It’s been a rainy time here in Catskill, with one crowning, utterly spectacular two-hour thunderstorm, beginning at 3am a couple of nights ago. I also witnessed the largest raindrops I have ever seen this week, while up in the tower; I thought for sure that it was hailing. They were incredible, like plummeting, globular, over-ripe fruit. The rains come every day, often angrily, but they pass quickly, and then all is fresh, benign, verdant and gorgeous (and some of the storms have their own savage, transformative beauty; something I have always been fascinated with. I actually would love to spend a winter on Lewis, which everyone described by saying, “It can be fierce“).
I’ve changed how I’m approaching my work. Rather than making little tests and maquettes, I’ve been drawing, drawing, drawing and I’ve had those thrilling, pivotal “aha!” moments. I now have what I came here for; I know how the beginning of the new series of works will go. There are plans for four pieces so far, and the first stirrings of a fifth that is something unprecedented for me, and collaborative; I’ve started fishing about to locate my partner for that work.
They are all a departure, a new direction to reflect my own. Only one, so far, is a book!
There’s been a significant amount of other work done, too. The way to the new path is becoming clearer. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, a great deal since April, and while there still are storms, my internal atmosphere is becoming as windswept, deep and clean as the May skies Orkney and Lewis gave to me.
Yesterday, I visited Women’s Studio Workshop, and my great hostess, Purcell, met me there. We had a grand time. What a warm, wonderful place! It had a huge palpable spirit, everyone bustling, busily working but cheerful, friendly, open, communicative, willing to meet folks and share, and focused above all on the art being made. It made me nostalgic. If all goes well, I will get to make work there and be a part of it for a time too, and I am so looking forward to that. In fact, it does me a world of good simply to know that such an artist-run place can and does still exist; and, moreover, that they have lasted thirty-five years. I attribute that to the fact that the founders are still actively involved, always expanding their vision but keeping the (highly) original spirit intact. Good for them!
In any endeavor, it’s not the place, it’s not the facilities nor the physical environment (no matter how fantastic they may be), it’s the people involved who bring it to life (or the reverse). And though I’ve been privileged during this troubled year to visit places that have moved me deeply with astounding beauty, it’s the people I’ve been connecting with, known and new, in person or in cyberspace, who are helping to sustain and renew my spirit, by re-teaching this teacher essential, primal lessons, afresh. I’m grateful.