Vermont Painting Residency

This is a good opportunity for me to paint. Away from responsibilities at home, and away from work and wonderful clients. I'm here to focus on PAINTING! A note for NEW blog viewers: if you'd like to read chronologically, begin with the posting at the bottom. The most recent postings are at the top. Additionally, one can double-click on most images to enlarge for more detail.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Entertainment in Johnson, VT

Besides the interesting lectures and presentations provided by visiting artists and the VSC artists and writers, there is other entertainment here. I was completing work in my studio one evening last week. I heard music and followed it to a source down the hallway in “the Gym” discovering a dance party. How convenient…so close to my studio. I thank my dance partner, Erin, for sharing these photos.

Knowing that I don’t enjoy laundry, a few of my buddies asked me to join them. I was promised an interesting experience. Amazing how a group of artists can turn a mundane chore into entertainment. The adventure began when we made a collective decision to drive to the Laundromat. It is important to mention here for those not familiar with the metropolis of Johnson, VT that the Laundromat is only two blocks from VSC.
The return trip was a bit longer, since we traveled to Morrisville (10 miles one-way) for videos and stale Dunkin Doughnuts (I didn’t know they made them only in the morning…where’s a “HOT” sign at the Krispy Kreme when you need to fulfill a late night attack of the munchies).

A near disaster was averted when Elizabeth used her alertness and good driving skills to dodge a skunk crossing the highway (I was more impressed by the skunk’s skill at getting the h*!!-out-of-the-way of our swift Volvo).

It was like a heat-wave today (I think it possibly made it to 80 degrees if one sat in a sunny spot). Sporting flip-flops and shorts, the residents of VSC made trips to rivers, creeks and swimming holes. Ivette and Erin directed me to this beautiful place less than 2 miles from VSC. Childhood experiences in the Blue Ridge Mts., taught me that the water temperature here would be like ice-water. Yet, not to be outdone by the girls, I succumbed to my inner macho and plunged into the water. I think I screamed like a little girl (and, to think, I was worried about letting them paint my toenails last week). 2 hours later, I regained the feeling in my feet. Below is our swimming hole...looks like fresh glacial water, doesn't it?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Photos by Stephanie

The following photos were taken by Stephanie Beach, another painter here at VSC. The first one on the right is Ruth Miller, the visiting painter. The photo below and left is Stephanie in her studio. The next photos are show a flooded farm near Johnson and the rainbow that appeared outside of the dining hall (viewing toward the east). Thanks Stephanie.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Painting Party at Pearl House

Not what you are thinking. Painters don’t always have to paint on canvas. The following photos show a few of my painting buddies, Erin, Ivette, and Elizabeth. We are in the sitting area above my room in Pearl. The first photo is them busy painting their toenails. In the second photo, they are thanking Roger for packing a bag of snacks for our 14 hour driving trip last week (guess he thought he could bribe me with sweets when I became too unruly...didn't work...I think he said something about tranquizers for the ride home).
Because the food has been so healthy, good and filling here at VSC, I’d not been tempted to raid the snack bag in my car. That is until Elizabeth said the pedicure party wasn’t complete...we needed junk food. No one really wanted to make a run to the store in the rain...then I remembered the snack bag. The party had been saved! The girls had originally threatened to paint my toenails…but thanks to the sweets, chocolate and Poppycock…everyone was fulfilled…and my toes were spared.

Good Weather for Ducks

I woke this morning and didn’t hear the sound of rain. There seemed to be a little streak of sunlight coming in between the slats of the blinds. Finally! I quickly got dressed, grabbed my camera and headed out the door. Even at 7am on a Sunday, there were several VSC artists awake and scurrying about celebrating the sunlight. Someone stopped me to comment that it looks like an entirely different place when the sun is out...since we haven’t seen it in a week.

The above left photo is a trio of wild ducks…they sense that Louise is outside and are making a beeline to her garden where she feeds them. At the right and below is a photo of Louise’s ducks.

As I planned a trip to venture outside Johnson (my car has been parked for a whole week) I noticed the sky beginning to darken. In less than a half an hour, it began to sprinkle rain again. I was still determined to leave despite the threatening skies. I headed north to the Belvidere (correct spelling) Mountain area.

The photo at left is a waterfall adjacent to the highway and near Johnson.

I traveled until I saw a sign for a hiking trail. The photo below and right was taken along the trail...before it began raining…not again...RATS!

I returned to my car and got on the road and headed back south in the direction toward Johnson. I saw acres of farmland adjacent to a river that had flooded its banks. One would usually see a field in the foreground of the photo at below right…but it is now a lake.

Not yet entirely satisfied with my adventure, I reconsidered returning to Johnson and instead followed signs to Smuggler’s Notch. This area is a popular ski area with many rock-faced cliffs and waterfalls one can see from the road. I stopped to take the photo below where the road snakes in and out of giant boulders…even in my fleece jacket, I was cold. I heard someone talk about a snow forecast…ridiculous…right? The low temp for tonight is 39 degrees...the good news is that the prediction is for only a 30% chance of showers.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Saw the sun today.

For the first time since I've been here, the sun came out today. It happened just after lunch and stayed out for about 3 hours. It is raining now. The photo at left is of the main street in Johnson. The white churchlike building is another painting studio called 'Church' and the red brick building is a bookstore. The Chinese take-out restaurant is just out of the left side of the photo (behind the flag)...after Roger reads this I'd bet he calls in an order of Sweet and Sour Chicken wherever he is.

I have been working on small, but more serious paintings. I am happy with the results and my progress at this stage. This setup is excellent for the way that I tend to work. I get to the studio after breakfast, work as much as I can until lunch. I help Louise in the gardens for a couple of hours (part of my work-study grant). And return to work in the studio for about 3 hours until supper. I work for another hour or more in the evening.

This evening we went to the Lecture Hall (another converted church, photo below) and saw slides of 6 fellow artists' work. Maybe it was the church setting, or the 2 hours of weeding in the gardens, or most likely the second helping of bread at dinner...something caused me to nodd-off during the presentations...I hope the art god wasn't watching me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

American Idol in Vermont?

For those of you interested what I'm painting: I decided to start with a few abstract gestural paintings on watercolor a warming up exercise since I haven't painted in a year. In addition, I took photos of the flora just outside the studio building….between rain showers, of course. It is still raining and I honestly haven't seen the sun since arriving in VT. The photo at right is one I took in a vegetable garden between the 'Gym' and the river...I believe it is Rhubarb.

I emailed the following to some of you before publishing it in my blog… you can skip over or read again.

In the process of weaning myself off of a media based lifestyle, I felt like I’d be breaking some sort of Vermont law if I inquired to see if anyone would be watching Idol last night. I anxiously ventured down to the resident’s lounge where they have a TV (along with a ping-pong table, etc.). Gathered around were one or two people watching TV…and Idol was on…life is good! Also watching were a couple of others who hadn’t seen many of the shows. I pretended to be an occasional viewer.

I think that I gave it away when I started reciting-off Idol facts when someone would ask a question (like…Who is this?…my pitiful reply: “Her name is Katherine, she’s from LA, she’s gotta great voice, but I don’t think she’s gonna win, ‘cause she’s been at the bottom of the voting results many times…don’t you think she’s attractive?”…oops). Also, I tried to restrain myself when a gal came into the lounge and said “What’s everyone watching?” …I blurted out loudly “American Idol” (like, don’t you even think about asking us to change the channel)…she said “OK”…but one of those long ones where you could see she was rolling her eyes as she turned around and walked off.

I’m anticipating tonight’s show…I’ll try to contain myself but I’m already preparing. For example, there is a talk on meditation in the Dining Hall just before Idol. Already I’m planning to sit near an exit, so if the speaker runs a little long, I’ll be able to leave discreetly. Shameful behavior…I know. And yes, I’m sure there is a 12 step program for people like me…however, it is just one more week and then I’ll be forced to go ‘cold turkey’.

“Hello, my name is Ed, I’m an American Idol addict. I like Katherine the best but I think Taylor’s gonna win.” Sick…I should probably double-up on my time in the Meditation Barn. This is a photo of Katherine.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Settling In

I've now had a couple of days to settle-in. I am learning more about my immediate surroundings and meeting other painters along with a few writers and sculptors (approx 50+ people). Most have a similar need...a retreat where you can immerse yourself in your creative instruction, just a suitable place to work and plenty of time. The Vermont Studio Center also provides the resource of 5 visiting artists each month who are available to critique the work of those at the center.

Everyone is friendly. A 'stretch', since most artists tend to work reclusively. There is a wide range of ages, but predominately grad school age. A challenge to remember all the names.

Lodging is simple and frills. My house is called 'Pearl' at left. Meals are low on meat and high in vegetables. I could live off of the fresh baked homemade bread and the sweet Vermont butter. Roger would stave here except there's a Chinese take-out place only a block from the Mill.

We work in various buildings around Johnson. Most studios are in buildings converted from a previous studio is in the old gymasium. The photo at right shows the 'Gym'...white building on this side. You can also see just the front roof peak of 'Pearl' across the street and the last as one is going down the road. BTW further down this road is Johnson College.

All VSC buildings are within close walking distance to one another with the Red Mill being the hub and place we meet 3 times per day for meals.

No artist center would be complete without a Yoga studio...also within a block to everything. I decided that I'd try a class this afternoon. I didn't do too bad considering it was my first time. It was more strenuous than I thought it would be. I'm sure I'll be sore in a day or so...but it is very good for you!

Next door to the Mill, across the street from 'the Gym' and behind the Yoga studio is a small, but well-stocked art supply store. The woman who owns the store already recognizes me...maybe she sees $$$. If only there was a cool plant shop behind the art store, I'd be in heaven.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Arrival at Vermont Studio Center

After taking Roger to the Burlington airport, I drove to Johnson and registered at the Vermont Studio Center (VSC). I was greeted by the kind and helpful staff who showed me my studio and the house where I’ll be staying during my visit.

This is a photo of the main building and dining hall, called the Red Mill. My studio is located just across the street in a large building called Kahn Gym. I was glad to find my studio is large, open and light. My house, which I'm sharing with about 10 others, is about one block from the studio. I think I’ll be parking my car and walking everywhere! I had just enough time to unload my clothes and my studio supplies before it began to rain again. Tonight is a brief welcome before dinner. Tomorrow I begin to work.

A quick word about Vermont. I’ve had opportunities to travel to a few places in the world, but I am beginning to see that this state has some unique residents. A bumper sticker I saw today probably sums it up: “I’M A VERMONTA, I DO WHAT I WANTA”.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Last Travel Day

The great weather yesterday disappeared by today. We ‘hit the road’ early this morning and drove until we were ready for breakfast. Making it to Saratoga Springs, we passed the famous race track and Roger found a diner...funny how that happens. We filled-up our stomachs and the gas tank…$2.99 per gal. here in NY.

Exploring Saratoga’s main street shops was a good idea since we encountered showers as we traveled into Vermont. After driving for a total of 4 hours we reached our destination of Stowe, VT
(moose photos at this link)
OK, so for those of you who would be inquiring, let's just get it out in the open. I had a small meltdown…just a minor one, considering I’d been on the road for 14 hours…let's just I say that I don’t like road trips?

Friday, May 12, 2006

On the way to VT

With a car packed full of art supplies and a few personal belongings, we began our trip early this morning at home in Charlotte, NC. 11 hours and 700 miles later, we've made it as far as Kingston, NY (about 45 min. south of Albany). The driving weather was great and the natural landscape along I-77, I-81 and I-84 was beautiful.

We traveled from the Blue Ridge mountains, through the Shenandoah Valley, the Poconos and now the Catskill mountains. It makes sense, but I hadn't realized that I'd get the chance to re-experience Spring. I will get the opportunity to see fresh foliage and flowers emerging for a second time this year.

Our ultimate destination, Johnson, VT, is about 4 hours further. See more information at: