Deliece Blanchard, one of the Artist in Residence this October shares her thoughts and diary with us to help us gain more insight into an artist’s creative process.
Day 1 Tuesday, Oct. 1 – I arrived bringing six paintings for the Arts on Main Gallery. The large “Morris Orchard Cabin” NFS, and five smaller paintings representing the Blue Ridge landscapes near me.
Day 2 Wednesday, Oct. 2 – I got up early and painted a small study of the boathouse at dawn. Walked around the point, noting the statues, architecture. Came home and played with photos of water reflections using gouache, and at 5:00 I painted the tree lined entry road.
Day 3 Thursday, Oct. 3 – At the boathouse by 6:45! Simple study of the sunrise. Then three paintings of the view looking back toward land. I’m trying to understand water. – These things – 1. Reflections 2. Color 3. Transparency – mostly the first two. Also, the way a tiny disturbance (e.g.. boat in the distance) affects a huge body of water, and that ripple response can be quite delayed. The distortion of the surface creates very INTERESTING organic, linear shapes in reflections. Very interested in the boathouse window and reflection. Also, thinking about how this solitude is affecting me. Trying to slow down. “No one needs me. No one is trying to reach me. I’m not performing. I don’t need to paint to please anyone.” It is very important for one to experiment and fail. It’s necessary for children, scientists, musicians, and artists.
Day 4 Friday, Oct. 4 – Overcast and windy. I walked around the gardens, feeling a little like a voyeuer. Then did a pencil sketch of boathouse window. Comfortably sitting in a chair sketching, I began to hear an extra lapping sound and turned to see a boat with three fishermen passing close by. It was like having strangers drift by my living room. a mutual silent hand wave – no speaking. Weird but nice. I was very aware of the cooler breezy air. Reflections minimal because of the breeze.
Thinking about the paradox of education. I love workshops with admired artists. I was very impressed that Kathleen Dunphy continues to learn from others, and she directed our class to Roz Stendahl’s online “Drawing in Public” class, which was life changing. However, I think you eventually need to tune out the advice. You can’t find your voice or solve your mystery with someone else’s technique. Looking at the water, I continually saw it differently, fighting against the assumptions in my head…..
Day 6 Sunday, Oct. 6 – Back down at the boathouse this morning because the air was still. Good reflections despite the overcast sky. So quiet. Listening to geese and the occasional flopping fish. Did three studies of the window reflections using black and white acrylic gouache. Challenging abstract and MOVING patterns. Patrick Saunders says “Paints what scares you.” Many things in plein air painting are challenges for me. Painting around people, dealing with adverse weather, carrying my equipment, but when it comes to subject matter, it is definitely painting anything that moves that I try to avoid. Today, painting the gently rippling reflections was an exercise in intense observation of the whole, the fleeting details, and working from memory. But, I had a comfortable seat, the quiet setting, and the satisfaction of visually meditating on a small aspect of the phenomenon of water and light.
Day 7 Monday, Oct. 7 – I did a sunrise painting of the river, and another study inside the boathouse.
I’ve been wondering how to tell the fourth grade students at Botetourt about what an “artist in residence” is. I’ve had several residencies and in the beginning I often feel undeservedly lucky to have the opportunity. Here, I’m surrounded by natural beauty and have a lovely cottage with a studio, a washer and dryer, an electric tea kettle and most of all TIME. People probably don’t realize that for many plays, novels, symphonies, and paintings to come into existence, the artist had help and support. I am so grateful that this residency is allowing me to explore, experiment, and work without interruptions. Because it is so precious, I’m not wasting a minute! Work, work, work!!