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Three weeks after returning from France, I’m finally sitting down to reflect on this residency experience and the profound impact it has made on my art practice and my life.
I spent the month of September at Chateau Orquevaux in France with 17 other artists. We’re writers, painters, collage artists, photographers, builders and makers from Iran, India, Ukraine, Russia, El Salvador, Canada, and the US. All but 2 were there for the full 4 weeks. The setting was sublime. Every resident had a private room and private studio. Just imagine waking up to this view every morning!
I lucked out by also having an en suite bathroom (shhh!!) and a private bath. And here’s the kicker ~ all meals were provided. There was never a shortage of food. Or wine. Or coffee…
Especially as a mom, having all my needs met, having nowhere else and no one else I needed to be, nothing else I needed to be doing but diving deep and creatively exploring was life changing.
My studio was in the stables, just down the driveway from the Chateau. As someone with a home studio, this ritual of walking to my work space was new to me. I came to appreciate this short commute between where I live and where I create. This distance gave me the privacy I needed to release the pressure valve and finally explore matters I’d been avoiding. With no to-do lists cluttering my mind, my journal pages were filling with hopes, dreams, and fears that needed a wide expanse of time and space to surface.
Then, with my heart wide open and vulnerable, I would head into the studio. Instead of listening to podcasts, as per usual, I listened to music. Following a tip from my writer friend Jonathon, when I found a song that resonated with the emotional space I was in (or wanted to be in), I added it to my ChateauO playlist and put it on repeat. And wow, did that open doors I wasn’t ready for. My thinky brain was no longer in command of my creative process. All I could do was paint my way through my feelings…which was one of my creative goals.
At this point, I could write about the work I made, the breakthrough pieces, my choice of medium and materials. And maybe I will in another post. But here’s the honest truth. I was ready to show up and make a lot of work. I was prepared to push myself to go deeper. I was looking forward to luxe accommodations and exploring the grounds and the town.
But what blindsided me was the degree to which I would fall in love with my fellow residents. After 2+ years of being an isolated pod person, I felt socially awkward and dreaded having to engage with strangers for 4 weeks. Luckily from what I could tell, socializing was limited to dinners and sporadic evening events.
I never imagined a gathering of such talented, brilliant, wickedly funny people. We laughed, danced, sang, cried, explored, told stories, bore witness, made art, played dress up, took chances, and bared our souls. My final Instagram reel contains no images of the mountains of art we made. Just photos of people falling in love, making memories that will last a lifetime. All in the span of 28 days.
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I’m so grateful to art collector Paul Drinkwine for inviting me to partake in his project, Lost In Composition, “an art blog focusing on living artists and their works.” What a gift, to have this growing record of folks making art in our region at this moment in time.
Our conversation covered a 30 year span ~ starting with my activism, then moving through my work in film, photography, parenting, and finally visual art. What a rare treat to have this much time and space to reflect on my life and creative journey!
Paul created this dedicated page for our conversation which includes his reflections, images of work we discussed, and links to other artists mentioned in our conversation.
I look forward to seeing who he selects for future episodes…
Just published my Newsletter with updates on 1) creative collaborations with filmmakers, authors, musicians & chefs, 2) my foray into teaching, and 3) shows in venues around town.
You can click the Subscribe button at the top of the page if you would like receive my newsletters (I send out 2-3 a year).
Online Conversation with Eliaichi Kimaro & Shalene Valenzuela
Wednesday, March 9, 6-7pm PST
FREE with Advance Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAod-Gvrz0rGNATDbbx2- JD1pXhLE-Y7hWQ
Mini Confabs & MAC Speaks Series: Conversations BY artists FOR artists. The Robert B. McMillen Foundation in collaboration with Gallery One and Allied Arts of Whatcom County are hosting conversation, skillbuilding and networking opportunities FOR artists BY artists.
Do you struggle with pricing your work? Set the price too low and you could leave money on the table, set the price too high and your artwork could start stacking up in your studio. How do you find the sweet spot that ensures you are getting paid fairly for your work? How do you deal with gallery commissions vs direct sales out of your studio, and what about reproductions? It looks different for each artist. Join us for a conversation and hear how two artists tackle this topic!
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The following process photos show the evolution of this painting. The captions are pulled from Chris’s initial email…but you can find a beautiful rendition of The Herbfarm’s history on their website.
It was built from the ground up…
The restaurant flourished…
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I was contacted by a member of the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet. As part of their upcoming virtual Seattle Town Hall performance, “Something to Write Home About,” this Multi Grammy-nominated quartet is inspiring audiences to move beyond passive listening by sharing the stories, letters and interviews that expose the inner workings of composers’ creative processes. And for this performance, Spektral Quartet will be using writing prompts and postcards to invite audience members to reflect on their own life stories.
Wanting to partner with a Seattle artist to provide the artwork for these postcards, they came across my website and felt the mood of my photography was the perfect complement for their writing prompts. So they reached out with an invitation to collaborate! The process couldn’t have been easier, and the conversations that followed have been profound and illuminating. (More on this soon…)
Everyone who buys tickets before 1/21 will receive their stamped postcard six-pack in the mail the week of the show. Performance is on Fri. 2/12 at 7:30pm PT. Tickets can be purchased HERE.