Friday, July 1, 2016

Getting Ready to Go

Potential art supplies to pack

I'm wondering what to pack for my artist residency at the Baer Art Center in Iceland that's coming up in a week.

It's the art supplies that are the problem really. What do I pack? What will I work on? How can I know? Do I limit myself in advance? It won't be easy to get more art supplies once I'm there.



 It's not only the opportunity to travel that I'm looking forward to, but to be allowed an entire month to spend on my painting and my writing is a huge gift. I like the freedom an artist residency allows me, to explore new ideas, new ways of working.

"We travel, initially to lose ourselves and we travel next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate", says Pico Iyer in his essay, "Why We Travel". "Yet for me", he goes on to say, "the first great joy of travelling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle."

Travel, with it's heightened levels of awareness, mindfulness, receptiveness, leaves us ready to be transformed.





Part of me wants to plan in advance what work I might do, and another part wants to be open to the experience of Iceland. It's difficult to choose what materials to take. I like the idea of working within some limitations. I had serious limitations placed on me after my recent eye surgery. I couldn't read for 2 weeks and for the first 3 weeks I had to hold my head up for 1/2 hr and then put my face down for 1/2 hr of every hour  to hold the gas bubble in place against my retina. I found that those limitations forced me to be creative in how I spent my time. 

Just as those medical limitations encouraged my creativity, I imagine that limiting myself to a certain size of paper or certain colours will encourage me to work in a different way on the residency.





Stephen Nachmanovitch, in his book, "Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art", says, "Sometimes we damn limits, but without them art is not possible. They provide us with something to work with and against.  In practising our craft we surrender, to a great extent, to letting the materials dictate the design. Limits yield intensity.  Working within the limits of the medium forces us to change our own limits.  Improvisation is not breaking with forms and limitations just to be 'free', but using them as the very means of transcending ourselves."


13 comments:

  1. Hi Janice. Again a lovely post. I wish you an inspiring residency and happy to know that your eyes have mended. I love the works that you have published. Your new thread? My best. Sylvia

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    1. Thanks Sylvia. These new works seem to be in preparation for Iceland. Who knows if they will continue!

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  2. As usual you give me brain food; I've been working against certain limits in my own practice; frustrated by change and not wanting to admit that this passage is difficult. We find a way, of course, even if that way requires retooling and changing ourselves instead of the circumstances. Thank you for this and have a wonderful time in Iceland finding your own "new way".

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  3. Thanks for your reply Judy.
    Sometimes a 'new way' happens only for a short time as I explore the new space, as though the way of painting was meant for a certain place and time.

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  4. I will be interested in seeing what you decide. I had trouble myself deciding how much direction to give myself before I left for a residency, and when I got there, it felt so different I wanted something to rely on! Have a wonderful, creative time.

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    1. HI Gail, I think I'll go with black and white acrylics and drawing materials. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  5. Hi Janice. Glad your eyes are better. Travelling is such a gift :)
    On the subject of limiting (resources/size etc) I have really enjoyed my limitations while here in SF. Started with just paper and charcoal and 3 oil pastels (blue, yellow, violet ) Then added 3 oil bars (blue, white, yellow) & 3 small tubes oil (red, black, white). Such concentration and distillation working with a limited palette and reduced scale. I am sure you will have a great experience, and when you're ready, either there or on your return, you will make wonderful work. Safe travels. Liz

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    1. Oh my, you are truly working within some strict limitations! Good for you! Safe travels to you too.

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  6. Your thoughts on the pros and cons of limitations in multiple meanings of the term inspire. I truly enjoyed the quote from Pico Lyer and Stephen Nachmanovich.
    The possibilities are tremendous for your residency and the anxiety of what all to bring is necessary to some extent to have any media you can rely on. As I recall, the nature palette in Iceland can be minimal but is rich...a plus! The basic printing brayer and inking plate, brushes and scraffito tools, oil sticks, charcoal, watercolor tubes, pans, woodless watercolor sticks, charcoal, conte' crayon, woodless colored pencils and pencil assortment of drawing pencils and graphite, with sponges and erasers, a decent sharpener and stumps. Good stock of paper that can take printing, paint, and drawing media, a glue for collages, some rice papers, and a fixitive would all be nice.
    Don't forget the camera, the journals, and sketch pads.
    A few changes of clothes would be nice.
    Have a wonderful fruitful trip and residency.

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    1. Hi Kathie,
      Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions of what to take. Whew, what a list! Barely room for clothes! But hey, what's more important?

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  7. I'm with you, Janice - been completely obsessed with packing this week. Looks like I am going with one large duffle of personal items, one suitcase of art supplies, and a small carry-on backpack. Not as light as I would like to travel but...

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  8. Whew.....sounds like a lot of stuff! Hard to cut it down though. See you there!

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  9. The residency sounds wonderful...a whole month...bliss. I too had detached retina surgery with the gas bubble...no fun being facedown for 2 weeks...I had to be facedown 24/7 except for bathroom breaks. Makes you appreciate your eyesight. When in doubt, pack EVERYTHING>

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