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Fresh Perspective

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

A Winter Artist Residency


Monthly Mantra: Remember to look up at the stars and the moon.





Winter brings, for me, a much needed respite after the busy holidays. It is a quieter part of nature’s cycle, and of my art schedule! I need a little dormancy, a break from more bustling seasons but with the promise of future revival and new energy. This January, I found myself with a full week to enjoy my quiet season, with an artist residency with Centrum at the Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington. This brought me full circle, as I’d started my Field Project in January of 2022. Spending time in nature, returning to a wetland, pond, or trail repeatedly throughout a season or a week, there is an art to observation, repetition, and to experimentation afterwards. It’s important to take time out from daily routines, to look at things from a new angle, literally or figuratively, and to discover something new. This is true for artists, or for any humans!


Initially, I did a bit of wandering, physically and mentally, with walks in the woods, lots of sketching, collecting fallen branches and leaves to borrow in the studio right next door to the trails, watching an eagle soar over sunrise while holding my coffee mug, enjoying strolls in the early dark as Orion accompanied me from studio to cabin.


Shortly a theme emerged. In my art, I often look to the horizon, or at a sweeping vista. During the many visits to the beaver pond as part of last year’s Field Project, I started highlighting more constrained views, smaller moments in space-time. The log draped over the water, bleached grasses blowing in the wind, the surprise red of a woodpecker’s crest above on a snap, rippling reflections, these were little gems I began to notice more often, and bring into my work. At Fort Worden, in the chill of a wintery and wet lowland forest, I began to look downward at a different layer of the forest, the forest floor.


A rich carpet of mosses and lichen on fallen limbs, brambles and baby trees, dry leaves and deep green pine needles - winter's greens and deep earth tones offered a rich but subtle palette and an almost entirely new landscape. Often I literally brush over these areas, a few strokes of paint on the canvas to represent all that “stuff” below the trees. At the residency I reveled in that layer below the canopy that usually draws my eye, to the space that connects living and dying, that links with the understory and the mycelium network below ground.





As the week would fly by, especially in terms of oil paint drying, I opted to work in water based media for the most part. Using pencil, ink, and goauche, I explored this new landscape zone, journeying over the contours of lichen and sprightly, bright green mosses, comparing the nuances of different evergreen needles and cones. It was truly a joy to slow down, to observe familiar things from a different angle. The process offers lessons to bring back to daily life: explore something new, pause and savor the experience, remain open.


I'd like to thank Centrum for their generosity in providing the time and space to create. I’d also like to acknowledge that the location of Port Townsend was once a thriving village of the nəxwsƛáy'm' (S’Klallam) People. The name of the S’Klallam village was called qatáy (kuh-tai), which was a word that originated from the Chimacum Tribe, and was adopted by the S’Klallam. There are S’Klallam citizens that still reference Port Townsend by its original name to this day. The S’Kallam’s chief, číčməhán (Chetzamoka), was born in qatáy in 1808. This acknowledgement is a respect to the S’Klallam People, their history, and continued presence here.

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