Thursday, April 04, 2013

Day 5: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 6:35am in the Studio

A blue sky day awakens this morning, and the sun begins to push above the tree line outside my window. Soon I will need to move my chair to avoid the light, but now it is a soft glow in the NE.

The visiting poet, Eamon Grennan, arrives today. He’ll be here for a reading tonight, a poetry craft talk tomorrow, and private conferences. I’m not sure when he departures, but perhaps he will be here for our reading on Sunday. I’ve really enjoyed his poetry online, and if you’d like to check it out, you can see a few pieces here and a great interview here.

Yesterday was quite a fun day. I began by going to the Life Drawing Studio after breakfast. I shadowed Connie, a fantastic artist, into the building, as we writers don’t have keys to their buildings. Her studio was lined with blank canvases on the walls, and I wish I could see them after four weeks. Her oil palette was out on the glass tray in front of a new painting. All I wanted to do was take photos of the cans of clean brushes and the colors all lined up and ready for use. So beautiful.

The Life Drawing Studio experience surprised me in many ways. When I first arrived, there were three artists preparing their spaces, and by the end, another three would arrive. There was another writer there, Lisa, and we both looked slightly relieved that there was another writer in the room. The model was in her robe, and her dog was already chomping on a new bone to keep him busy during the session. The VSC hires models five mornings a week to come and sit for the artists. Whoever arrives first gets to dictate the initial poses and time frames. Then, it becomes a negotiation with everyone in the room.

For two hours, I watched the model go from 2-minute poses to 20-minute poses. Standing poses, sitting poses, lounging, photos with props or not. All the artists were impressed by the quality of her poses. She seemed to know how the light worked against her body and what the artists may want to try. At one point, when she set up a half-upside down reclining pose, one of the artist’s said, “Beautiful. Beautifully Difficult.” The model laughed and said, “Good Luck.” The six artists used a variety of mediums—charcoal, pencil, ink spread with a palette knife, watercolor—and they all had different setups—sitting on a chair, sitting on an artist’s bench, standing at an easel, standing at a tall, flat drawing board, sitting on the floor. I really enjoyed seeing their work evolve from practice strokes with quick poses, to more studied pieces with the longer poses.

The afternoon was a hodge-podge of different readings. I read the pieces by Eamon mentioned above, I started Jenny Boully’s book The Body, and I continued with my
Westward Journey book. I typed up the Life Drawing Studio poem I wrote in the morning. I wrote a poem in my grandmother’s voice based on one of her journals. Besides being very sad and lonely as she misses her husband, she is also funny at times, repeating a few times, “I cry a lot, but it clears my sinuses.”

Yesterday evening after dinner, we enjoyed the first Resident Slides night of the residency. 10 artists sign up and turn in up to 20 digital slides for a 5-minute intro to who they are and what they do. As I mentioned before, there are almost 40 artists here, so over the course of the month, everyone will present. The artists last night do print-making, collage, sculpture, and painting. Everyone’s work is eclectic and versatile—nobody seems to be doing quite the same thing all the time. They may have signature pieces, but even those who have been artists for over 25 years don’t have one style or technique. We writers will have our chance at sharing next Sunday when six of us will read.

Today is a bit of a hodge podge, I think. I will do more reading, more of Jenny Boully’s book and maybe May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude or Tony Trigilio’s Historic Diary, perhaps work on the poem about my great-grandfather Collins and his weekly newspaper columns. It’s a fairly wide open day until 8pm when Eamon reads. I do have some work-study time to put in, so I’ll check that off the list first thing this morning.  

Hope you’re well and finding your own space for creativity in your day.

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