My 1-Month residency at the Vermont Studio Center feels like a dream that I wish I had never woken up from! A soon as I had arrived, I knew that I was going to be part of something spectacular. The creative energy was abundant and buzzing amongst the 55+ artists and writers, as soon as we stepped foot onto the “campus”. We all fed off of this positive vibe and took it as a motivator to be productive in our own unique ways.
Most of my time in Vermont was spent in my studio, located in Church Studios. The building was newly renovated due to a recent fire. I was extremely happy with my studio space and the beautiful natural light that came with the tall church windows. I immediately went to work and was determined to be productive. What would’ve taken me 2 months to complete back at home (during the spare hours of weekday evenings and weekends), only took me 2 weeks while at the residency. I’m thrilled with the amount of progress I made on this new body of work and I only wish I could’ve stayed at the residency longer!
On Day 1, I started off by unpacking my paint squares from my Paint by Numbers series. The patterns were pre-planned as I had picked all the squares a couple days before my departure. By doing this I only brought the supplies that were necessary to make the projects I planned to work on during the residency.
After I finished unpacking, I started off by cross-stitching the first translation,Translation #1, from the Translation Series.
I was thrilled at how quickly I was able to get Translation #1 - Cross-Stitch finished. I figured out that I could get 1/4 complete in a day, which meant that I could complete a cross-stitch this size in 4 days if I put in 6-6.5 hours per day (something I could never do while at home). Before I started the next cross-stitch, I started working on the the first stitched painting, Pattern A.
Once I finished sewing Pattern A, I completed Translation #2 - Paint By Numbers and brought out the iron to get things that were done looking crisp and flat. After these were ironed and scanned, I started prepping the cross-stitch pattern for Translation #2 and planned out the embroidery floss colours.
As I continued to cross-stitch, I was starting to realize that I had not packed enough blue and green embroidery floss. I knew I had to buy more, but there wasn’t anywhere in Johnson, VT that sold embroidery floss. An employee from the residency suggested that I post something on the local neighbourhood forum. Within 1-day I was able to source a local resident who was willing to donate a beautiful stash of embroidery floss from her personal collection. She insisted that I take as much as I like, although I still had to restrain myself from taking too much. Afterwards it had started to rain and she kindly gave me a ride back into the main part of town (I had walked 20 min on the way there). I definitely hit the jackpot with this one and I’ll never forget this women’s generous offering!
At the end of the first week, I signed up for the Resident Presentations and gave a Pecha Kucha style artist talk (20 slides, 20 seconds each, 7 minutes total). Each week artists and writers shared their work both past and present. It was truly inspirational and insightful to hear everyone talk about their processes and ideas/concepts behind the work they create.
During the second week, I worked hard on completing Translation #2 - Cross-Stitch and Pattern B. As I was working on these simultaneously, I also began to think about the next stage of the Translation Series and went to the local art store to buy some supplies. I purchased 2 yards of raw canvas and acrylic gouache paint, which I’d been meaning to get around to trying! I usually only ever paint with acrylic paint and the occasional water colour.
After cutting up the raw canvas, I stapled a few pieces to the walls of my studio and primed them with gesso. Then I began testing out how I was going to paint by measuring and taping out, as precisely as possible, each square. Once I was comfortable with how the test was going, I moved onto preparing the canvas by measuring and numbering each column and row, which took a lot of concentration and patience. Finally I was ready to paint! During each “round” there were 64 squares exposed at a time, which I calculated to take me an average of 45 mins.
On Thursday, we had our first evening of Open Studios which was an amazing night of walking around to all the studios and seeing the hard work that everyone had created so far. See below for a slideshow of photos from the night.
On the weekend, I was feeling a little burnt out from all my hard work and walking around from Open Studios. My friend Lauren and I went for a walk to explore our natural surroundings and take photos (slideshow below). Then in the evening we stayed in, ate junk food, and watched a movie.
The following week, I started to rotate between three different stations in my studio: 1. Sewing Paint Squares, 2. Cross-Stitching, 3. Painting Squares.
Lauren and I also decided to go for another walk and we finally found “Journey’s End”, a trail that lead to a small waterfall. See slideshow below for photos taken during our nature walk and some other photos of Johnson, VT.
As the residency was starting to come to a close, I worked hard to finish the three works I had in progress. My goal was to finish the cross-stitch, the hand-stitched painting and the small test paintings all in time for the last Open Studio.
Lauren had to leave a couple days early to get back to NY for a class she was teaching, so we decided to revisit a restaurant in a nearby town called Stowe, for some delicious pizza from “Pie-casso” as a little farewell dinner.
The last couple of days I spent wrapping up my projects and working on submissions for various exhibitions and publications.
After finishing my projects, I cleaned up my studio and hung all of my finished pieces on the walls for the second round of Open Studios.
More photos from Open Studios round #2.
The last day of the residency was spent packing and cleaning up the studio, as well as saying goodbye to the space, Johnson, and the wonderful people I met along the way. I hope to return to the Vermont Studio Center someday and I’ll definitely be looking to do other residencies in the near future!