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April 18, 2008

My First Artist Residency

In 2000 my life was going through some major changes and I thought it was time to experience an artist residency. Asking for a month off from your full-time job is not an easy thing. My day job was great about it, if I had the vacation time, they would let me take it all at once.

I got accepted into the Vermont Artist Residency, in Johnson, Vermont. It was about six hours from the city. My dad had just left me his car so that helped out tremendously. I set off alone on a cold winter day on this adventure of living with about thirty other artists from around the world. I was given a small room for sleep and a studio to spend all my waking time in. I was thrilled with the studio space, having done my Masters on the six year, working full-time plan, I was never given my own studio to work in. Having this space to work in was amazingly freeing for me. I started painting larger right away.

One of the wonderful things that the VSC offers is a weekly critique from working artists that they bring in. Believe it or not, I was not really experienced in getting critiques, always afraid that they would turn me off from creating art and I needed art in my life too much to lose it that way. The advice was sound, the insight incredible. I also made a friend right away, just after I arrived and while sitting in the waiting room I met my first Karen from Seattle. Eight years later, and we are still good friends.

I made lots of friends that month, had a ton of fun, created wild paintings, and felt free of my day job after working there for twelve years. This year it will be twenty years at my day job and I have been to residencies in Hungary and Costa Rica as well. I find that you push yourself further when you think others are looking, you try harder and are a lot more serious about your work. It is a amazing feeling to be taken seriously as an artist, and not as my day time work persona of "telecommunications analyst". I suggest residencies to anyone who wants to grow as an artist.

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