Despite the pandemic, 2020 was an amazing year for creating and connecting with other artists, plus my art sales have been excellent. I'm so grateful for all of this, and for my health and that of my family. These reasons have helped me cope with the last 10 months. Like everyone else, I've been expecting the pandemic end to be just around the corner, yet here we go again with another lockdown in Ontario. I must admit, I found myself gutted by this latest news, as coping with a Canadian winter can be challenging enough on its own with the never-ending gray skies and icy sidewalks. Brief wallowing over, in typical fashion, I set out to find ways to deal with it. I've always been good at problem solving, I even enjoy a good challenge!
I've been participating with an #instagram challenge called #21daysinmyartworld. Each day I share images and content showing my art life. Today's challenge is to share a "turning point". I've had many turning points in my art career, but with the announcement of a new lockdown I’ve decided today is a new TURNING POINT for me and am determined to build some structure into my days by creating an at home ARTIST RETREAT for myself. Artists typically travel away from home for retreats to delve deep into their practice by challenging themselves through experimentation and introspection, finding new inspiration which they typically may not find at home. Plus, they are away from daily distractions and family obligations which allows for this deep dive.
I’ve been seriously considering going away on an artist retreat for the past 2 years. My first choices are the South of France (there's one at a French chateaux that looks amazing, on Instagram it's called #chateau_orquevaux) or somewhere along the coast of England, like Cornwall. These days I'd even be happy with a retreat somewhere along the shores of my beloved Lake Huron, a mere one hour's drive from my home.
So what will my self-imposed ARTIST RETREAT look like?
Well, the cell phone and computer will be turned off during studio hours which are 12-5 Mon-Fri. I'm going to experiment with my new paints, ink blocks and oil sticks. I'll create lots of bad art, possibly some good (most paintings are quite ugly before the final transformation). I'll begin creating a series of studies on paper that will explore the word prompts provided to me recently by my social media followers. I asked for nature inspired words and had a wonderful response. If you have any you'd like to share with me I'd love to hear them! I'll delve into the art books that I have stashed all over my house and studio, and continue to listen to my music (I'm currently obsessed with David Gray, Ray Lamontagne, Tom O'Dell and Snow Patrol).
While I'll still make dinner for my family, I've put a sign on my studio door, RETREAT HOURS - 12-5, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB. This serves as a reminder for myself that I'm serious about doing this, and also to my 13 year old who tends to run into the studio with something along the lines of "what should I eat for lunch?"
Lastly, I'll share my retreat explorations with you and live out this lockdown alongside everyone else, trying to make the most of this time instead of being frustrated by it.
Stay safe everyone, and try to create a stay at home retreat for yourselves, doing the things that you’ve always dreamed of doing but never had time for.