Saturday, April 7, 2012

Artfest 2012

I finally got to an Artfest, that wonderful art retreat organized and run by the amazing Teesha Moore and her husband Tracy. I'd been wanting to go for a couple years, since a friend had attended and told me how life-changing it was. But given the distance and the cost involved, it wasn't something easily achieved. When I discovered this was to be the last one, I knew I had to get there... it was just as wonderful as I had been told and though I'm sad I won't be able to do this again, I am just happy that I got there at all.

The dorms
I got home from Seattle on Wednesday totally exhausted, exhilarated and needing a bit of time to get my thoughts and photos together. Where does one start? I guess the best place is the location itself, the historic Fort Warden in Port Townsend, WA. The dorms were old army barracks. See those old windows? They are as drafty as you think they would be. The first night I was so cold I hardly slept... but overall the site was great. A short walk to a very scenic beach, deer so tame they wandered around on the site, lots of space for the classrooms. The two women I arranged to carpool with were so much fun, we ended up spending most of the week together.

Jesse Reno doing his thing
I signed up for a two day workshop with Jesse Reno called "Freedom to Create". He's an unbelievably prolific painter, and he works completely intuitively, which goes against everything I've ever been taught. I love this process. For two days we painted with our hands, diving right in and making decisions as we went along. No thumbnails, no sketches. After  two days I came out with three finished paintings completely different from anything I've ever done before. My next day was spent with Erin Faith Allen, whose process is also very intuitive. Both artists do the work first, then examine it to see what the images are trying to tell them. I found the coincidence in this pretty amazing, since I had no idea of their methods before I signed up.... obviously, this is exactly what I needed to hear, and I think it has totally changed how I approach a painting.

The crowd at the artist market
There was an Artist's Market one evening at the Fort. This was a complete eye-opener for me. There was actually a line-up outside the building before the doors opened. I have never been to any kind of art event where there was this kind of interest (of course there were 600 artists already in the area... I'm sure that helped). The crowds were incredible, and people were buying, not just browsing. Even the big events here in Toronto don't generate that kind of interest. For the first time in my life I'm seeing that it's not impossible to make a living as an artist, you just have to be creative in getting your name and your work out there.

This was truly an amazing experience. I made some wonderful new friends and connected with a lot of like-minded people. Artfest formed a community: artists from all over gathering once a year to create and learn. I got to attend only one, and that will just have to do. I hope something pops up to fill the void.

me and my new friends on the beach