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.

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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.

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 11 (Thur)

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

 

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, Day 9

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

 

Wednesday, Day 10

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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 


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

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 7 (Sunday)

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 5 (Fri)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 4 (Thur)

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

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 3 (Wed)

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

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 2 (Tues)

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

North Carolina Art Residency: Day 1 (Mon)

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