This summer I had an amazing chance to spend two weeks at the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe for an artist residency. It was an absolute game-changer for my art journey, spending time painting, reading, drawing and making time to walk in the beautiful valley where the studio is located.
For those two weeks, my world revolved around my art. I practically lived in the studio from dawn ’til dusk pushing myself to experiment with new techniques and ideas. I love painting and printing with encaustic due to its translucent qualities, wide range of colors and, of course, the smell of the beeswax is intoxicating.
But my time wasn’t all confined to the studio. The beauty of the Cerrillos Valley was right there, and I made sure to soak it in. I took long, leisurely walks, letting nature’s sights, sounds and textures seep into my consciousness. I gathered up some of the red dirt and mixed it with my encaustic paint to be used in the monotypes. This paint added an incredible earthy element to my work, blending natural elements with creativity. The monotype shown in the gallery below is one of those works using the handmade paint.
As a part of the residency, I was asked to teach an advanced monotype class. Six talented artists spent a full day pulling prints and sharing their work. Watching them dive deep into their creative instincts was inspiring, and collaborating with them was a reminder of how important it is to have an artistic community.
Now, let’s talk books. “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Rilke and “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri were books I read everyday during my stay. Rilke was an Austrian poet and novelist whose book “Letters to a Young Poet” is a compilation of ten letters written to Franz Xaver Kappus, a young cadet in the army who was considering a life as a poet. Rilke advises Kappus that “Noboby can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only way to go. Go into yourself.” Rilke’s letters helped to guide me into my own art even when there was doubt.
Robert Henri’s book “The Art Spirit” were lectures he gave to his students at the Art Students League of New York. His book has been a source of inspiration for artists from David Lynch to George Bellows. I believe it is a “must read” for any artist interested in tapping into their own creative resources.
These books reminded me that the struggles and doubts I sometimes face are just stepping stones to growth.
Looking back, I’m beyond grateful for those two weeks. They were like a creative pressure cooker, pushing me to explore new techniques and help open up myself to bring personal meaning and experiences to the work.