Taratories Blog

Lost: Wales Residency

My last full day in Corris was quite an adventure.  I packed up my studio and wanted to take a walk to the Craft Center in Upper Corris.  I had read about it before I came to Corris and I thought I would go see what it was all about in person.  I had instructions on how to get there from people in the house and it didn't seem that hard to get there.  Walk to the end of the road and make a sharp right, then you will get there...

I walked, and walked, and walked.  I never saw a sharp right.  It felt as though I was on a highway. Cars were flying by me and I had no place to walk besides the road in some parts.  I walked in the grass outside of the guard rail when I could.  I was very nervous that I was going to get hit, and started to feel nervous that I had also gone the wrong way.  

When I came to this waterfall and stream I just knew I had either gone too far or taken a wrong turn so I decided to just turn around and walk back the way I came.  Then it started to pour down rain.  I was SO GLAD that last minute I decided to throw my backpack on which had my umbrella in it.  Rain actually ended up benefitting me because I had a bright yellow umbrella which I waved to oncoming traffic to alert them of my presence on the road!  Somehow I felt a surge of confidence as I walked behind the thin yellow fabric.  I almost reached the town of Corris when Yuki, the volunteer at Maelor, pulled up in her van and rescued me!  She showed me where I made the mistake of veering to the left (which I felt at the time was a straight path) instead of turning right where I should have.  She dropped me at the door of the Craft Center and said she would wait a minute until I made sure it was open.  Sure enough it was CLOSED FOR THE SEASON!!  How ironic!  I was so glad she stayed and waited so I didn't have to walk back into town in the rain anymore.  What a day.  I was gone for hours!  We were laughing so hard at my stupidity!  

That night we all went out to the pub for dinner at Dolgellau which is a neighboring town.  It was so great to have a last hoorah before I left the next day and really made up for the wet wandering I did earlier.  The three of us resident artists were joined by Yuki, the volunteer, and Veronica and Mary who are owners and founders of Stiwdio Maelor.  

The next morning I took one last walk in the town and said "goodbye" to the local cow who has a huge bellowing "Moo" that I hear from Maelor every day.

I also said "hello" to some rams in a tractor who passed by.  I stood and thought to myself, "This is Wales."  I had to say goodbye to everything.  I went into each room in Maelor and thought of memories in each one.  Endings are so hard, but I was so excited to see my family as well which lessened the sting.  I have missed them so much!

I will have one last blog post for my residency that will tie it all up in a bow.  But until then, here are some detail shots of the last painting that I did in Wales.

Critique: Wales Residency

This last week we had two new resident artists come to stay.  The girl on the left is Michelle Loa Kum Cheung and the girl on the right is Jessica Raby.  

Jessica is currently getting her MA in Aberystwyth and is studying film.  She collects things from nature and isolates outside of their natural environment to film and photograph.  This is her in her studio filming a flower she picked around the area while here.

Michelle is a painter and uses a unique technique where she burns into wood and uses oil paint to paint around and inside her burnt drawings.  Right now she is doing a commission for a restaurant which is a tetraptych (painting that has four parts).  Go to Michellelkc.com to see more of her work.

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And there is me.  I focus mainly on using a combination of acrylic paints and colored pencils on canvas.  I have been enjoying exploring this mixed media technique more and more and have enjoyed focusing on people as my subjects. Since I have been in Wales I have been using Welsh folklore to tell stories in my paintings and I have had so much fun trying my hand at allegorical paintings!

This week we decided it would be fun to do a critique with each other in our studios.  I haven't done a critique since college and it was so fun to be a part of something like this again!  First we gathered in the attic and watched what Jessica had filmed so far on the projector.  

We loved the flower that she had filmed slowly spinning as it hung from her studio ceiling.  The light created beautiful shadows on it and I loved how mesmerizing it was to watch.  She talked about her work and we also took a look at some of her past films.  She appreciated our input and used it to help her plan out her direction for the rest of her stay here. If you want to see more of her work go to www.jess-raby.com.

Next we looked at what Michelle had painted so far on her panels and she talked about her process and how she got into pyrography.  She talked about what kind of subjects she paints and how she is drawn to landscapes but likes to play with scale in her paintings in a surrealistic way.

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The time came for my critique. I talked about my different paintings that I have painted in Wales and how I incorporated Welsh folklore into them. We talked about some of the commonalities that the paintings have with each other and the parts of the paintings that worked better than others.

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Discussing art with each other was so fun and we all benefitted so much from our discussions.  Here are a few more detail shots from another painting I did.

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Listen: Wales Residency

The last few days I have been glued to my canvas from morning until night.  I think knowing that my time is drawing to a close has given me an extra dose of motivation to use my time to my advantage.  I know that when I go home time to create will look very different.  I have painted 4 paintings and I am finishing up my 5th one now.  Having this kind of time to work has been amazing.  No distractions, no schedule.  The only sounds I hear are the footsteps of the other artists on the old wood floors, the jets flying low above Corris, the sound of kegs being hauled up from the basement of the pub next door by the owner and his sons, the chatter of people inside the pub at night, little children on the street running home from school, and my spotify playlist.  I will miss these sounds.  These will always be the sounds of Wales in my memory. What sounds have you heard today?

This pub is not like a typical bar in America.  There are Grannies in their sweaters, children, babies, families that hang out in there.  For Halloween yesterday they had a little disco for kids with games and hot dogs and candy!  They were so cute dressed up in their little costumes.  We had some trick-or-treaters knock on the door but we had nothing to offer them unfortunately.  

I am keeping my art to myself while I am here until a show that I will be having at the end of the month but I am going to start to sharing a few detail images on this blog and eventually I will show the full works in their entirety.  Here are a few details from one of my paintings that I did...

Passion: Wales Residency

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day working on my art.  Having this much time to do art is so strange and I love having the focused time to do it.  I love painting when inspiration comes, not just when I have time to do it.  Sometimes that means as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, and sometimes that means after I am already tucked into bed and decide that I just need to fix one thing or add a little something something.  

Every building has a name here and where I am staying is named Maelor.  Maelor is a border in north-east Wales and north-west England.  It used to be an old shop.  The window front is the owners studio, and there are 3 bedrooms and an attic that house visual artists and writers on residencies.  It is self funded and the artists are charged a small fee to stay there to cover utilities.

Here is my current palette that I have been working with.  Use your imagination to visualize what my art looks like...

Liz Doyle is another artist that is currently staying at Maelor in the attic.  Liz lives on an island in Ireland and has lived in so many different places. She is so interesting to talk to and I learn so much when I listen!  She is an abstract expressionist painter and it is so fun to watch her work... she really gets into it!  She works on canvas and uses a combination of oils and cold wax to paint with.  She scratches into the layers revealing the layers of paint underneath which creates a really beautiful effect!

Here are some of the paintings she has done while she has been here.  To view more of her works go to http://donegalliz.tumblr.com .

Yuki Aruga is another artist here and also a volunteer at Maelor.  Currently she is working on a commissioned drawing of penguins.  Her work is amazing and this drawing is made purely from a ballpoint pen!  She is highly detailed and doesn't miss a mark.

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Yuki has done so many interesting things in her life like flower installation and taxidermy.  Now she combines her love for flowers with animals in her highly detailed and exquisite oil paintings. Here are some of her most recent paintings but to see more of her work, go to http://www.yukiaruga.co.uk .

It has been so wonderful to be living with other artists and there is a real camaraderie between us.  Seeing others passionate about their art is so inspiring to me and makes me feel like I am not alone.  Talking to people that go through the same crazy thoughts as me is also very comforting.  

The old phrase "live to work" or "work to live" has been on my mind.  On one hand, I like the "work to live" concept because life is more important than your job and i feel like working is a means to living our lives.  But I feel like for the artist is the opposite.  It seems as though all artists "live to work" because our work is a part of us and we wouldn't be able to live if we couldn't work.  I know the times in my life when I wasn't able to work on art like I wanted to and had to put it on the back burner I felt like part of me was dying inside.  

What is your passion?  What drives you inside?  What are you living to do?

Confliction: Wales Residency

Today I spent most of the day in the studio except for my morning coffee at Adam and Andy’s when I blogged and researched.  I think that no time outside walking or with people was not a good idea.  Today was one of those days that seemed to be a little puzzle piece to my artistic journey.  Although nothing eventful happened today, I feel as though I had activity going on in my heart and in my brain that counted for something.  As I was working, I had thoughts that started to mess with me while I was working and threw me into a weird state. 

I find that there are parts about being an artist that can be quite challenging.  It is so hard to find the balance of doing what you love and being authentic and true to yourself in your art, and making art that other people with enjoy and ultimately end up buying.  Making art for art’s sake is something that I find is hard to do sometimes.  Usually I am working on a commissioned piece for a client and there is someone who has in a way already accepted it and has agreed to purchase it.  Doing art the way I am doing it in Wales is very different. 

I haven’t worked like this in a long time and it is a very vulnerable thing to do.  Art is so personal and there will only be a certain percentage of people that will get my work and appreciate it for what it is.  I am struggling with letting go of what people’s opinions will be and if I will ever sell any pieces that I work on.  I know that these are thoughts that I need to disregard while I am here because the whole point of this trip is not to make work that I will be guaranteed to sell or that people will like.  The point is doing art just for the sake of doing it and being true to myself.  If people like it, then great, but I know I shouldn’t worry about that right now.  It is a sacrifice of time with family, money, and extra work for my husband, and I want to know that what I am doing is worthy of all of it. This is self inflicted so I know that I just need to work through it and just do what I am called to do here and the rest will work itself out. I have been reading Proverbs while I am here and praying for wisdom.  I want to find wisdom in the way that I create while I am here and I know that the Lord is near and that He will guide me. I need to trust in that…