As I mentioned in my last post, several weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be asked back to the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT for Vermont Week, that brings together over 60 Vermont visual artists and writers for a week of intensive work. Each participant is given a modest bedroom with a shared bath and a spacious studio. Large and airy with pristine white walls, alot of light and very high ceilings, the studios are a pleasure to work in. Meals are eaten communally and the food is terrific featuring a fresh, localvore salad bar and artisanal bread. I will be working this week off at the gym for months to come..
I attended this week last year and didn't quite know what to expect going in. I finished about a dozen small watercolors and several small easel sized acrylics. Afterwards, I was kicking myself for not pushing myself out of my comfort zone and more importantly not taking advantage of the big space. So this year I brought along a large roll of canvas that I had bought several years ago (luckily primed, or I would have spent the first day house painting with gesso), a limited palette of liquid acrylics and some big ass brushes. This time I was going to paint BIG. Rather than having a hair dryer going all the time to dry washes on the big paintings, I always had a watercolor going and bounced back and forth between the two.
Just prior to my departure, I did some drawings in my sketchbook that I was very excited about. My plan was to do some paintings along these lines. Naturally, my plan morphed as I went along. I tried a number of different directions and generally was pleased with the results. Upon arriving back at my home studio, I rearranged things so that I could continue working on a larger scale. Trying to keep the mojo working.
So what's this got to do with illustration? I've always believed that personal work fuels the commercial work. I'm constantly learning things through my personal work that finds it's way into my illustration work. And as an illustrator who spends alot of time solo in the studio, the comraderie of this week went along way toward recharging my batteries. This was a wonderfully talented group of artists and writers, alot of whom I can now call friends.