Vernon Artist Residency 2015

A month later and I have finally had some time to process and reflect on my most recent experience…

I spent a long weekend adventuring in Vernon a few years back, and ever since I have been eager to get back to the Okanagan. As luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to return on a month+ long artist residency with the Caetani Cultural Centre this past August/September.  After only a week, I was amazed at what I could accomplish working in the studio full time. A lot can happen when you step away, and really create.

The centre itself is an extraordinary heritage home and garden, and the little orange cabin was my darling little studio. Vernon is surrounded by lakes, forest, desert, vineyards, and hills, it’s hard not to be inspired.  The Okanagan is a breathtaking area. If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a trip.

To say it was a breezy art loving time (as my highlighted may pictures depict) would not be entirely true.  I’m not quite sure how to portray overcoming major mental barriers. The first week+ was shockingly hard. I found myself in a deep solitude, surrounded by my own criticism and high expectations. Nothing, and I mean nothing felt right. Nothing was working out the way I “wanted.” You would be surprised at how much work I didn’t photograph.

I coached myself with the usual “follow your own path” “just create and have fun” “experiment!” – but I couldn’t help but wonder “what am I doing?!” followed by a dramatic “why am I even an artist” rant. Going out of your box is obviously terrifying and confusing, especially when there is no instant positive outcome. I was over thinking and overwhelmed. Here I finally was, where I worked to hard to be,and I was internally freaking out and doubting myself.

Thankfully, after some attitude adjustments, I took a step back.

When you really take the time to  focus your energy positively, your perspective will shift. It was clear to me that endlessly worrying about what I could or couldn’t accomplish wasn’t going to help anything.

So, I continued to put in the hours at the studio every single day. However, I also allowed myself to breath and to simply engage in all that surrounded me. I was on trip right!?

I went to artist talks, met bee keepers, watched the birds in my backyard, and went on bike rides. I carved out time for reading, for photography, for writing and for sketching. I hung out with friends, got tattooed, drank good wine, went on hikes, and road tripped around the valley. I went to the gym,  ate at tasty restaurants, and enjoyed the local farmers market! In the meantime, things started to finally come together in the studio…

It’s an odd sensation in the studio, when suddenly you realize everything you did up to that point was paving a path towards that abrupt ah-ha moment. It really shouldn’t be surprising (hello obvious!) but it always is.

After vigorously committing myself to my art practice, after countless hours of painting, drawing, collaging, and researching, while simultaneously indulging in American Dad, Netflix documentaries and soundcloud remixes,  I FINALLY felt the satisfaction of creating new work that I found both vibrant and exciting! MY priority was the creative process – to be constantly building up layers, playing with different colours and intricate textures. Experimenting. Exploring. Some things worked, others didn’t, but I toasted to all the happy accidents and played with mountains, maps, bees all day. It had been a long time since I truly slapped paint around and embraced the outcome.

It felt wonderful. It felt right. By the end, I knew as I stepped back to observe my studio walls that I had discovered true progress.

And progress it is, and will continue to be.

**** All images were taken by me and are the property of Danielle Folkerts. Using them in any way without my permission is a strict violation of Copyright Law. All images may not be copied or reproduced for any purpose without written consent from the artist, before and after purchase. Thank you.****

 

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