Rensing Center Week One

Greetings from upstate South Carolina!

I arrived at the Rensing Center last Sunday evening (wow! it's already been a week!) after a wonderful (and too short) visit with my Mom in southeast Virginia. We cooked, talked, and rooted through old stuff (you know how Moms keep your old stuff) and reminisced. 

 I ended up having a choice of where to stay b/c another resident cancelled so I took the more secluded (no Internet) cottage nestled in the woods on the edge of the property. It's called the Pottery, because it was and still can be used in that manner, but also works well for other disciplines. It took a couple of days to get moved in and settled in my studio/living space. 

My living/working space: The Pottery, with tiered vegetable, flower, and outdoor sculpture gardens to the north. 

My living/working space: The Pottery, with tiered vegetable, flower, and outdoor sculpture gardens to the north. 

It's been quite an adjustment, in a good way. So many differences, both external (weather, flora and fauna, local customs, radio stations!) and internal (a completely open schedule- which means lots of time to think, observe, write, contemplate, and make). I've been experimenting with materials and thinking about several projects that I think will begin to take form in the coming weeks. 

I've noticed that a residency of this length doesn't have the urgency to 'do' that shorter ones have, so it requires some structure or I'd while away the days just enjoying the other-worldly garden behind my cottage. So I've tried to apply a flexible schedule to stay open to inspiration but still setting some daily/weekly goals for myself. I was able to complete this first painting this week. I'm posting pics of works in progress on Instagram and Facebook, so if you're interested you can follow me there. 

Untitled, 24 x 24", acrylic and mixed media on canvas. ©2015 kristen m. watson

Untitled, 24 x 24", acrylic and mixed media on canvas. ©2015 kristen m. watson

Mostly I'm just super grateful to have the time to let my mind slow down. I can feel it happening. It's crazy to think how fast-paced my life is in VT, and I'm reminded of the value of practicing Presence. So that's what this week has mostly been about. Of course I've also had some nice talks and shared meals with the other resident, writer Paulette Alden, as well as the Rensing staff and farmhands. Ellen, the founder and director of the Center, is a talented and recognized craft artist with a long and successful career before the Rensing endeavor began. She's also an accomplished gardener, community activist, and the voice of green living in Pickens. 

the back patio at the Pottery, Rensing Center, S.C.

the back patio at the Pottery, Rensing Center, S.C.

Important learning this week: to walk outside in SC you must have a spider web stick to swing to and fro, up and down in front of you, unless you like a face full of webs. The spiders here are vast, varied, stunningly beautiful (I have a load of photos) and prolific and artistic web-builders. I keep a stick at each door to grab on my way out. :) 

 
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Kristen M. Watson

Kristen makes and teaches art in a broad range of media. She’s a licensed art educator and masters of Art education candidate at St. Michael’s college. She was also recently accepted to the teaching artist roster for Vermont Arts Council. As a teaching artist, Kristen splits her time between her home studio and the classroom. She teaches analog, digital, and stop-motion (claymation) processes to children and adults at Burlington City Arts. She’s also teaches visual arts at Davis Studio, Burlington. Kristen’s work focuses on mixed media painting, analog photography, ceramics, and small scale assemblage. She exhibits her work locally and regionally in both group and solo shows, and has been selected for several juried exhibits. Her work is also held in private collections. She has recently completed an artist residency in mixed media painting at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.