the dots in a drum-like motion. I set up gutters and hanging wires for a 30×40 blank canvas, and another smaller 16×20 canvas for me to work on tonight.

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I wanted to work on a smaller canvas today because it was a little more achievable in one day, and because the last painting I created had an unexpected result from not raining the painting before going to sleep for the night. I started mixing up variations on browns, umbers and sienas, intending to re-do a variation on last night’s painting composition but with far less upper gray to overpower the canvas upon dripping overnight. I went with a simpler sort of gradient of brown, red and ochre mountains receding into the distance.

I took a brief dinner break to talk to my parents on the phone and check in with their dog. I also looked up and booked up train tickets from Rome to Florence and back for our trip to Italy this summer to attend the 2 person art exhibition that I’m working towards. Once those were all set, I continued applying dots to the canvas. At some point Martha visited my studio and we chatted a bit, realizing that the other two artists had gone to stay with friends or family for the Easter holiday, leaving us as the last two artists on campus, so we made a plan to do Easter Sunday brunch tomorrow late morning.

Eventually I got to a point where I finished applying dots and moved onto dripping stando oil all over the canvas to lube it up for the rain technique, and then I used a broad brush and dipped it in the stand oil and used it to apply pressure from top to bottom of each section of the painting. I left it to drip overnight while I wrote up my day’s blog post, then I checked on the painting one last time before leaving the studio to go to sleep. Tomorrow’s plan included starting a new 30×40 painting in the morning before we head out for brunch.

 

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 5 (Fri)

This morning I woke up brightly around 7am and worked on finishing the blog posts from the day before, so that I could add photos and proofread and then post before 8:30am. I got most of this accomplished using my tablet from the comfort of my bedroom. I was even texting on and off with an early-rising art friend who recommended that I get to know one of her good friends who is also at this residency for the same period of time. She connected us via text message, so Martha and I put together a game plan to go get lunch and art supplies in Provincetown this afternoon.

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After I uploaded images and the final text to my blog post from the wordpress app on my tablet, I decided I would take an alternate approach to reformatting the layout of images in the article via using the program using a web browser on the tablet (as my laptop was still upstairs in the studio, and I was still too comfortable in my bed to go up and get it). But when I logged in to my website using the browser, it appeared that anything that I had written or photos I had uploaded to that blog post had disappeared, been deleted, vanished. I went back to the app, and it appeared the same — everything I had just spent an hour doing was now gone. Frustrated, and also succumbing just to a wave of lethargy, I rolled over in my bed, pulled the covered over me, and went back to sleep until almost 11am.

Eventually my body decided that it had gotten enough of this extra slumber and decided to wake me with the need to use the bathroom. At that point I was up and showered and got ready for the day. I went up to the studio and took a look at my undripped pointlism painting in earth tones from the day before, and used this moment to generously drizzle stand oil over everything, followed by repeatedly dipping my brush in stand oil and dragging it down the canvas, cleaning it, rinse and repeat. It was iffy as to exactly how the drips would result, but I couldn’t stay around for much longer because then I had made a plan to meet Martha, another artist in residence here whom my friend told me to connect with, so that we could go get lunch and art supplies in P-town around 1pm.

 

We met in the parking lot and drove to Provincetown, deciding to do lunch first and art shopping later, since we were both already hungry by then. I took us to The Purple Feather, a favorite spot that I’ve always tried to stop at ever since my husband and I first discovered it on our one-year anniversary trip to Provincetown many years ago. The place was busy, and the cafe smelled like brunch, like waffles or maple syrup or something, so we debated between whether we should choose breakfast or lunch foods, but then the waitress helped us with that decision by letting us know that they were no longer serving breakfast for the day, so we each chose paninis, mine with a side of their amazing famous mac ‘n’ cheese, and Martha’s with a side of New England Clam Chowdah.

While we waited for our meal we got to know a little more about one another’s artwork, family, life, residencies, and more. The food came and it was really delicious. Just as we were about to receive the bill, I reached for my cell phone in my pocket, which has a wallet in the phone case containing credit/debit cards, to pay my part of the bill. Then I realized that my phone wasn’t inside my pocket, so I frantically searched my purse. It wasn’t in there either. Embarrassed and slightly frantic, I thought maybe I accidentally left my phone back at the studio, charging. Martha graciously offered to pay for lunch this round, and I promised I would pay here back once we returned and I had my phone (and cards) in my possession again. I got a to-go box for the remainder of my mac ‘n’ cheese, and we walked back to the car to put the boxed meal in the car while we stroll the “downtown” area of shops, etc. When I opened the front driver’s side door, there was my cell phone, on the floor mat, almost under the seat! What a relief to have my phone and cards back where they belong! Also, now I could pay back Martha for her generosity.

 

We spent the afternoon walking down Commercial Street and back, popping into shops and stores, checking out the little strip of beach behind some of the shops, getting a coffee. We ducked into a Portuguese bakery to get some sweet bread, a popular choice around Easter. When I had driven through last night, everything seemed really quiet, even vacant. Today there were hordes more people out with their dogs, families, significant others. It was April vacation week for local school districts, so there were kids out with their parents and pets. We stopped into a gallery or two to check out what they had on exhibit. The local military surplus store had a surprising variety of just random stuff: camping tools, sweatshirts, old license plates organized by state, seashells, wooden swords (I was really tempted to get one of these).

We stopped at a little coffeeshop and it smelled so good in there. We each got a coffee (mine was cold-brew New Orleans blend, Martha’s was hot pour-over coffee), sat and watched the ocean for a bit talking about life and society. We eventually decided to head back in the direction we came, after coming to the relative end of the boutiquey sections of commercial street before it changed over to residential and seaside resorts. Eventually we made it to the Artist Loft, the only art supply store this side of the Upper Cape, and it’s only open on Fridays through Sundays for April (their winter hours). I got a whole mess of stuff to work with: canvas, tools for encaustic class, more hues of ochre and sienna based oil paints, and some sturdy wide bristle and synthetic brushes I found.

After we got our supplies from the art store, we headed back to the car to return to Edgewood Farm, our residency “home.” We took the long route back, including going to the very far tip of P-town where there’s a jetty you can walk over by the Provincetown Inn, an old conference center and hotel.

We took a couple side roads and scenic routes on our way back, doing what felt like potential off-roading into narrow sand-and-grass roads to find a good vantage point to see the dunes. We passed by quite a few secluded and off-season summer homes, and went down one road that was too narrow with twigs and branches and just a little too sandy to try driving on in the lowest gear possible for my road trip. There was one part of the trail that felt a bit like an enchanted forest, the way the trees formed a tunnel around our car. We did get some good photos though!

While we were driving along these roads, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement that looked like some animal. I stopped the car and we looked a little closer (from the car windows) at what looked like some kind of wolf, coyote or gray fox (is that a thing?) It looked to be about the size of a large dog or slightly bigger, and it observed us very carefully, not approaching just watching, and then it stretched out, curled up to itch its hind quarters, and then snuck off into the nearby woods. Which canine do you think it was? I wish I had my better camera to zoom in a bit to get a better look.

One our way back we passed by Savory & Sweet Escape and Martha had never been in there, so we had to stop to show her what it’s all about. We each got a small baked good that we ate in the car (she a cupcake, me a small canoli), and then headed back towards the farm. We took a brief detour to see what “Pilgrim Point” was all about, reading a couple of the historical interpretive panels, wondering at some of the content. On one part of the panel showed a map that the original Pilgrims allegedly travelled in their first, second, and third trips to and around Provincetown. On a few sections of the map it showed a line that looked like either someone was fighting over the ship’s helm, or someone steering the Mayflower maybe had a bit too much rum at the rudder. I also wondered how could we possibly know the exact zig-zag patterns they took on that trip on those specific patches of sea and harbor?

Eventually we did end up returning to the farm, where we parted ways to each go put our spoils back in our respective rooms and studios. We agreed that we had a great afternoon adventure now and were glad to have made the connection with one another. Now we had to return back to the studio and maybe actually try to get some artwork done. Going on this short adventure thought helped me to return to the studio and get focused on finding out what happened to the second painting that I had just started dripping this morning, to see just how far the drips had gone in the last 3-5 hours unattended.

The drips were a little chunkier than I was happy about, which I had almost forgotten can sometimes happen if I wait until the morning to apply the rain technique because part of the paint dries slightly overnight. So I took my fan brush and worked on fanning out some of the drips and smoothing out others. I was a little overwhelmed with just how far the top gray had covered up some of the copper-sienna colors below, so I tried to unbury some of those colors, along with trying to uncover some of the “river” part that had been obscured by the colors that dripped over it. I also touched up the red painting a bit.

I went downstairs to reheat some dinner and bring it upstairs to work on my computer while eating, but I saw fellow artist and studio mate Patty eating dinner by herself at the dining room table, so I asked her if I could join, and she nodded. I’m so glad that did this instead of me just eating my pizza in front of my computer. She ended up sharing some wine with me and we ended up talking for about the next two hours! We talked everything from art process, to masters degrees pros and cons, career, websites, marketing, other art residencies, caretaking for spouses, art critiques, mentors, funny college stories, and more.

 

It was such a pleasure and soul-filling to sit down and have an authentic conversation over a glass of wine about art and life. It was also really lovely to earlier spend quality one-on-one adventuring time with Martha. I had begun feeling like some component was missing this time from last time I was here in Truro:  authentic conversation and sense of discovery with my fellow artists. I had passed some of the other artists briefly in the kitchen or at a meeting, but we each otherwise were just keeping to ourselves and to our studios, so to share two meals today with two different artists was very gratifying for my artist spirit. I hope that we have more of these throughout the remaining week that I have here.

After dinner with Patty, it was pretty late, but I returned briefly to the paintings on the easels doing one last brief touch-up before wrapping up my studio time for the day, putting covers on my paints and Gamsol containers, and heading to sleep.

 

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 4 (Thu)

Today I woke up early at 7am and rolled out of bed by 7:30, and was up in the studio by by 8am. I made my tea and some cereal while I touched up yesterday’s blog posts to publish this morning.

I checked in on the painting that I created last night, to see how the drips had fallen. I was relatively pleased to see that the drips had resulted in places on the canvas that relatively worked with my master plan, but there were other places on the canvas that the drips left too much of the background dots exposed. So I picked up my paintbrush and used it to add some more paint to those areas and to smooth out and blend up and down the drips all over the painting.

Then took another blank canvas, so that I can start a new painting. so I worked on affixing hanging wire to the back of the canvas and then I set up a means of hanging them. Then I set up a new triple rain gutter for use under the new second canvas.

I took a lunch break and sat on a bench outside overlooking the woods, taking in the sun and breeze and to get some fresh air outside of the studio. I noticed a little building off in the woods, I’m not sure what it was but it made for a cool photo. Then I went back in to get ready to start putting paint on the new second canvas. For this painting, I chose a color palette that is a bit outside my comfort zone: for most of my rainy paintings I use color to portray the season or landscape chosen for the artwork, but this one started with all grays and browns. As I’m working towards creating several paintings that respond in color or composition to the artwork of Tammy Tappan, who I’ll be co-exhibiting with at a show in Italy in June. Tammy’s general color palette tends to be much more earthy tones of grays and browns and umbers and siennas, with little selective pops of blue or orange here and there. While I am looking at one or two of her works for this painting of mine, I have a feeling that this one is just a warmup to using these tones a bit more in my responsive work to hers.

I mixed up a variety of greys into umbers into browns with more of a copper or reddish undertone to them, to yellow ochre and a muted yellow. As I started putting the earthy toned colors on my canvas, I didn’t really have an idea of what I was going to paint. I rather let my brush roll loosely over the canvas, coming up with some loose mountains feeling, and then as I put more and more colors an daubs on the underpainting, the forms of receding mountains, with the the slightest hint of a blue river running through them, but not as the center all focal point, just running off to the side minding its own business.

I took a dinner break to reheat some pizza from a couple days ago, and continued painting. At some point in painting this composition I was just feeling stuck, with a little mix of cabin fever. So I decided to just take a drive to Provincetown, not really with any agenda, just to get out of the studio, get a change of scenery, fresh air, etc. I drove along Route 6 until there was a turn for Route 6A, which ran more along the coast and some of the beach resorts were along that route. I pulled over at one point where there were a little outcropping that I could get a 360 view of the marsh, so that’s what I did, along with snapping a few photos. Then I got back in the car and drove down along Commercial Street, which was relatively quiet with only a handful of people walking the sidewalks and most of the shops and galleries still closed for the winter season. I continued on to return back to the Edgewood Farm campus. Along the way I stopped at Savory & Sweet Escape, one of few food places nearby that was open. I went in and viewed their extensive pastry case, and decided that the peanut butter mousse pie was calling my name. True to form, the pie was utterly amazing, the perfect light and smooth peanut butter mousse that I had hoped it would be, and it’s a sort of mini-pie, so I can have a little bit of it over the course of a few days instead of one sitting (thought that may have been tempting).

This is the beautiful peanut butter mousse mini pie from Savory and Sweet Escape

Returning back to the studio, I felt refreshed and ready to take on the painting that I had started. Now the flow of painting came back and I was in a groove for a while, getting a lot accomplished. I was just about to the point where I would have started making the painting rain as my last act for the night (it was around 11pm), but my eyes were getting really watery and foggy, making it difficult to keep them over just to finish the pointillism part of the painting. So I thought this was my body telling me that it’s more important that I get to sleep, rather than trying to force the next rain technique phase of the painting. I will instead apply the rain effect to this painting in the morning, as the oil painting should still be wet enough to still glide along the canvas with the stand oil.

I applied one last swift blending all along the first red rainy painting, and then turned in to bed for the night.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 2 (Tue)

I got the best night’s sleep in a long time last night. As I awoke, the rising sun flooded my cozy room with morning light through the blinds. If my alarm clock didn’t wake me up, the sunlight would. For the duration of my art residency here in Truro I’ll be staying in the Joyce Johnson Bedroom, I’m guessing is named for a donor or significant person in Edgewood Farm’s development. This room is small but cozy-comfortable. There is a full/queen-size bed, two windows, a wall shelving unit, bureau, two night-tables with lamps, a chair, and a closet. I kind of wish that there was space enough for a small desk & chair, but I’ll use the tables up in my studio for that kind of thing.

After I woke and showered and made my morning tea, we had a 9am meeting in the living room of the barn where I was staying. This meeting was with the two new people who had just arrived the day before (Martha and me), along with Cherie and Kate (Cherie is the executive director of castle hill center for the arts Truro, and Kate is the program director for Edgewood Farm). Over coffee and pastries we talked about the history of the farm and organization, some housekeeping and logistics, and some happenings to know about during our stay here.

After the meeting I needed to run into town to pick up an assorted array of forgotten items that I realized that I needed for my residency, both for just personal living and supplies I needed for my studio practice. While I was out, I planned to stop at a Walmart or Target in Orleans, the next biggest town around here, about a half-hour drive away. While I was around the city, I noticed ahead of me was a rainbow leopard-print mini-bus with the label “The Funk Bus” on it! It was so out of sort with the historic charm of the rest of the village. What my Google Maps plotted was not a Walmart but a Shaws, a New England grocery chain. I was able to get most of the food and odds-and-ends I needed from there. As I drove away, I noticed a TJ Maxx, which would be probably the closest to the clothing/shoe supplies that I needed to purchase. I found what I needed there, and noticed that the store was next door to a Stop & Shop, another New England grocery store chain that was recently in the news for the workers being on strike for better wages and working conditions. I drove by just to see what the status was on the store, noticing a practically empty parking lot, and employees picketing in front of the the store. I also recalled that my shopping errands at Shaw’s were much busier than usual, as a result of shoppers avoiding Stop & Shop.

After that, it was around lunchtime so I stopped at Homeport Restaurant, a diner favorite the last time I stayed in Truro. The reason that I liked this diner so much was that it had like 6-10 different ways of making french toast. While I’m usually more of a pancake girl than french toast, I couldn’t argue with these many ways to make french toast. So in the end, I went with the cinnamon croissant french toast, with the apple crisp topping from another french toast option, since the menu says “all special requests honored.” It was just as delicious as I had anticipated. Also, sidenote, if you use the restroom there, it’s covered in hand-painted ocean murals.

I headed back to the farm after finishing up lunch. When I returned, I worked on finishing up my new suite of websites for my creative endeavor, Rachel Brask Studio, LLC. I still needed to finishing setting up the details before I could go live. This is several months in the making, and one of my goals during this residency was to take any dead time that I couldn’t yet get into painting and put it into finishing up these websites and link them together. Since I knew I’d be leaving the studio again for a long time this evening, I only had about an hour or two, and with just such little time it’s hard to start getting into a painting routine just yet.

 

Today is our wedding anniversary, but my husband and I are both about 2 hours apart today, as I am at my art residency, and he has just started a brand new fulltime job within the last 3 days. It was a long shot, but we agreed to each drive about one hour and meet in the middle for dinner tonight. I also left a backpack with some important belongings back home, so he agreed to bring it with him when we meet up. I left around 5:15pm because I needed to give myself another half-hour to stop in Hyannis at Michael’s to get some wood panels for an encaustic workshop that I’ll be participating in tomorrow at the residency. This is when the unlikely adventure begins.

 

As I was walking into the Michael’s main door, I noticed a man on the phone outside the front entrance. My interest was intrigued when I heard him say that he had a baby squirrel on his foot and he didn’t know what to do with it. I briefly looked down towards his foot as I passed and saw the adorable baby squirrel. I turned around and walked back to see what the guy was talking about. We chatted for a minute or two as he explained that the baby squirrel seemed lost and just came up to him, probably hungry or something. He walked over to the mulch to try to drop the baby from his foot, as he was supposed to meet his wife somewhere shortly. Once the baby squirrel was on the ground, he started scurrying around, still looking and moving towards us on the sidewalk. Once we got far enough away that he stopped chasing us, we observed the baby squirrel start climbing up the stucco walls of the Michael’s building, like spiderman, so for the purposes of this blog I’m going to call him Spidey Squirrel.

Spidey then found himself a small architectural ledge, and he seemed like he felt stuck up there, squeaking and crying the most pitiful and yet cute baby squirrel squeal. By now a small group of people had assembled, all concerned for the baby squirrel. Now we were getting afraid that it looked like the baby was losing its foothold a few times, as we feared he would fall. I volunteered to run inside to get a crate and some soft fleece yarn, which I quickly unwrapped and laid it around inside the crate, hoping to use this soft box device to catch Spidey if he fell. When I got back outside the building with this crate, the folks there informed us that he had already fallen, after climbing up even higher on the building’s facade, almost to the top of the roofline, which looked to mean he fell 30-40 feet!

It looked like Spidey was avoiding putting any weight on his back left leg as he scurried around the ground, towards the original guy. So we got the guy to have get the squirrel into the little crate of soft yarn off of his boot. Once he was in, he moved around a bit as he looked like he was nesting to find a nice place to settle. Then the yarn stopped moving, so we were a little worried that maybe he wasn’t doing so well. So then we moved the yarn a little with a stick to reveal that little baby Spidey was all balled up. As we moved yarn to reveal him, he reached out with his little forepaw to pull the yarn back over him, like a human pulling the covers back over their head sleeping in on a Saturday morning. He seemed like he was warm now, and didn’t seem eager to run away or scale any buildings again.

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By this time it was just me and a young married couple who were super concerned that the little squirrel wasn’t just left out here with an injured leg that would keep it from surviving the long game, so we each used our smartphones to google phone numbers of the Barnstable/Hyannis animal rescue but they weren’t answering their phone after hours. So then I called the Barnstable police station non-emergency number to see if they could contact someone. They said they would call some wildlife place called Natural Resources, and we hoped that they would call us back, but it was after hours. We continued to follow voicemail chains until we finally got a phone number for a wildlife rehabber who answered his phone after hours. By voicemail train I mean, “Welcome to Animal Place 1,  we’re not around after 4pm, so please call Animal Place 2.” Then Animal Place 2’s voicemail indicated to call Animal Place 3, then Animal Place 3’s voicemail said to call Animal Place 1.

SQUIRREL 4 PHOTOS

The wife was the one to call the phone number of the rehabber that finally picked up the phone. We got the address of their place where they could be taken to be looked after overnight and receive any care that Spidey needed. The couple volunteered to bring the crate of the baby squirrel in their car to transport it to the wildlife rehabber. I was so grateful that we finally found someone who would take little Spidey in, and grateful to this couple who stuck it out to make sure he was safe. We were all bonded by this experience of caring for this little baby squirrel. And that was the end of my unexpected adventure. On the drive to the restaurant where I was meeting my husband in Sandwich, MA, there was a really amazing sunset so I told Siri to take a photo. She didn’t do half bad.

 

I finally texted my husband to say that I would be about half an hour late by the time this whole squirrel debacle and that I would fill him in over dinner. I finally got to the restaurant in Sandwich, The British Beer Company, where we agreed to meet for our anniversary dinner. It was good to see him after just 2 days apart from our roadtrip up from NC, but I was so amped up from the baby squirrel rescue attempts that I probably wasn’t the best to keep company with at the time. Once I finally got some food and drink in my system, I finally calmed down, and we were able to have a pleasant dinner.

It was 2 for 1 pizza night, so we hopped on the pizza bandwagon and each ordered a small pizza, but since they said that the pizzas would all take a long time, we ordered their giant pretzel and baked brie for appetizers just because they looked good, and they both were very, very good. The pretzel actually came out on a hanging rack, which I thought was pretty cool. We caught up about our days in the short time we’d been apart, with my husband catching me up on his experience the first few days at his new job. I filled him in on the baby squirrel adventure and how it was going the first couple days at my art residency. They finally brought the pizzas and they were very good as we ate a couple slices, but then we needed to box them to-go. We did, however, save some room to see what their fried cookie dough dessert was all about, so we shared dessert. It was definitely worth saving some room because it was very tasty. After dinner I got my backpack from home from my husband’s car, we said our goodbyes for the next 1.8 weeks, and I drove my hour back to Edgewood Farm.

 

 

Truro Art Residency 2019 : Day 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts that I’ll be sharing about my art process and adventures while on a two-week art residency in Truro, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod (or “The Cape” to New Englanders).

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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.