Week 1 of Living at the Lighthouse

Yesterday I put all of the work I’ve done in the first week of my residency in the big panoramic room just to see what it all looked like together and to look for commonalities and any sort of themes/colors/threads emerging.


Upon looking and then reflecting some, this absolutely represents my state of mind in these first days – excited, visually overwhelmed, and not wanting to miss out on ANYTHING. I think I counted 26 pieces, most of which are quick studies of course. I start each day with a large sheet of Fabriano paper, divided into 4-6 sections, and I do several warm-up pieces of the same subject, usually what happens to be right in front of me, then later I cut them to size and decide which ones I might want to develop further.

Also, the three boards below, each 24″ x 24″ beginnings of paintings of cliff and rock faces:


These are in most ways entirely impractical for me to have here (first, how on earth will I get them home?), but for two things – they are durable enough for me to take outside to work on, and I really wanted to be able to work big on a hard surface. So I have carted them outside one by one now for three days running, to lean up on some stones and work on outside, rain or shine. I am SO glad I have them because it’s making me work in situ and really study these cliffs live and in person. It’s just not the same working in the studio. There is nothing wrong with working in the studio but this experience reminds me of how more of an essence I get of something when I am standing in front of it, breathing it in.

Fortunately I have several more boards, all much more manageable when it comes to returning them to the States.

I just noticed my sketchbook isn’t anywhere to be seen here. It is also my outdoor companion, but I always carry it in a waterproof bag, because I don’t trust the weather one little bit.

Back to not wanting to miss anything. The sea and sky change colors by the minute, the views are sweeping and dramatic, there are sheep and ponies around every corner, new birds arriving every day (guillemots are suddenly taking over a huge rock and they weren’t there at all several days ago!), and then there was the Aurora Borealis where I stood outside for as long as I could stand it both Sunday and Monday nights, then woke up for the sunrise Monday morning.

Then I crashed. Hard.

I really believe it was that my brain was totally overwhelmed and couldn’t take anymore visual input for a little while. I did some artwork on Monday afternoon but I also took a two hour nap, then slept for twelve hours that night.

Lesson learned. I feel more settled and focused after that. I imagine every artist who stays here has a similar experience. It seems impossible not to, just for the sheer force of nature this place is. I love every minute of being here and look forward to what Week 2 brings.

Meanwhile, sheep and ponies!

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One thought on “Week 1 of Living at the Lighthouse

  1. Elaine Allen

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Really admire your sense of adventure and would love to see your paintings when you get back. Also, bring us a pony.


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