Artist Residence in Cornwall

                                                                                                                                                             

view outside the window where I painted

I hope all of you reading this are making it through this pandemic OK. I read through the first draft of this newsletter then thought – “nah, I’m going to tell it like it is”. I go through waves of sadness, grief and hope and those can all happen within a period of an hour. I realize (and give thanks often during my day) that I have it better than so many. In the beginning I thought that I would get a lot done and it started out well, with some effort put into rejuvenating my vegetable garden that I had not kept up for a few years and cleaning and sorting. I was initially excited to have more time to cook but I have to admit that has waned some. I’ve been looking into and refining some tech stuff but I have to admit it makes me want to crawl under the rug. I’m really just an old fashioned dinosaur who would rather just be in the studio painting. I’m staying in touch with friends on the phone and zoom but I can’t wait to be with my people in person as I imagine is the case for you. I try and make myself sit at the computer with the tech stuff but I wander…… I wander around the house, my property and through my mind. I get out in nature every day and that helps tremendously.

I love to teach and I’m great at it but I do truly love the “in person” . However, since we cannot be together yet I’ve put together some online classes and working on more. I’ve been thinking about who needs what in terms of who may have some painting experience and who is a beginner.

The shelter in place thing is not very different from my usual routine except for not seeing friends. I mentioned before that since my business is at home I am by default quite a hermit. The first time I got really into being alone for long periods of time was when I received a grant (twice- 3 years apart) to an artist residence in Cornwall England and  I was by myself for a month in the last house before the ocean complete with jagged cliffs and crashing waves outside my window. I didn’t have a vehicle so I would walk a mile or more through the cow pastures in the rain into town every couple days for supplies. There was no phone or internet as this was in 1990. So I was truly alone without ANY connection. It was beautiful and I got really used to the silence and isolation. I’d wander through the tiny house and stare out the window for hours.  I’d watch how the light changed my small space as the hours passed and days went by like minutes.  Occasionally I was lucky enough to be able to get reception on the teeny ancient TV (one station) and enjoyed simply listening to the British accents.  I think that it was during these times that I fine tuned my ability to be with no connection, to truly be with myself.  Most artists become used to this anyway, because making art is a solitary activity and in order for us to be able to see or hear what wants to come up from the inside there must be silence, stillness.

Above is one of the ancient stone circles I would hike to.  I used a tiny old map someone had  passed on to me and hiked through farmer’s fields to find these places.  During that time there were not so many people interested in visiting the old sites.  Some were very hard to find.  I wonder how the farmers must feel these days with hoards of people wanting to visit and how that is being handled.  When I did come upon someone in my searches for these spots they would ask why I would be interested in seeing a bunch of old stones.

Below are just a couple of paintings from that time. All of the paintings were done on site. One of them is oil pastel, the others are watercolor.  Stay well and I look forward to sharing more next time.
Melissa