Settling back in

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A Cross Section of Awareness, 36 x 72 inches (triptych), acrylic & mixed media on panel
©2013 Deidre Adams

 

The experience of the immediate few days after returning home from a 4-week residency is not unlike the post-show letdown syndrome. The normal routine has been broken, there’s stuff piled everywhere that you have to deal with, and that little nagging inner voice of self doubt rears its head again. The fabulous time of working in a huge studio with so many other creative people nearby is over and you miss them – a lot. And it’s so easy to just sit in front of the computer wasting precious time instead of dealing with any of this.

I allowed myself several days of down time because I just didn’t feel motivated at all. Then I got tired of looking at the piles and started putting things away. Looking at tubes of paint and piles of paper and books and realizing I don’t have room for all these things in my current small space was a motivator to leave them out and start using them right away. Luckily, I had left myself a nice gift: an unfinished painting. Finishing this painting was just what I needed to get myself back into the habit of working again, because I love the rhythm of the process. I had decided to do this one in 3 parts because after having worked with some 48 x 72-inch panels earlier this year (see here and here), I realized these were just very difficult to deal with in my current setup. Working modularly is a great way to do a fairly large piece without so much of a struggle.

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A Cross Section of Awareness, detail

 

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A Cross Section of Awareness, detail

 

And because of my web-induced ADD personality, I have to have multiple things going on in the studio, so I’m continuing to do more Excavations pieces in between letting coats of paint and medium dry on the paintings on the floor.

I’ve also got this crazy idea now that I want a studio outside of my house. I so much enjoyed working in a community of other artists and having a space I could get really messy in, which just isn’t practical in my house. So far I haven’t found anything I could stand to be in at a price I can afford. But I’ve only been looking for a week. So we’ll see.


2017-10-15T16:15:00+00:00 November 22nd, 2013|Art|2 Comments

Vermont Studio Center residency – Part III

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The area surrounding Johnson and the VSC consists of forested hillsides which are lovely to walk in. One day at lunch, my new friend Rosa mentioned a beautiful “golden” tree she had seen on a walk. We thought she was talking about foliage, but she said no, it had bark that truly looked like gold. I didn’t believe this was possible, and I wanted to see it for myself. So four of us went out to see the golden tree, and I can now say that it really does exist. So cool! (It’s actually a Yellow Birch.)

On another excursion, my friend Sarah and I went up to the Johnson State College campus to have a look at their library. As luck would have it, there was a cart outside the door full of free books. Score! A good variety of technical things, with lots of interesting charts, maps, and other illustrations. I thought this was a gift from the gods for my Excavations pieces, and rightly so.

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Another benefit of the Vermont Studio Centers is the visiting artists program. Any resident who wishes to do so can receive a half-hour visit from the visiting artist, which is rather open-ended, but can take the form of just a chat session, or a full-on critique, depending on how the artist wants it to go. I had visits by Katherine Bradford, Bruce Gagnier, and Chris Brown, with what I would describe as varying degrees of success. However, I did receive a suggestion to look up Mark Bradford, which was a great idea. I realized I’d seen him before from Art:21. He uses ad posters collected from the fences in his neighborhood to make work that is both visually fascinating and conceptually compelling – so inspiring. I watched another couple of videos of him on YouTube that afternoon.

 

Thus armed with new ideas and inspiration, I decided to take this canvas drop cloth I’d acquired from the rummage sale and put it on the floor. Yet another great feature of the studio – a large area of floor that I could make a mess on – something new and very liberating! I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to do with it, but having a surface to work on that didn’t cost a lot of money meant I could just experiment and see what would happen. Using tar gel & matte medium, I drew some script straight onto the canvas and let it dry to use as a resist, then brushed on thin washes of paint. I drew swirling shapes on pages torn from my trove of materials and glued them down. I used washes of Payne’s Gray & white acrylic over the pages, then when they were dry, I tore away the parts that weren’t stuck down.

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This work went on for several days after that. It reached a stage, which virtually all of my work goes through, where I totally hated it and despaired of ever getting anything good out of it. At that point, the only thing to do is take some risks by adding more kinds of marks that are totally different from anything currently on the surface. Fast forward a little:

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This is how it looked when I decided to call it finished:

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I still need to come up with a name, and suggestions are welcome. A couple of detail shots:Adams-VSC-paperwork-8

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Here’s how my studio looked at the end:Adams-VSC-paperwork-10

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 One last thing: We all got a studio portrait from the VSC residency photographer, Howard Romero. I love mine!

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There’s a group photo too, but it came on CD and I don’t have a CD reader in my MacBook Air. I’ll have to wait until I get home to post that.

2017-10-15T16:15:01+00:00 October 31st, 2013|Art|7 Comments

Vermont Studio Center residency – Part II

Vermont Studio Center is located in the town of Johnson – population 3446 as of the 2010 U.S. Census – one of many small towns that dot Route 15. There are only a couple of restaurants/bars – The Hub, for pizza, pool, and karaoke on Saturday nights, and Wicked Wings, with a somewhat more extensive menu of bar-type food, plus Wok’n House, which I never did make it to. There’s a brand-new grocery store, quite nice, and two laundromats. Most of the houses are older, and the VSC owns several of these for housing the residents. I stayed in Mason House, which is one of the nicer ones, or so I’m told.


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Mason house
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My room
Adams-RedMillThe Mill, which houses the dining hall and the VSC offices
Adams-KahnKahn Studios, where I spent the greater part of my time

 

Besides the time and space to work in a creative atmosphere among other artists, Vermont Studio Center offers a number of additional opportunities. My favorite of these was open studios night, which took place twice while I was there. Most of the time, people work behind closed doors and are rather private about what’s going on in their respective sanctuaries, or lairs. But after dinner on these special nights, those who wish to do so open their studio doors and then everyone walks among the various studio buildings to see what their compatriots have been up to. It is quite the festive affair, and a good time is had by all. I was extremely impressed by the amount of talent and creativity gathered in one place and quite honored to be counted among them.

Another sharing opportunity came in the form of “slide nights” for the visual artists, or “resident readings” for the writers. These were spread out over the weeks so that a particular session lasted about an hour. Each artist who chose to participate had 5 minutes to show digital images and talk about themselves and their work. Writers had 10 minutes to read whatever they chose. Most read something they were working on while at the residency.

My work during this time consisted of some new paintings and experimental work as well as a continuation of my Excavations series. I’ve been collecting various types of “found” papers like bills and financial reports, books in foreign languages, sheet music, maps, bingo score sheets, and many other things. The first weekend I was here, there was a fantastic church rummage sale where I picked up a dictionary, a church hymnal, and a collection of patriotic document reproductions. These, along with the wrappers from some chocolate bars I ate while here and some outer wrappers from the toilet tissue here all provided great material for these pieces.

 

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As I work on these, I’ve started to picture them from the point of view of a sort of archaeologist from the future, perhaps from a faraway planet, who comes to Earth after we’ve destroyed our society and tries to make sense of all the many and varied materials we left behind, perhaps in an attempt to learn what happened to us. I’m thinking about the incredible amount of knowledge and information available in the world, but at the same time how it is not available to everyone. Access to information is carefully controlled and messages are manipulated for the benefit of some and to the detriment of others. How do we sort out what’s really important?

And now for your enjoyment, more photos of ridiculously photogenic Vermont.

2017-10-15T16:15:03+00:00 October 29th, 2013|Art|3 Comments