Here is how mine unfolded. Week one: general euphoria, an unlimited feeling of spaciousness and possibility, coupled with some rushing around, to try and paint everything I love most, all at once! At the end of week one the hurricane blew through, and the ocean was truly awesome. In fact it was overwhelming, and after attempting to paint the aftermath of the storm I had to retreat into the woods for the rest of the day, to move away from all that raw energy. Week two: the storm did pass, peacefulness returned, and with it a settling in, and still that broad feeling of time being suspended. The wall clock in my apartment didn't work and I didn't need it to, because the time was always now. I made major efforts on large canvases during the mornings, then lighter efforts on smaller canvases in the afternoons. I also took a few days to just work in watercolor, and hiked around with my sketchbook and supplies in a backpack, and stopped wherever I wanted to paint. Week three: nothing lasts, and the wheels start coming off the bus. The pace I was working at was difficult to sustain, and I missed home and my loved ones very much. I also realized that I would not have time to paint everything. I mean, I wanted to paint everything! (I still want to! It's all so good!) But instead I could only choose individual moments - this rock, this tree, this view. And what I was able to paint did not come all that close to the splendor of what I was actually seeing. Over time, this can be upsetting! However. I have made friends with failure and I am in love with trying. Often when beginning a canvas, I say to myself, quietly, Just try. And then I do. For me, it's the only way to move forward as a painter - one canvas at a time. Again, this can be frustrating! By the time week three was finished, I was very tired, and ready to pack my things - all my tries - and return home.
I have no images to share right now, of any of the 34 oil paintings I completed, simply because I haven't photographed them yet. They are unpacked and leaning up in my attic studio, though, and I run upstairs and look at them for a few minutes, then have to leave again. At their worst, they say to me, "All that, for this?" and at their best, they say to me, "All that, for this!" What a difference one punctuation mark makes! Many of them fall flat, in my eyes, but some of them also approach transcendence (again, in my eyes), and they make every attempt worthwhile. What a strange thing painting is - I can't think about it too much or I start to wonder why anybody ever does it in the first place. It echoes and describes pure feeling, pure emotion - in a word, love - in a way that nothing else seems to do. How? What a mystery it is.
Wonderful people at Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Institute hosted me at this residency, and left me alone for the most part, to paint the weeks away in happy solitude. I cannot thank them enough for this great gift. I returned to the home of my youth, went back to the land in the ways that suited me best, learned a lot about myself and my place in that landscape, and will be unraveling and examining the skeins of this amazing experience over the coming months and years. And, needless to say, I'll be returning to paint at Schoodic again, whenever I can. There is more work to be done there, by me, and I can't wait to do it.