The moose, the actress, the country singer, the magic bunny, the novelist, the one-percenters, the opera composer, the surreal mule deer herd and the occult were all elements of the the best days of Brush Creek. Did I forget the eye-poppin’ cinematic sunrises peeking over the snowy mountain range that you think are maybe Hollywood special effects? Oh yeah, gin and tonics at Falcon’s Peak as the stars creep out. Every day at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts was special and somehow the hours run into each other with no notice of day of the week or sometimes time of day. It is a mind drift. I should also mention that this residency is in Wyoming in the Medicine Bow National Forest at one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the country.
It was an honor to have been selected previously in 2015, but this time was really different. I knew a little more of what to expect and how to establish realistic goals that would push my work forward. The group I was now with was a little more mature, and greedier for time, space, and growth. In addition, Sharon Hawkins (el Jefe and Director) had added many little touches that tightened things up and made everything more enjoyable. Other residents were chill and all very self-directed and extremely competent in their own disciplines. It was always a mesmerizing pleasure to hear them share their personal processes, backgrounds, and obstacles. Seems like everybody had taught at one time or another and the stories were perpetually entertaining. Many of these people will remain lasting friends I am sure.
I had previously determined how many pieces would be done (at minimum) and in what sizes and format. I had pre-built cradled panels 20 x 20 and 18 x 24 inches at my home studio. The work done on Canson Montvale 140 lbs. paper would be laminated (NOVA Super Gel) to the panels when I returned and serve as studies for larger (42 x 42 inches and up) more abstract pieces later. I had arrived with over 1500 photos from Morocco, a large itinerary map, diaries, and notes from our trip to Morocco a few weeks earlier. Morocco represented a completely different culture and experience and was bouncing around inside my head. I needed to organize my thoughts and get some of this stuff visually out. Seems kinda wacky to work on images of Marrakesh in the spectacular wilds of Wyoming, but that’s the way it went for the first couple weeks. Night and Day. Had trouble sleeping so I simply gave up and painted late at night or early (2 am) in the morning until I got tired. Took a nap and then resumed. Just kept this regimen up for a couple weeks. I only took a couple hikes and trips to town, but mostly concentrated on my obsession to get some of this stuff down on paper. Some of the images came easy and were done in several hours and others took up to 30 hours each. All will be more abstracted as they get larger. I looked at my photos, but depended and trusted little thumbnail sketches that I did for each image. Those become the Bible to work from. I did not have my usual tools and bag of tricks handy and the simpler tools certainly altered the imagery, many times for the better. If I had it to do over, all the images would have been only black and white. This would have saved significant shipping costs for art supplies and would have simplified the imagery even more. Next time I hope.
I talked to my long-deceased father there on hikes, and forced myself to hike beyond my normal endurance. I even thought of trying to have my ashes scattered there. I think that may have scared Sharon Hawkins just a tad bit. This part of the world has obviously stamped my mind indelibly. Great, great place. Thank you Mrs.
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