Saturday, July 08, 2006

Artist retreats

This sketch was a copy of a self portrait by James McNeil Whistler, completed in 1858. It was a quick charcoal sketch for the Weekly Drawing Thread at Wet Canvas. I enjoy recreating the masters work. It gives me a sense of what they saw and felt and the process of their drawing as I complete mine.

Artists and creative people require time away from their homes, their cities and away from their daily lives of thought and imagination. They must "breathe" by getting out and experiencing the majesty of nature. Without this they are too easily trapped in their own thoughts, isolated and, moreover, their creative impulses and works suffer as a result.

One option is a artist's retreat where you can live and breathe your art for a week or a month or longer. The appeal is great, and the possibilities expansive.

The closest artist's retreat to me is the Pouch Cove Foundation, in a small town (1500 pop.) where I used to live. So many artists from around the world have settled in Newfoundland, first drawn by retreats, then entranced by the rugged wildness of the island and unable to stay away. A number of artists who experienced the Pouch Cove Foundation artist retreat have now bought ocean-side properties in Pouch Cove.

Worldwide there are many artist residencies offered. Even within Canada, the numbers increase yearly. Its a matter of choosing wisely, asking questions of other artists who have been there and ensuring that you will make use of your time.

There are artist retreats and artist community living which are a bit different.
Retreats differ from artists’ communities in two main ways. First, the full or majority of the cost of a retreat is typically the responsibility of the artist, whereas most or all of the residency costs are provided by an artists’ community. Second, retreats are generally open to artists on a first-come first-served basis, whereas artists’ communities use a formal artist selection process.

Of course funding is usually required to attend a residency unless your work is well known and well sold or you are independently wealthy. There are a number of sources for grants for residencies and in the Canada Council for the Arts is a good jumping off point. A fuller list of worldwide grant opportunities is here. More local and Canadian grants and opportunities are listed with the Craft Council.

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