Middle of the image, toward the top? See the high school track there? I’m just below it. The village is really only a few streets wide, and the Mendocino Art Center played a huge – no, not just huge, a vital part in revitalizing the town. I’m so happy to be a part of it.
And, to be part of the amazing place we are in. When the ocean is really revving up, I can hear waves from all three sides – the most often from the Mendocino Bay, toward the bottom (south). The waves get confused there, and pound in from several directions. But, when the surf’s really high, the loudest boom is to the west (towards the left, here). They pound and pound against the bluffs and that little inlet, where there’s a bit of a cavern that echoes the sound, all the way to my studio.
I’m so privileged to be here, to be an Artist in Residence.
You may be surprised by that thought, if you’ve read my blog about the anxieties of my first month. They seem so distant, now. I’m not saying it isn’t often still challenging and weirdly lonely, considering that I’ve always valued time alone – but I’ve turned my focus to challenging myself. And I know, I haven’t shared much of the experience, yet. Even a few lines from my journal would have been nice, like – Wow, when the mist clears, the stars are so bright! or – what an amazing sunset. That would have been nice. It turns out that I really needed to be inward with it before I shared. And I’ve been inward.
So here is what I’m doing: The Intent of my Residence program here, as I put it in my Initial AIR Presentation in the beginning of October, is to bring my work above the surface and to paint about the experience of Mendocino.
I had to experience it first. Apparently without diluting it by putting too much of it on Social Media. There’s something about sharing … don’t get me wrong, I love to share. But when something important is happening to you? I found I had to enclose myself with it, for a while. Get it inside before I give it away. Let it have weight.
So this is what I’ve been doing. Trudging around a lot by the Headlands, on the beaches, working to understand sea foam and imbed the visuals of the forever booming and receding ocean as it hits in multiple directions around the hundreds of rock formations and bluffs. And the work is really starting to happen. Starting to get a feel for layers of rocks and water and roiling kelp beds and exploring new combinations of transparent paints to form the base of a palette that works with this newish medium that is always a fascination to me.
And, in keeping with the AIR Presentation, for a while I began working to capture the iridescent wings of the hundreds of magnificent Ravens in the area.
But that’s gotten a bit sidetracked. It seems any extra painting I need to do is either pure nonobjective abstract, or abstracts about the California wildfires instead. I try not to do the fires, but I find myself with a bottle of burnt orange in one hand and quinacridone gold in the other, and I have to succumb to the urge, yet again, and mix a good pour amount up. I don’t think these are for sale, or will be anytime soon, or at least perhaps I can figure out how to also help the fire victims with them. Especially if they keep coming.
And, it finally occurred to me, I need to figure out a way to do the roads in and out of town. This is such a part of my experience there – anyone’s experience, really. It’s worth it to get there, but I have yet to make that drive without sweaty hands. Almost, the last time. Almost.
Mostly, I’m challenging myself to think about my experiences here (and getting here), and be here in the moment. Then, get myself into the studio and prep panels and mix up the paint and be ready.
And let the creativity work out how to paint about it.
We’ll see how this works.
This is gonna be interesting. I started to type out fun … but honestly, parts of it will be fun. A lot of it will be work. Engaging work, sure – and that’s fun. But, not like a party. There’s a lot of introspection and just working involved. Heck of a lot more fun than when I was a paralegal, sure, and other than when I helped out artists, more fun than managing the arts center. But work. Good work.
Here’s to good work, then, huh?