The Self Made Artist Residency: Part 2 Decisions…Decisions..

Part 2 of 3 articles on how to plan your own Self Made Artist Residency. This is a list of helpful questions and decisions you must make before taking the plunge.

So you’ve applied for and have been rejected from a few residency programs, you’ve weighed the pros and cons regarding creating your own (Read Part 1 of this series, Self-Made Artist Residency: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly) and decided to be a rebel and do it! But where to begin? The following is a step by step checklist of important decisions to make before taking the plunge and of course, I offer examples of some of the things I thought about and actually did.

These considerations all work together, one is not separate from any of the others. You might not be able to check all your boxes, but having all considerations all in one list, plus all of the questions I ask may help you prioritize what is most important to you. It might also help to refer to Residencies: The Artist Kind, a blog post I wrote about choosing and applying for a residency program. Read to the end of this article for photos of my funky cabin and funky cabin art.

  1. When and How Long For most, carving out time away is the biggest hurdle so this must be your first consideration. I’m a bit of a hermit in the winter months, especially in the months of January through March, so I usually leave that time unscheduled in order to focus on my studio work. I had wanted to schedule my residency for all three months, but I had a rare workshop scheduled for mid-February. That left six weeks starting in January, a good amount of time to acclimate to my surroundings and get some work done.
  2. Location Where in the world is most inspiring to you? What kind of climate/landscape do you need to feel inspired? Do you need a city near you, lots of people, civilization? Or are more isolated areas better for you? Do you want to be in the US or is international travel important for you? As I mentioned above, I needed to get out of winter in Philadelphia so being somewhere sunny and warm(ish) was my top priority. Hiking is part of my studio research, so an interesting landscape with parks and/or hiking trails is where I focused on the map. Also, my budget didn’t support international travel, so I focused on the south, southeastern and southwestern US.
  3. Cost You will be solely responsible for all costs, so you must make a budget that includes travel, food, accommodations, art supplies, entertainment, etc. Once you arrive at a budget, double it(!) as there are incidentals that come up that you may not have considered. For example, most of the state parks I’ve been to here in PA are free while most of the parks I visited in FL had a charge. I went to a new park every other day while there and realized I should just purchase a Parks Pass which eventually paid for itself.
  4. Accommodations How much room do you need to make your work? Do you like to cook, do you need a kitchen? Do you need outdoor space? Do you usually make a big mess when you work? Working with encaustic needs too many special considerations so I knew I was only bringing water media and this restriction freed up my options. I don’t need a lot of room to make my work and I’m not especially messy when I work. Part of my embarking on this residency was to get away from my life, to think and be alone so I didn’t want a lot of distractions-being in a rural environment was okay with me. I also like a patio space or space outside of my living space to read, write, draw, etc. I don’t cook and really only need a microwave and small fridge for meals. Having all of this info combined with my timeframe, location and budget worked out.
  5. What’s Next I then went to Airbnb (also checked Sublet.com, HomeAway, Vrbo) and searched the states I was most interested in visiting-CA, UT, NM, AR, CO, FL, GA, SC. I also checked the extended forecast and found that I would be most comfortable in FL. I couldn’t afford anything in the vacation spots most snowbirds frequent in January, so I settled on a small fishing cabin on the St. John’s River in Northern FL that checked most of my boxes. (Pictured above) It had two small bedrooms, a sunroom, a full kitchen, a small bathroom, laundry on premises and it was right on the edge of a National Forest. It was also 90 minutes from two cities that had galleries and museums so that I could satisfy my art cravings. Not perfect..and by no means was it luxury…but it was within my budget, drivable within two days from home and I could be comfortable there for an extended period. I knew I would be in a rural environment, but this place was very isolated with the closest food store at least 30 miles away. It was weird at first, but I acclimated well and by the third week I learned to plan my hiking trips so that I could also do errands along the way.

The best thing about doing this on my own was realizing I could do it and that I didn’t have to rely on the almighty residency programs out there to tell me where, when and how high I could jump. Everyone will be different, but I hope this offers some inspiration and at least gets the wheels turning for you. Stay tuned for my next post outlining how I carved a creative space out of a fishing cabin, supplies I took with me, supplies I wish I took with me and what kind of work I made while on my residency.

My 2019 Weekly Studio Resolutions

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again-time to reset, re-evaluate, re-order and re-invigorate. Have you created your 2019 Studio Resolutions yet? As promised, I’m sharing with you my list of New Year Studio Resolutions to help give you ideas for your own list.

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again-time to reset, re-evaluate, re-order and re-invigorate. Have you created your 2019 Studio Resolutions yet? As promised, I’m sharing with you my list of New Year Studio Resolutions to help give you ideas for your own list. At the turn of the new year, on my favorite list making phone app, Evernote, I check my list from the year before, add/remove items, rewrite, redo. I make a list of daily, weekly, monthly and annual Studio and Marketing resolutions that I check frequently throughout the year to make sure I haven’t forgotten what I’ve resolved to do. Having the list in a convenient place on my phone and using an app that syncs to all of my devices, I’m easily able to check and recheck it in order to keep myself accountable.

Last year I shared with you my Daily Studio Resolutions in this and this post. This list has pretty much stayed the same, so this year I will share with you my Weekly Studio Resolutions. I combine my Studio and Marketing lists in my Evernote, but for the purposes of this and the next blog post, I will only be sharing my Studio Resolutions.

  1. Work in the studio 25-35 hours These studio hours reflect the hours I’m actually in the studio making something, producing or experimenting. I made this resolution way back when I was still teaching 2 days a week at Tyler and even though I’m almost three years retired, I haven’t added more hours as I thought I would. What I have added are more hours devoted to things that contribute to the making such as reading and drawing, photographic journaling, hiking, etc. Keep in mind that depending on what I have to accomplish in the way of deadlines, etc. my resolution hours may fluctuate from as low as ten hours a week to 70 hours or more. However, these are extremes and will only occur a few times a year. My resolution is an average-a mark to determine my success or failure weekly and/or monthly. To see how I log my studio time hours, read the first item in Part 2 of My 2018 Resolutions in which I detail how I keep my Studio Notes.
  2. Experiment at least two hours each studio day OR 1-2 days per week If you’re a regular reader of Art Bite, you may have read my recommendation for devoting a percentage of studio time toward experimentation, better known as the 40/60 principle outlined in this post. It is very important to do this in order to consistently grow and evolve your work. But as with anything, the world of ‘shoulds’ gets in the way which is why I consider it my most important resolution. If you find it difficult to devote time toward experimentation, either follow my lead as explained in the post or actually block out a day each week to experiment. It isn’t imperative that you do this for exactly 40 percent of studio time, but it is so very important to make time for it even if it’s an hour per month.
  3. Watch/listen to 8-10 art videos OR podcasts I must confess, I have become a Youtube and Podcast junkie and as a result I changed this resolution from last year’s 2-4 videos/podcasts to 10-15 for this year because it reflects what I actually do. I listen while I work, while I drive, before I sleep in order to relax. I listen and watch a variety of subjects, all inclusive my listening time is way over 10-15 but I want to make sure that a portion of my listening time is devoted to art. My Instagram viewing included, I probably watch a lot more videos than this, so what I’m including here are only artist interviews, comprehensive painting demonstrations, product demonstration, artist biographies, etc. I do believe that the videos and podcasts are contributing to my studio work, not taking away from it and that is why I increased the hours. Sometimes watching videos, even if they are about art, can become a substitute for studio work and we must be careful not to let that happen.

When you do make your list, print it out and sign it. Put it somewhere that you can see it and also keep it on your phone so you refer to it and be reminded of it often. If it’s your first time making a list like this, it will need to be adjusted a few times. Most importantly, don’t make these resolutions and forget about them by mid-February! Really try to stick to them and if you find yourself failing, adjust the list accordingly. If you’re having difficulty making a list like this and/or keeping to your resolutions, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a mentoring appointment-the start of a new year is the best time to begin….

Wishing you all an amazing year of Studio Resolution keeping and creatively productive time in the studio!