Hello everyone! You can consider this the first of (hopefully) many blog posts documenting my fall artist residency. I hope to make a weekly blog post about my goings-on in Ireland, but if you know me at all, you know my posts aren’t the most timely (I still haven’t posted any photos on FB from graduation in May, or updated my travel blog with posts from my winter trip to Jamaica, or my summer trip to Iceland and Scotland…)
Anyway. This is a brief introduction to my upcoming residency at the Burren College of Art. For those of you not in the art world, a residency is basically an opportunity for an artist to live at a place (be it a college or camp or gallery or whatever) for a period of time, and given a space and/or stipend with which they spend the entire time making art.
Before I even knew I would be graduating a year early, I applied to the Burren Immersion artist residency because it felt like a fantastic fit. Geared towards those in a transitional phase in their life – perfectly describing my “gap” year – this residency offers a small number of artists a studio and lodging for 12 whole weeks in the Burren in County Clare, Ireland. This region of Ireland is particularly unique given the rocky landscape, flora and fauna, and innate ability to inspire art. Be it the beautiful coast and landscape, scientific and historical significance of the area, or general ambience of isolation and otherworldliness, the Burren is wholly singular. It has inspired artists, poets, musicians, authors, and more over many centuries. I hope it does for me, too.
While there, I will be living in the Lodge and will have full access to my own studio on the nearby campus. One exciting feature of campus is the Newtown Castle, which holds some lecture spaces and one of the campus’ galleries; maybe by the end of my residency I can truthfully say my art was shown in a literal castle!
The walk through the countryside to campus is about 15 minutes, and with lots of trails, the coast, and Ballyvaughan village nearby, I hope to do lots of hiking (when its not raining). Within walking distance of my lodging are the Aillwee Caves and what is perhaps the most famous dolmen in Ireland: Poulnabrone dolmen. If you google it, I’m sure you’ll recognize it instantly. Also, as the Burren is one of the darkest places in Ireland in terms of light pollution, I can’t wait to spend some time stargazing – who knows what inspiration it might bring to my work.
My main goal while there is to produce a number of portfolio-worthy works in a range of mediums, but most specifically oil and watercolor painting and printmaking. I definitely want to try plein air painting, and especially want to practice landscape painting, so the Burren seems like the perfect place to do so. Additionally, I’m going to challenge myself to draw every day. Illustration used to be my primary medium, but after a few years of hardcore art block, we’ve had a bit of a falling out. I bought a sketch book with the express purpose of cataloging my 12 weeks abroad through drawing. Whether it’s a quick sketch or a serious study, I want to document something daily. Also: I already have an idea of a new piece to start while I’m there! It’s something I haven’t had the time or space to create yet, but at BCA, I’ll have nothing but time and space.
Prior to actually arriving in the Burren, I’m taking a trip with my good friend Krystal! She’ll be in Spain this fall, and as we both had to be in Europe about the same time, we decided to hit up Scotland before each of our programs began. We’ll be spending 10 nights there, split between Edinburgh and Inverness! I’ll be documenting that on my travel blog – but who knows what inspiration might pop up while I’m there!
I’m quite curious to see what comes of this residency, both in terms of art and personal growth. It feels like the first step towards working as a (semi-)professional artist rather than as a “student.” And between my daily-sketchbook and weekly-blog post goals, I hope at the very least I can train myself to actually stick to self-imposed schedules. Regardless, I can’t wait!