It took about three weeks for my self-addressed postcard to get to Chicago from Brodie. And the timing was perfect. I've been simmering in all things Scotch since my return, trying to keep that happy Highland flame flickering in my heart, and when I sat down to work on yesterday's blog post, my husband came in with the mail:
These handmade postcards were our first art activity on the retreat. It was good to dive in, and it kept us awake to deal with jet lag.
The Pipes Are Calling
Three years ago I went to what I called Amanda's Fantasy Art Camp. Two of my childhood friends and I went to a teeny island off of Maine to a retreat led by our high-school art teacher. The limitations and lifestyle on the island were 'camping' as far as I was concerned--we were urged not to flush the toilet in our lodging but once a day to conserve water. Camping!
Anyhoodle, this remarkable trip was a real boost to my art practice, and afterward I dove deep into artmaking and let the art writing go. It was the right thing to do. My painting and my goals have developed so much that I moved into a new studio. 500 square feet!
Three years later--June 2022--I went on my next retreat; this one another fantasy come true. My artist cousin organized a trip to Scotland AND we lodged at Brodie Castle. By this time I had gotten into a strong work routine and also joined a Scottish heritage group, Chicago Scots. This trip seemed like a good time to get back to some art writing, as I could document a special trip not only for myself but also for the benefit of the Chicago group and for my cousin. Clan Brodie!
Note: While I had indeed upgraded from cabin to castle, the toilet situation was pretty much the same. Old pipes!
"Look, Honey--it's artists!"
About me: I paint in the controlled comfort of my studio, and I take my time.
About painting outdoors: It is the opposite of that.
And so, I was nearly trembling with nervousness when I set up my outdoor easel for the FIRST TIME on the painter’s paradise that is Monhegan Island (12 miles off the coast of Maine) for a week-long plein-air painting workshop. (I intended to use it beforehand to get a feel for it, but I, uh, didn’t.) I chose a shady spot with no one around. Then my instructor set up next to me. His wife set up on my other side. I was already discombobulated, now I was anxious. My hands didn’t know where my tools were. Did I bring the right brushes? I’m hungry. After two hours, I could tell that first painting was awful, and I didn’t even try to finish it.
But then! I ate something, threw away the bad painting—literally and mentally—and went out to a different location. By the second time, I was already more confident. Each day we went to a new spot, which meant each day had an element of uncertainty, but any anxiety from that fact turned to excitement. By mid-week I looked and felt (maybe even smelled) like a seasoned outdoor painter, and my friends and I still made “studio time” in our apartment to finish up our outdoor work at the end of each day. We combined both worlds into a happy balance.
I Heart Art
I do! I make it, sell it, think about it, look at it, read about it, and (sometimes) I write about it. Join my mailing list, and you'll receive my brief--promise--messages about new work, shows, events, and a little inspiration. Probably a picture of my dog, too.