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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

My love of art can only be rivaled by my love of travel. I honestly believe the two feed each other, inspire each other and I cannot be a happy, healthy me, an authentic artist, without my adventurous spirit and need for exploration. My home studio is my haven, a refuge but sometimes constricting to my creative energy. I can feel the presence of four walls very quickly which makes me yearn for a change of scenery. I am used to time in nature, ever since I was a kid living on a farm, surrounded by animals, gardens, hay and corn fields, and the imagination that rural living provides. I am spoiled by having parents that wanted me and my siblings to appreciate languages, culture, natural resources and personal growth that comes from travel.

As I stand at the halfway point of 2013, I realize the two best trips of the year so far have been island escapes, one to Anguilla and most recently to Bald Head Island. The two are equally unique. While I often get wrapped up in thinking I have to fly somewhere to feel like I am on vacation or for it to be a true getaway…the truth is I have an amazing island escape right here in my back yard.

Anguilla is a Caribbean paradise, but difficult to get to. It’s a minimum of two flights to St. Martin, the main hub for the various islands of the Lesser Antilles, and then a thirty minute boat taxi to the island. Depending on arrival time, I had to spend a night in St. Martin, a delay of gratification, for sure. The pace and tourist noise of the gateway is a stark contrast to the peace and calm of Anguilla. It was a vacation of pampering and relaxation for sure. Art was not far from my mind as I recognized a great opportunity to amass photo references and soak up the flavors of the local color. I could not get enough of the aqua blue water and white sand beaches. Timing was perfect for traveling at the end of February, the winter doldrums and dreary rain of southeast North Carolina was weighing heavy on me. I highly recommend it as an island escape.

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Viceroy Resort Anguilla

Bald Head Island, on the other hand, is a barrier island just off the Cape Fear Coast that boasts an historic lighthouse, sprawling marshland, miles of beach, and the wonderful lack of motor vehicles. There is a great little art gallery, All About Art, owned by two full-time residents that boasts an array of classes for locals and visitors along with a bounty of rich work by regional artists. I feel fortunate to now be represented there.

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Bald Head Island

All About Art Gallery

With the invitation to be an exhibiting artist, I was faced with the logistics last week of delivering over 25 pieces ranging in size from 4 x 6″ to 12 x 48.” Since there is no bridge to the island or cars allowed, the only way to arrive is via a twenty-minute ferry ride. My years of world travel came in handy as I packed two large tote bags, a backpack and wrapped four large canvases in bubble wrap for the journey. One must learn to be their own art Sherpa in times like these!

I’m sure I was quite a site as I boarded the ferry but not surprising, people are intrigued and engaging when they see you are an artist. After dropping off the art and taking care of business details, I enjoyed an afternoon escape of lunch at Mojo’s and great conversation with the owner, Andrea. It was immediately apparent to me that while I was an hour from my home, I felt like I was worlds away. I think there’s something to be said for having to alter the routine, taking into consideration the limited accessibility of visiting an island, that makes it so appealing. It took planning, which created a feeling of anticipation.

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The best part of all was the renewed energy to get back into the studio and think about the next series of paintings waiting to come from the island escapes, and off the easel.

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Transitions

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Today I leave Spello, my home away from home for these last two weeks. I begin slowly heading west, toward the last leg of my European journey. As I pack and clean and assess the “stuff” of travel, I always become introspective. A transition is happening both physically and emotionally with the feeling of something quite rich and wonderful coming to an end, and the anticipation of what is around the next corner building. This is maneuvering through the liminal space, a feeling of in between. It is disquieting for some, puts you on edge. There is a great wide open space of unknown.

I tend to think of it as a mourning process. Not saying good-bye necessarily, I certainly plan to be back here many times to come, but more of an acceptance that with the inevitable movement of time and us with it, there is a letting go. I try to take the “live in the now” approach. I’m happy where I am in the moment. It’s a piece of practicing mindfulness, being present, that we often forget to do. We get so caught up in train schedules and passport requirements, worry and wonder if we’ll get there on time, will we know where to go, what if we get lost?!

But the truth is, we are maneuvering through the liminal space all the time. In fact, even when we are just sitting, thinking, a memory triggered, a sound heard – no matter what, our neurons are interacting to create thoughts and that process requires a space over which to travel. Essentially we are traveling by just being, physically and psychologically through time. This form of travel is just as important as the getting on a plane kind of travel. We’re just not so aware of it. And I certainly don’t have the quantum physics knowledge to begin to explain the how’s and why’s but I feel a part of it and that’s what matters most to me.

I was reflecting on all the forms of transportation I will have utilized in these eight weeks. Planes, trains, cars, boats, elevators, bicycles, escalators, trams, gondolas and buses. I could have taken a zip line at one point as well as gone paragliding but I preferred staying on the ground. My feet have carried me the most, miles and miles of hiking, exploring and lugging up and down beautiful hills and roads.

The most travel I’ve done so far on this trip has to be time thinking. I remember trips with family, the first time I was ever on a plane, the time I got off of a train in a town in Spain that was not where I expected to be. I have moments that I wish my friends were with me, seeing and experiencing what I’m experiencing. I think of all the paintings and art that I want to create just to honor the colors and landscapes amassing in my head.

Today I will try to enjoy the packing and cleaning and getting to the train station on time. Did I really bring all this stuff? I will check to make sure my passport is in my purse side pockets, probably thirty times, just in case a magical fairy decides to steal it or put it somewhere else just to stress me out. And I will step into the liminal space bidding “see ya soon,” or “a presto” in Italian. But I never say “good-bye.” With all this traveling and moving about, there’s no end. Just new beginnings.

Buon viaggi!!

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What does taking a vacation mean to you? Does it have to be to a beach, or foreign country? Or perhaps it’s turning off your cell phone and simply not checking emails from work for two days. I assume vacation means many things to different people.

This week I decided to take a vacation within a vacation. Pretty indulgent, right? But the truth is, I never saw my travels this summer as a vacation in terms of frivolously whiling away my time under a palm tree drinking rum cocktails with paper umbrellas. I guess that’s a very stereotypical take on what many picture as a vacation activity.

Travel, the process of going away and exploring parts unknown, has become an essential part of this artist’s life. Its part of my work, my vocation, how I find inspiration and ideas for educating and sharing with others. It just happens to be the kind of work I happily wake up to every day. But I don’t work 9 to 5 and people assume because I like what I do, it must be a hobby. Unfortunately, anything worth doing, is never easy. I often work for sixteen hours straight, or stretches that run from 2-7 a.m. And the time in front of the easel is just the tip of the iceberg.

For the last two weeks, I worked fourteen days straight researching, viewing, listening, tasting, touching, hearing, breathing, smelling, making, talking about, arguing about, throwing out, tearing up and dreaming about art. I decided I needed/wanted a change of scenery to recharge the batteries. I did what Italians, and other Europeans of late do to get away for a summer break, I hopped on a high-speed ferry (www.venezialines.it) out of Venice and dropped myself onto the Istrian coast of Croatia. For several days, the equivalent of a long weekend, I will call Rovinj (pronounced ro-ving, or ro-vin-ya) my home away from my home away from home.

Ironically, this is an artist town. The colors reflected off the Adriatic and medieval cliff side buildings are stunning. These narrow cobbled streets are home to amazing artists and their studios/galleries. It’s understandable considering the inspiring landscape in their backyard. As I put finishing touches on my thesis work, centered on the boat symbol in our culture and psyche, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Batana Boat Museum. Rovinj is at the center of a historical flat-bottom boat making culture. I’m pretty sure this has just become a working vacation!

In a sense, if a vacation is vacating one’s regular life to step away from every day comforts, to learn, to open your heart and mind to the unique riches of the world, then I’m in for one wild ride. The truth is, though, we can all take a vacation any day of the year. Just take a different route to work today, sign up to help out a local charity or take a new class. In fact, when was the last time you went and sprawled yourself out in your backyard grass? Made cartoon animals out of the clouds?

Who’s to say that’s not taking a vacation, if not for a few moments each day?

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