After reading through my previous 5 posts, all of which tend to highlight food in some way or another, one might think ‘A Hungry Artist’s View’ would be a more suitable name for this blog rather than ‘An Artist’s View’. Alas, this trip to Italy was not only about the pleasure of eating good grub, it was particularly about art making. Certainly, it was brimming with fantastic flavors and foods, but the joy of having time and space to dedicate solely towards my creative endeavors was the real gift.
I arrived at the Arte Studio Ginestrelle residency with a creative plan of attack that consisted of multiple projects.
1. Write and photograph my journey through Italy. Launching a blog seemed like the appropriate way to go about doing this. And so, ‘An Artist’s View’, came into existence. This collection of articles that is focused on my time in Italy, can be found at veronasorensen.ca/blog.
2. Further develop my ability to depict and render a figurative image through painting exercises and studies. A ‘Joie de Vivre’ painting series, where birds are flying in the sky through billowing clouds and rays of sunlight, became one of my main themes of exploration.
A few Morandi studies emerged as well.
3. Continue to explore the video/painting project, ‘The Absence and Presence of Images’, that I’ve been collaborating on with a filmmaker for some years. I brought some video equipment with me to the residency in order to capture footage that would later be projected onto the surfaces of some paintings.
4. I had not intended to paint around the topic of turning 40, however this transitory exploration happened of it’s own accord. I found myself placing certain numbers in my paintings and quickly realized that some part of me was reflecting on my 30’s and my memories of the years past, as well as preparing for the quickly approaching new decade. While I was at the residency I did turned 40, and as a gesture of honoring this rite of passage, a body of 15 small abstract oil paintings emerged.
Every artist has their unique way of constructing a daily routine around their art. Within the first week of being at the residency I began to discover what my new working groove was.
Morning time was for writing. At approximately 7am, I would automatically wake up, open my window and begin writing in my notebook. During my first days I wrote directly into my computer, but after it once ate an entire blog I had just finished, I decide the notebook is the way to go. No more gobbling up of my words on a whim. This is the kind of relationship I have with technology. We don’t completely get along or trust each other just yet. It’s never been an easy or smooth fit, but on this trip I set out on a mission to make amends with technology. However, even though it has its place, I am often reminded how nature plays the bigger part. Too frequently I do forget what a powerful influence nature is, until I’m actually immersed in it. The view from my window, sun or snow, is always a spectacular thing to see first thing in the morning. Opening my window to these Italian hills and letting the fresh air in, as I peek my head out and remember where I am, had me seriously waking up and feeling happy to be alive. This is the way I want to be starting my day. And nature, far more than technology keeps me connected in that right kind of way.
9am is time for breakfast with the other artists. I find this communal engagement to be a good way of shifting out of the internal morning “alone time” and re-syncing with a more collective routine. After we spend an hour or two together savoring the home-cooked breakfast, I leisurely make my way towards the next phase of creating.
Around 11am, I either continue with my writing or I head upstairs to the attic to paint in the studio. During my first week, no one else worked in the attic and I spent most of my time beginning the new series, “Turning 40”.
At one point during a particularly glorious sunny day, when I was the only artist at the residency, I headed to the outdoor studio with my paints in hand and proceeded to work in the sun. For hours I plugged away, while Marina, Lorenzo and Andrea attended to what needed addressing around the residency. Lorenzo mowed the lawn, Andrea did the laundry and cleaned the rooms of the artists who had just left, and Marina drove those artists to the train station and later addressed the managerial responsibilities on her computer.
I felt completely at home, as we all silently and easefully engaged in our various tasks under the sun.
For 5 hours I gave myself permission to forget about technology and only paint. I green-taped the edges of my little canvas pad surfaces and began to lay down the grounds. Remembering my 30’s, I revisited some of the numbers passed on. Oddly enough, the stencil number ‘9’ mysteriously disappeared. As I was still 39, the stencil felt fairly important to me. Where did it go? I wanted to savor my last days of being 39 via my art, before the big 4–0. Did the wind perhaps take it away a few days too early?
I took it as a sign that it was time to let go of the old and prepare for the new number instead. Nonetheless, I still fervently searched for it, more out of curiosity as to its sudden disappearance than anything. Finally weeks later the ‘9’ stencil reemerged. It was stuck to the bottom of one of my paint boxes, adhered with what was once wet paint. The mystery was no longer. Ha!
Nonetheless, I decided to keep the message of this newly solved riddle:
‘Age is but a number, a fleeting moment in eternity.’
I would like to acknowledge, at this point in time, those who were especially supportive of me and my vision over the last six months. Your encouragement, in their various forms, is deeply appreciated and I am especially thankful for the wonderful friendships that I’ve discovered along the way.
Marina Merli and the Arte Studio Ginestrelle Residency family
The Ginestrelle artists in residence
Oleg Hevyk and the SilverMoon crew
Robert and James Gorga
Felix Von Geyer and Mikko Saressalo
Cynthia T. Marchand
Jason Godfrey Rennalls
Sandra Simao Andrade
Grazie, grazie, grazie!