Feeling Abundance: Gathering, Observing, Reflecting, Creating

A panoramic view of the western side of my live/work space at Rensing Center. 

A panoramic view of the western side of my live/work space at Rensing Center. 

It's been a time rich in observation, reflection, and transformation these past weeks at the Rensing Center. So much has unfolded I can't possibly describe it all. Here are some highlights...

The frog pond behind the Pottery (the live/work studio space in which I'm residing while at Rensing).

The frog pond behind the Pottery (the live/work studio space in which I'm residing while at Rensing).

I've been gathering inspiration by observing nature, having important and stimulating (and often humorous!) conversations with fellow artists, and just sitting, literally, to observe moments unfolding and noticing the abundance and order of life.

This contemplation and noticing is such an important element in my studio practice, the work that comes from it, and my life. I watch the spiders, centipedes, and butterflies do their work, then I go to work.  

A night's work for this thorny looking little guy. 

A night's work for this thorny looking little guy. 

Butterflies visit the Lantana plants daily in the Pottery garden. 

Butterflies visit the Lantana plants daily in the Pottery garden. 

 I've been journaling about my own studio practice, methods, materials, etc. I've been experimenting with it all and indulging every artistic whim as it comes without too much concern for the outcome at this point. This place is overflowing with materials, both natural and man-made, ripe with potential. I've been trying to utilize as much as I can- like the giant ball of thread scraps I discovered in a cabinet, likely left by a former resident. With it I created the piece below.

Untitled, 2015, 18x24 in. acrylic, conté crayon, pastel on paper. ©2015 kristenmwatson

Untitled, 2015, 18x24 in. acrylic, conté crayon, pastel on paper. ©2015 kristenmwatson

Untitled, 24x36 in. found thread scraps, centipede and snail remains, acrylic and pastel on paper. ©2015 kristen m. watson

Untitled, 24x36 in. found thread scraps, centipede and snail remains, acrylic and pastel on paper. ©2015 kristen m. watson

I unearthed a pile of metal heating grates that were repurposed as stencils. I've been experimenting with spray enamel on canvas and paper. 

Untitled work in progress, 24x24 in. acrylic and enamel on canvas. ©2015 kristen m. watson.

Untitled work in progress, 24x24 in. acrylic and enamel on canvas. ©2015 kristen m. watson.

Work in progress, spray enamel in altered book, 9x6 in. ©2015 kristen m. watson

Work in progress, spray enamel in altered book, 9x6 in. ©2015 kristen m. watson

I've also spent some time on the weekends touring the area and meeting a great diversity of upstate residents. From a silent hike led by a wonderful yoga instructor, to the Drinking Liberals social group (quite a few Bernie fans here) at nearby Clemson University, to the Civil War re-enactors, the virtuosic fiddlers who carry on the Scotch-Irish and Appalachian music tradition, the colorful characters at the weekly flea market, and the members of Soapstone Church (a black church founded by freed slaves and stewarded currently by their descendants), I can say that I've experienced a cross-section of the complex place that is upstate South Carolina.  I've posted photo albums on facebook so check it out. 

The abundance (an word/idea I've been working with since my arrival) of insight and ideas I'll bring home with me is daily revealing itself, and for that I'm unspeakably grateful. 

The ubiquitous, generic glass vase (I think every house has at least one), a typical flea market find, and unusual (to me) pine cones I gathered are making for an interesting assemblage. Untitled, acrylic paint and medium, glass, found objects. ©2015 kristen m. watson.

The ubiquitous, generic glass vase (I think every house has at least one), a typical flea market find, and unusual (to me) pine cones I gathered are making for an interesting assemblage. Untitled, acrylic paint and medium, glass, found objects. ©2015 kristen m. watson.

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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 is also a member of the Vermont Arts Council teaching artist roster. 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 and installations. 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 completed artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont and Rensing Center, South Carolina.

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 is also a member of the Vermont Arts Council teaching artist roster. 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 and installations. 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 completed artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont and Rensing Center, South Carolina.