I have been home a few days now and slowly starting to get back into my routine. Although I was sad to leave the colony I am enjoying the creature comforts of home. While all of them are not needed they are all appreciated, especially my amazing bed and super hot shower. Being bug free is great too.
I am truly grateful for the residency experience. To be able to have uninterrupted time to focus on my craft in a peaceful and beautiful setting is priceless. I began this journey planning all of the things I wanted to accomplish. I set expectations for myself of what I would create and do. Then I got to Costa Rica and the universe had other plans for me. At first I struggled and felt lost. The hours and days would drag on and inspiration wouldn’t come and I would try and force myself to create. I just went through the motions, starting piece after piece without finishing or feeling passionate about any of them. Time was constantly on my mind, I kept reminding myself that I only had 4 weeks and I must do something. After toiling with these issues for a week I decided to just let go. Part of being an artist is “filling the well” and that’s what I decided to do, no longer fighting with my muse or mind and just enjoy my surroundings. Some days I did nothing at all, didn’t even get out of bed. I read a lot and researched different techniques or topics that were interesting to me. I swam and walked, took in the sites and just enjoyed myself. I realized that this is really what I needed as an artist. This has been a difficult year full of highs and very low lows and through it all I just kept pushing myself. As my family and friends know I never really stop, I am extremely prolific and usually have several projects going at one time in addition to my “day job”. I don’t feel at ease unless I am being productive or planning something. I do know how to relax and have fun but even then the wheels are still turning. This residency forced me to stop, to do nothing and be mindful. Like I said it was very difficult at first, but it all turned out for the best.
After that first week time flew by. I slowly started working on projects that interested me. One of those projects was taking portraits of the local plant life. It was so abundant and beautiful I felt the need to capture it. I didn’t take pictures in the traditional way of the plant or flower in its natural environment. Instead I brought it into my studio with special lighting and really focused on it as an individual piece. After I had the photos I then began experimenting with a paper weaving technique. I printed two copies of the photo out onto watercolor paper. I then cut strips into one vertically and one horizontally and then weaved them together. After the weaving was done I dipped the finished picture into encaustic wax to seal it and give it a softer look. I must say that I really like the results of this technique and plan to complete a series of them. The act of weaving the photos could take a long time depending on the size and was very meditative and relaxing.
The second major project I worked on was my “Thought Pods” I found and collected lots of interesting seed pods around the colony. I wanted to use them in some way in my work. I also had brought some old books to work on book art projects. I combined the seed pods, book pages, and encaustic in interesting ways to create what I call “Thought Pods”. These were fun to create, I love books and writing and try to incorporate them into my work when possible. It was also messy and sculptural work witch was enjoyable.
I had a revitalizing experience at the colony and even came home with a good amount of finished artwork. I am eager to attend another artist residency, although it probably won’t be for a while due to life and its responsibilities.
I want to truly thank everyone who helped make this experience possible. All of my family, friends and art patrons who have always been there and supported my work and adventures, without you these journeys would not be possible.
Here are some samples of my photo weaves. I will be posting more soon.