Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Week Away

The main house where the retreats are held.
Studio space on one side, b&b on the other. 
I spent my vacation from my day job this year at Creativity Art Retreat, in Dunedin Ontario. I live only about an hour and a half away from Dunedin, but I had to look on a map to see where it was... I'd never heard of it. There's not much there, but for a week of uninterrupted creation time, that works extremely well.

The place is like going to a country cottage. There's an old claw foot bathtub in the upstairs bathroom... and a door that opens onto a balcony. Yes, from the bathroom. The place is right beside the river, and they held daily yoga classes outside on the deck where you could hear the river rushing through. The owner, Lynn Connell, is quite the powerhouse. She is not only an accomplished painter, but she also founded the art retreat, AND an orphanage in Africa. Pretty inspiring person to spend a week with. Shelly, who handles all the day to day stuff, is really warm and welcoming. Within a day or two it felt like I was visiting with a friend instead of a paying guest. I had an overwhelming urge to help with the dishes. She wouldn't let me.

The artist that worked across from me for
the week.
Lynn and another participant working away.
My workshop was with Steve Rose. "Freedom of Expression: Abstraction to Non-Objective painting". I have a lot of good things to say my instructor. He reads people extremely well... He's one of those people who takes about 5 minutes to figure out what you need to get out of the course, and changes his approach to suit. There were a couple people who were new to abstract painting, and to those people he gave a fair bit of guidance. For those of us who have been on the path for a bit, it was more of a question/answer session... did you try this? What happens if you do that? He gave me some problem solving skills that will help when I run into my usual compositional issues. Light or dark? Tear a page out of a magazine and stick it on... which way looks more balanced? Stuff like that... it was immensely helpful. I left with four, good size paintings in my car that were more or less finished, along with a few smaller ones that were done in my usual less-than-planned way, but utilizing what I'd learned and making them work. And while I wasn't really sure about them at the time, they've grown on me. And I'm feeling a bit more confident that I can continue on, and maybe actually get somewhere.

The "living" room. Books everywhere, and all art books. Must have
taken years to amass such a collection. I could have spent the week just in here. 
The kitchen of the main guest house. There was another house on the property,
and a group of participant stayed there.
The main studio space. Lovely and bright with lots of windows.