What to do with yourself

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Caroline Planting wrote, “I’m packing to attend a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. It’s a bit scary, thinking about what I’ll do with all the time in the world for two weeks, just painting. Even packing is hard — what to take? How will my mind be affected up there?” Thanks, Caroline. Good questions. The effect on your mind will depend on how it’s already affected. You can take the girl out of the county, but it’s not so easy to take the county out of the girl. Stressful as it may be, most of us would welcome the opportunity for “two weeks, just painting.” Once, when much younger, I took two weeks on a remote island. I was pretty well by myself, and I pretty well went nuts. I was stuck with an unpleasant companion — myself. After a couple of days of creative non-abundance, and mosquitoes, I chopped wood for the remainder. Now, much older, I’ve come to terms with concentration. It happens. Left alone to just paint, I’m as happy as a cow in a stall, even while being bitten by black flies the size of Stealth bombers. If you’re driving up there, you can pack everything. When you get to the center you may decide you’re not a painter but a filmmaker or a flyer of two-string kites. It’s amazing how Zenlike and procrastinatorily fun stunt-kiting can be. Don’t forget the kites. There’s a lot of wind in that part of Vermont. The downside is “residency.” That implies you are the resident artist and thus must at all times let others see how driven and creative you are. That’s why you scored the residency, right? Well, I’ve got news for you. Because you’re an artist, people will tend to think you’re okay no matter what you do. So when you’re out there trying to push a brush in the bush, you can have a sign that says “Go away,” and the folks will think you’re wonderful. Eccentric, but wonderful. Then you can show them your work when you’re ready. Preferably in the evening under poor light. If they have any good wine up there you can hobnob. Personally, I find the après-paint the most self-destructive. It’s possible to get the idea you know what you’re doing. There is one last possibility: The people who run the residency may want to open your eyes. This is when you need to kiss the folks who brought you there. Take your camera. As Diane Arbus said, “My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” Best regards, Robert PS: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” (Saint Augustine) Esoterica: You may find the first few days awkward and non-productive. When you get into the daily routine of painting, eating and sleeping, the eternal roll begins to bless you with an unexplainable grace and joy. Accept the gift. When you start to do something lousy, put it aside and start again. Tomorrow will be another day. You have all the time in the world. Life’s a residency.   Couldn’t get enough of it by Alicia Byler, Lancaster, PA, USA  

“The Affair”
mixed media
by Alicia Byler

I was nervous too, the first time I drove up to the Vermont Studio Center in September 1997. Guess what? I extended my stay for two extra weeks and attended again for a month in July 1998. Be prepared to eat great food, meet interesting people, lose a little sleep, sleep a little extra, paint a little, paint voraciously, make great work, make work you will throw away, fall in love, breathe in deep wonderful Vermont air, go exploring, maybe a day trip to Montreal, it will be a glorious time! Who knows, you may meet someone who will become a friend for life! There is 1 comment for Couldn’t get enough of it by Alicia Byler

From: Liz Reday — Aug 17, 2010

Wonderful painting! And a terrific attitude towards life.

  Defeated before starting by Tiit Raid, Fall Creek, Wisconsin, USA  

“Fall Creek Pond: Combined Shoreline”
acrylic painting
by Tiit Raid

To me, “How will my mind be affected up there?” seems like a very naive question. How does anyone know how one’s mind is going to respond in a new situation? Instead of looking forward to the luxury of un-interrupted time to work, she frets. This type of thinking is just a set up for having a terrible and limiting time. Part of life is to experience new things. So many people I’ve met over the years defeat themselves before they start. There is 1 comment for Defeated before starting by Tiit Raid
From: Anonymous — Aug 16, 2010

What fantastic paintings you make out of your close scrutiny of your familiar environment! Your residency is what you look at where you are, and that is the essence of seeing. Thank you for this. Susan

  Terrifying freedom by Apryl Anderson, Aix-en-Provence, France  

original painting
by Apryl Anderson

I’m nearing the end of my 4th annual child-free month: they’re at their grandparents’, and hubby works far enough away to allow me Mon-Fri of creative solitude. I love it, and hate it, because the only dictator is me — waxing and waning between chaos and control! This video is an absolutely beautiful statement of our terrifying freedom. There are 3 comments for Terrifying freedom by Apryl Anderson
From: Brenda Behr — Aug 16, 2010

Thanks for sharing the terrific video.

From: Karen R. Phinney — Aug 17, 2010

Great to see that video by Tanya Davis….I loved the one she did about Art! And it is fun to see she is in downtown Halifax, where I live……she is talking to the statue of Churchill on Spring Garden Rd. Thanks for posting it, it is so true. I do feel the muse comes better when I am alone, perhaps with some inspiring music!

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Aug 20, 2010

Film maker Andrya Dorfman made the animated/live film, and Tanya wrote and performed her song poem. A delightful combination: I’m a fan.

  Most valuable experience by Kris Parins, FL, USA  

“Whitehall Tavern”
watercolour painting
by Kris Parins

I spent a month as artist-in-residence at Harpers Ferry Historical Park. Partly because of the geographical location in a rock valley, and partly due to Park policy, I had no television, radio, internet, phone, or cell signal. My car was parked a mile away. I have never been so lonely, or so productive. During that month I completed 18 watercolor paintings (sold several), read 16 books, and met many wonderful people. The Park Bookstore is still selling my prints and note cards, and just ordered a calendar with the paintings I created. Would I do it again? Absolutely! The residency was one of the most valuable art experiences I have ever had.   Have a plan, then deviate by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

“Island sheep (Helgolander)”
oil painting
by Robin Shillcock

There’s a middle way for Caroline Planting: instead of throwing yourself at painting you can take a few days to travel and, preferably, travel light: on a bike, with just a sketchbook, a few pencils and a sharpener. It’s the art of jotting down what strikes you as interesting, and it’s a quick art if you limit yourself in time. Twenty minutes top to do a sketch, or even less then back to pedaling down winding roads. It’s good to make you feel a little at home in new surroundings, and you also get to meet people, taste the air and see the sights. I have a studio in a deserted village on an island in arctic Norway; I’ve spent two and a half months entirely alone, and enjoyed every single day! Each day start out with mundane chores before breakfast: fetching water from a well in two buckets, nodding to oystercatchers on the left and perhaps an otter on my right, and then deciding which direction to hike to sketch. Pure bliss! The very first act when setting foot upon the island is to remove my watch. In summer the sun never sets and I simply follow the signals sent by stomach, intestine and brain. Most days are spent out of doors, days of inclement weather inside, unless the wind drives the smoke from the chimney into “the studio.” People (usually fishermen) arriving in a boat, are viewed with wariness, as I consider that part of the island to be mine. I have no right to lay claim but being alone (especially in winter!) evokes a sense of ownership. All of it, mine, including about a million seabirds and beasts including sheep, grey seals and beached whales. The main thing is to have a plan, and then deviate. You are the king (or queen).   Residency in Tuscany by Colleen Obrien, Calgary, AB, Canada  

“Anna deHoop”
oil painting
by Colleen Obrien

I have applied for and been accepted by La Macina di San Cresci to be their Artist in Residence for November 2010! They are located in the Tuscany region of Italy. Here is an excerpt of the Residency Program: The artist residency program provides the ideal combination of living and working in a setting of truly inspirational beauty. Artist residency is a program based on a personal project proposal presented. A yearbook archive is published representative of the various experiences, and produced using photos and texts of artists and events. The artists with a special interesting project have a public event offering a venue to test ideas in a dialog with other artists, and the general public. Help will be given from La Macina di San Cresci staff to organize a local exhibition on a theme related to their Residency project. (RG note) Thanks, Colleen. Artists wishing to look into or apply for this residency can go to here. Also you might take a look here.   Time and opportunity by Brenda Hofreiter, Orlando, FL, USA  

“Blackpoint Mangroves”
oil painting
by Brenda Hofreiter

Over the years I have been granted several artist-in-residencies. As a struggling artist, there never seems to be enough money in the bank to afford to travel and paint. These residencies supplied the opportunity I needed. Never knowing what to expect, or would be expected from me, I came over prepared for both my duties as a resident artist (with power point presentations, etc.) and art supplies. I need not have been concerned. Without the usual distractions of home, the days fed one into another and a two week residency passed like lightning before my eyes as the paintings stacked up. What to do with myself was never a problem. Even though I am a full-time professional artist, at home I find that painting time seems to always be at a premium. For many reasons, just getting out of the house to paint on most days is a tall order. There are so many distractions in normal life. The needs of family, friends, home, business and errands seem to always take priority. I found the residency needs much less demanding, leaving me more time and less distractions to concentrate on painting. It was a joy! I wish there were many more residency opportunities for artists. They enable the artist to experience the joy of unstructured time and the beauty and inspiration of new vistas. Time and opportunity are two of the most precious gifts an artist can receive. Within them, there is space to breathe and to create.   Benefactor made it possible by Brenda Behr, Goldsboro, NC, USA  

“The Cornwallis House”
watercolour painting
by Brenda Behr

Three days ago I arrived back from a painting excursion to Bethania, North Carolina, just on the outskirts of Winston-Salem. A benefactor, who believed I would love to paint this community, sponsored my trip. He was right. Additional paintings can be seen and more can be read about the trip and about the historical town of Bethania on my blog. Except for the people I met along the way, I was alone. Being single and being an artist I am quite used to being alone. Although I had my iPhone on this trip, I was otherwise without a computer. I loved it. I loved the focus it gave me. I love the fresh eyes I have when I see a place for the first time. The heat some days skyrocketed to 98 degrees, but hey, I was there to paint, and I was not about to succumb to the discomfort of heat. Shade trees are heroes to a lowly, overheated plein air painter. I love how productive the trip was and the inventory it gave me to show in an upcoming festival. As a plein air painter, the nights get long, and they do get lonely. One night I saw a free film at SE CCA, a contemporary art museum in Winston-Salem, and two other nights I went to films at a new independent theatre downtown. A shift in our routines is invigorating. I’m ready to go again.   No apologies necessary by Susan Holland, Bellevue, WA, USA  

“FRANCE Alley 1”
oil painting
by Susan Holland

The idea of having a dedicated time to paint can be for a half-hour lunch break or for a year or more. When you get to go to a location with a Title (like RESIDENCY) for an extended session it is just a change of venue… and not a JOB. My river tour of France (Rhone River from Arles to the Saone) was a big project, especially since I had just gotten out of a cast for my broken left ankle. Barge travel is wonderful — perfect when you have a gimpy leg. I took minimal art supplies, but all I needed to do the gouaches I had planned. I took a fisherman’s vest to carry all the little stuff in and pre-prepared supports for my painting. Traveling with minimal luggage is just a fabulous thing! When you are on a mission, you don’t need to take a lot of stuff — it will slow you down and be a distraction. Take your most important and favorite art tools, your painting clothes and one outfit for going out on the town. Don’t forget your glasses, toothbrush or vitamins. See if you can forget your laptop and your cell phone. At least leave them under the bed there for the duration. Then, empty your mind zennily and wait… the magic will begin if you are expecting it. The place will speak to you. Put your brush, or whatever, down on that support surface and let the magic begin. Let the time there move your brush in a way that is slow and deliberate and mindful of the moment. You get to do that, and you don’t have to make apologies for not being a social butterfly, a hostess, a mother or wife, a best friend, an employee, a volunteer, or any of that. You just get to make wonderful stuff. Everyone will respect that, everyone.   [fbcomments url=”http://clicks.robertgenn.com/residency.php”]     Featured Workshop: alGOma WILD art escapes
081710_robert-genn alGOma WILD art escapes   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

North Fork

oil painting 28 x 40 inches by Darrell Sullens, Spokane, WA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Clare Aaron of San Antonio, TX, USA, who wrote, “I have trouble seeing that two weeks of nothing but painting would be anything but pure bliss. To pack: All painting supplies and camera. Then you might think about a few things like clean underwear and toothbrush.” And also Dick Green of Bloomington, MN, USA who wrote, “Last month my wife and I were invited along with ten others to spend a week on Mallard Island on Rainy Lake, east of International Falls Minnesota. We had perfect weather, no bugs and were able to paint four watercolors each day. Other than eating blueberries and doing some canoeing, we could really concentrate on our painting. No cell phones, TV or radios allowed. One great experience! Check here for information about Mallard Island.”    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for What to do with yourself

From: Faith — Aug 13, 2010

I used to get exactly the same fears about attending workshops. Even 3 days seem like an eternity if you can’t do what you’re there for. That is what happened to me until I realized that I could avoid it by taking along sketches or half-finished paintings that I could fish out and carry on with. Since one knows what the workshop is going to be about, one can hand-pick what one is going to take along to match! If you are a resident artist, Caroline, you really don’t have an unsolvable problem. Apart from having the old excuse that you are an artist and therefore temperamental (=temper + mental), you call the tune, so getting everyone to knuckle down and do charcoal portraits, automatic drawing, collage etc are all super ways of getting through – I’ve experienced them all on my travels! Even travelling light needn’t narrow your scope of ingenuity. Take a roll of started watercolours or similar and then if necessary use them to bridge the creative gaps and even hold an exhibition. As for being out on a limb, well, there’s always sketching in the wilds, I suppose. I’m not sure about the kite-flying, though you could get students to make kites and give a prize to the one painted the prettiest (in watercolor inks). One more idea. Get a long roll of paper (wallpaper would do) and get all the people participating to construct a sort of Bayeux tapestry. That will keep everyone busy and you can lay hands on now and again. It’s everyone’s creation so it will make a splendid exhibit at the end of the two weeks. One last thought. No one except the perpetrator knows when a work of art is finished…..Enjoy!

From: Susan Kellogg — Aug 13, 2010

I am glad you were accepted and am sure you will have a great time, especially if you put intentions aside and let it happen! Aff’ly, Susie

From: Dwight Williams — Aug 13, 2010

How different we all are, and it’s wonderful that way. I once had a student that said, “Dwight could paint in a traffic jam.” Strangely, some of my best work in fifty years has come from the “traffic jam.” Hang in there. Robert is right. People will love you. Your best asset my be your reluctance now. Cockiness doesn’t sell well in the long run.

From: Tinker — Aug 13, 2010

Robert. loved your”advise” letter. Best I’v ever seen! ;-)

From: Anna Vreman — Aug 13, 2010

I live near the Vermont Studio Center and have many friends who have been lucky enough to go there for a week or two. Bring something you have been wanting to explore. You will have a studio space of your own (you can leave the door open or close it); there will be models if you want to do life drawing; there is a village and then the countryside if you want to do plein air painting; you can set up a still life if that’s your thing. You can sit and ponder or draw, write, or paint. The time is entirely your own. You can work big or small. You can make a mess if you want. It’s an opportunity to work hard and have fun!

From: Joyce Cambron — Aug 13, 2010

Caroline–I spent a wonderful month at VSC a few years ago. Anna’s advice above is spot on. The other thing about VSC is the community of other artists (writers too): be prepared for lots of art talk and studio visiting. It’s fun, stimulating, and enlightening and can be a creative jumpstart. Consider more than what to take; think about what to leave behind. Insecurity and anxiety, for instance. Try to clear your decks for work and concentration; take a break as much as you can from your daily life (family, job, bills, worries — they’ll all be there when you get home). Have a great time.

From: Deann Rex, Artist St George, UT — Aug 13, 2010

How wonderful! I wish I could join you. Is it possible for you to take a painter friend with you? I would love to be there and explore the wonders of nature in that area. How fortunate we are to be artists and really enjoy the beauties of this wonderful earth.

From: Lois Jackson ljackson@together.net — Aug 13, 2010

You will absolutely love the VSC. It’s like a spa for artists. To have a studio and all that time just to paint is wonderful. The food is fabulous! You can have as much or as little interaction with the others as you want, although just being together with a bunch of creative people for 2 weeks really gets the creative juices flowing. One must have an ipod or other mp3 player with earbuds if you like to have music to work by so that you don’t annoy the other artists. The studio walls go up to open space for good air circulation. The studios are minimally equipped so if you like to sit while painting, you will have to scrounge a comfortable chair. Take a cushion or two along. I took a little “hot shot” waterheater, as I run on tea and wanted to have an unending supply available. My memory of my VSC residency was that it was a great opportunity to meet other artists, to paint to my heart’s content, and that it was way too short.

From: Tina Blackburn — Aug 13, 2010

I have been to the Vermont Studio Center. You are given a private studio and all you need to do is break for meals, which are delicious. You are visited by the “critique” artists, which vary by week and it is a totally wonderful experience. You will make many friends as well. Enjoy it.

From: JUDY GRIFFITHS — Aug 13, 2010


From: Caroline Planting — Aug 13, 2010

Thanks so much for your wonderful letter! It really helped. I need to find a kite to fly! I am getting so many wonderful letters from subscribers.

From: K Daryl Potkins — Aug 13, 2010

Yep, it’s the après-paint that’s the most self-destructive. “It’s possible to get the idea you know what you’re doing.” Other people can be bamboozled, but by far the most damage can be done to the talker and demonstrator. Painting in public is dangerous.

From: Helen Prior — Aug 13, 2010

I have a welcome mat at my door that says “Go away.” So far it has not deterred anyone that I know of. Just in case I take it up when folks come over to buy.

From: Rosemary Conroy — Aug 13, 2010

I attended VSC last year and it was wonderful! It took me about a week to get into the swing — but I had a blast. So much supportive time and space and the best part was all the art talk over dinner — you’ll meet people from all over the world. I was so nervous but soon realized so was everyone else! I made some great friends and even made some pretty good art. It’s a beautiful place — enjoy! (and don’t worry about supplies — they have a jam-packed art supply store too.)

From: Anne Moon — Aug 13, 2010

Plus the Vermont Studio Center has a great art store, so a sudden idea can find its materials-on a line of credit while in residence- rather quickly. And the evening performances of poetry, theatre, music, not just visual art, is constantly inspiring. An artist friend went the first time and sat in her new open empty studio for an hour, in terror, before getting up and slowly closing the door. Now she can’t wait to get back to VSC. I did the same….and now feel the same: every artist should do a residency, there is nothing like! Seattle, Wa.

From: Jackie Knott — Aug 13, 2010

The luxury of having no one pulling at your time to just paint would be a delicious departure from most of our lives. Distractions interrupt that “zoned out” immersion that can be our most creative. You make this residency what you want it to be. If you have the stamina for ten hour days with brush in hand the whole time, fine. How do you normally work that can adapt to this environment? If “intermittent” is productive at home don’t change it. “This is how I work,” can dismiss a lot of questions. When they invited you they invited your work ethic as well. Dennis Farris was Artist In Residence at Zion National Park for thirty days in February and kept a blog of his experience, including entertaining occasional visitors. You might find his notes worthwhile. http://farrisart.com/

From: Peggy Appleby — Aug 14, 2010

I am never bored when I am painting: once I get started, I can’t stop! I signed up for a workshop on Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine a few years ago. The teacher was awful, but I went off and painted by myself or with others I met. I absolutely loved it and am hoping to visit the 13 US States I haven’t seen yet and to paint my way! If nothing more, when traveling, I take small boxes of various media and use 4×6 or 5×7 note cards. I can later mat and frame them or just keep them in a portfolio to use as resources or in place of photographs. Often I sell them on the spot!

From: Ryan Pollard — Aug 15, 2010

A residency is an endorsement that says to the world, “This artist is worthwhile and is appreciated.” A residency goes on the CV and looks good, no matter what happens.

From: Karen Dawson — Aug 15, 2010

I think in Caroline’s case, it might be more the reverse: “You can take the girl out of the city, but….etc.” As you probably know, Johnson VT is getting pretty close to God’s country. She will be well advised to head out on some of those back roads to paint, if she’s a Plein Airist; seeking always the road least traveled will help her find some smashing spots, especially this time of year! (don’t do that in the winter). When I have gone to the Studio Center as I used to when they offered a VERMONT ARTIST WEEK every 6 months, I would try to take advantage of all the “Crits” I could get; it’s almost as glorious as being back in school. And like in school, if you use the time to be adventurous in your head, you will be more adventurous in your work. Now, I need to follow my own advice and put down the vacuum cleaner, pick up my Italian easel and get out there! Burlington, VT

From: Chris Riley — Aug 15, 2010

Last June I had the great fortune of attending a workshop in El Molino, Spain with Suzanne Northcott. I was giddy with the anticipation of visiting and studying in Europe for the first time. Surely the work will pour out of me. After 4 days of morning mind expanding and settling yoga, the most delicious organic meals, intoxicating beauty of Olive Groves and of course the fabulous creative instructional genius of Suzanne…I was completely paralized. I couldn’t make a mark to save my soul. I started to feel guilty and useless which intensified as time went on and I thought of it more. Until I decided I was “SOUP”. On day four or five our caring instructor asked each of us if we were getting out what we expected. I said I feel like soup. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m just still in the “open vessel mode ” just taking it all in. Sure would be nice if I could put something down but it seems things are coming into me with the anticipation of stewing and brewing into something really terrific when it comes out. That’s my optimistic nature..but she knew I really was feeling bad. Suzanne said ” wait right there” and she ran to fetch this passage by Rumi. Chick Pea to Cook A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot where it’s being boiled. “why are you doing this to me?” The cook knocks him down with the ladle. “Don’t you try and jump out. You think I’m torturing you. I’m giving you flavour so you can mix with the spices and rice and be the lovely vitality of a human being.” “Remember when you drank rain in the garden? That was for this. Grace first. Sexual pleasure, then a boiling new life begins, and the friend has something good to eat.” Eventually the chickpea will say to the cook, “Boil me some more, Hit me with the skimming spoon. I can’t do this by myself. I’m like an elephant that dreams for gardens back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver, my way to existence. I love your cooking!” The cook says. ” I was once like you, fresh from the ground. Then boiled in time, and boiled some more, and boiled once beyond that, and .. became your teacher.

From: Thierry — Aug 15, 2010

From one of Africa’s poorest countries, I read these comments: my god, the only thing ‘poor insecure Caroline’ doesn’t worry about is what to wear! Watch out people, this space is in danger of becoming a wailing wall for insecure artists.

From: Gavin Logan — Aug 15, 2010

I don’t normally enjoy talking about art, and I think it’s much overdone, particularly in the schools, but on this site it’s wonderful.

From: Edna V.Hildebrandt — Aug 15, 2010

Caroline, I would say get to it with an open mind, enjoy the scenery and the people whom you will certainly meet. They maybe as anxious and stressed as you are.

From: Ellie Harold — Aug 16, 2010

I loved the distraction-free environment that allowed me to do nothing but paint when I served as Artist In Residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore last year. I also enjoyed that the NPS staff and visitors were excited about my presence. They helped me understand that I have a gift that has value only as I give it. Instead of messing around for 3 weeks, I was inspired to do what I could to paint bigger and better and with more people watching than I’d ever thought possible. I grew immensely as an artist and person. I know there are people who get blocked more easily than I do and perhaps NPS residencies simply aren’t for them. I suspect it’s true however, as you say,”life’s a residency” — each day we have multiple opportunities to face ourselves and decide whether or not to get on with it. Frankfort, MI

From: 809,437 — Aug 16, 2010

I have to get on with it right here in prison as a fancy residency isn’t an option for me just yet.

From: Debbie — Aug 16, 2010

Wow, is the entire third world so judgemental and abrasive? No wonder they need to be helped.

From: Dianne Bugash — Aug 16, 2010

I spent a month at the Vermont Studio Center and I know it is a special place to be. Don’t worry about what you will do. Take the materials you think you’d like to work with and go from there. They have an art store on campus as well as easy to get to shops for whatever you may need. I am a painter and eventhough I drove and took a carload of materials, I ended up not wanting to paint. However, I absorbed so much from being with the best, finest artists — visual and literary — (of all ages from 20-80) and attending the lectures from visiting artists. Just absorb it all!! Two weeks will go by amazingly fast. Enjoy. Dianne

From: Penny Bridger — Aug 17, 2010

I once had six months with nothing to do but paint. I had plenty of supplies, but no funny money, so there wasn’t much else going on but painting. Because I tried to keep up appearances, everyone thought I was the happiest of campers. I don’t ever want that to happen again. My life became incredibly one dimensional. The work suffered. My mental outlook suffered. When suddenly my circumstances changed and I had to cobble together time to paint, everything else changed as well. The work improved, as did my attitude. In recent years I’ve taken entire vacations and painted with sequestered and monk-like devotion. But there is an end to these periods, and I’m as willing to stop as I was eager to start. A couple weeks of residency is just the ticket.

From: Liz Reday — Aug 17, 2010

I got a laugh about the “wailing wall for insecure artists”. We need to paint ourselves out of insecurity, and the work ethic really helps. Everyone reacts to a social environment differently, however, if you have your own space and you don’t need to teach students, then it sounds like a cool deal. I too have spent entire vacations painting without time to kick back and enjoy the scenery! The balance of studio time VS family/housework/job is tricky, but after painting & art-making for many years, I have fallen into the habit of needing to “go to my room” each and every day. No wailing wall for me- I’m counting my blessings. Still, the opportunity to have dinner with other artists, poets, writers, etc. sounds inspiring and bound to get the creative juices flowing.

From: Kamoos Obomor — Aug 17, 2010

For Debbie, who said: “Wow, is the entire third world so judgemental and abrasive? No wonder they need to be helped.” That was nasty Debbie; half the world wonders where their next meal comes from, how to stay alive. Caroline’s whiney worries seem ridiculous in that light. Judgemental? Maybe. Abrasive? Walk a mile in my moccasins. Liz Reday gets it. Do you now?

From: Gavin Logan — Aug 18, 2010

There are always going to be ignorant people who ride along on Robert’s investigative odyssey

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 19, 2010

Kamoos, Most Americans forget how fortunate they really are, even the least fortunate of us are still more fortunate that most in 3rd world countries as I am sure you are well aware. Sadly, this set of blinders is far to common here in the states.

From: Maritza Bermudez — Aug 19, 2010

For someone who has never separated herself from the normal life and go and just paint for two weeks can be scary. The thing is that maybe two weeks might be too much if you’ve never done it…and always the first time can be tough. What she needs to do is start by doing it for a weekend, then add more days, then one week. She will then know if she can do it. If she can and likes being by herself and just paints and surroundings, then she might be ready for two weeks. Like most artists who enjoy plen air, being by ourselves and paint, and paint can be an exhilarating and vibrant experience, but it takes time. It would be good if she lets us know how her experience was.

From: Debbie — Aug 19, 2010

American artists give to charities and help less fortunate again and again with nothing but enthusiasm. Giving is not done to get any thanks back, it’s done from the heart — so comments like those are a stab in the heart. Caroline shared her most natural feelings of worry in her situation. It hurts to be seen as dumb if you worry what to wear at a well deserved trip. I am happy for her and for rich and poor who do their best to help others and not judge, envy and ridicule. Why don’t you sit in my dungeon gray cubicle for 80h per week without moving your eyes from a computer screen, and see if you would be excited about an art trip?

From: Kodo — Aug 19, 2010

Poverty is not noble. Wealth is not noble. Bridging the gap is noble. Widening the gap is evil.

From: Thierry — Aug 19, 2010

Only a fool would look at a computer screen for eighty hours a week, Debbie. And what does this have to do with Caroline? It was about her, not you. I like what Kodo says, let’s narrow the gap. So, let’s end this discussion and paint.

From: Kamoos — Aug 19, 2010

It doesn’t matter what you say, Debbie. The third world won’t feel sorry for you or Caroline, ‘most natural feelings’ or not.

From: Anonymous — Aug 20, 2010

I agree with Thierry, only a fool works so hard and then give away her money! Revisit your priorities Debbie and enjoy your life, work less, travel more, make art, splurge on yourself, don’t be called a fool. There will always be a third world. There will always be rude stupid people. That will never change, whatever you do or say, whether your heart bleeds or not. If you like to give, give to someone you know who will appreciate your gift. Paint your disappointment into a great painting, sell it for a lot of money and go on a luxurious trip! Life is too short! Think art, not people! Enjoy every moment!!!

From: Gena Courtney — Aug 22, 2010

I pray that God of All Creation shows you, soon, that ‘your’ greatest creation is riding on your back. Years from now, no one will care about your current pile of paint on faded canvas. It won’t matter, believe me. Your ten-month-old human being needs YOU – the MOTHER. The world has its artists for the time being. Granny


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