This year is slipping away at a breakneck speed, and I find myself, over four months into my artist residency at Woggoon Farm. The work and my practice's progress have exceeded all my expectations.
Finding Rhythm and Purpose:
Two to three mornings a week, I head to the farm, and either draw or paint en plein air. I respond well to routine, and my vision for what I aim to achieve has grown clearer.
Plein Air Adventures:
With 80 sprawling acres, exploring every nook and cranny of The Acres will be unlikely. Yet, even venturing to the lower flower paddocks is a journey in itself. Enter my trusty folding beach trolley, loaded with all my essentials for plein air painting—table, stool, umbrella, paints, brushes, and an essential flask of coffee. I know that my artistic process thrives on comfort and familiarity and my setup is finely tuned to ensure everything I need is within arm's reach.
Sketchbooks and Snapshots:
Two sketchbooks have been filled with drawings of the farm's flowers, while hundreds of photographs serve as a resource back home. I have started a series of floral paintings in the studio based on my drawings, and the photos have transformed into detailed drawings, which are being translated into linocuts.
An Evolution of Practice:
Plein air painting demands a unique skill set. It's a negotiation with changing light, wind, bugs, shade and weather, and swift decisions on composition and message. It's a journey I've embarked on before, yet one that continues to reveal new nuances and challenges. I initially painted plein air in a sketchbook but quickly shifted onto 40x40x0.3cm gessoed ply panels for this series. I have completed 34 en plein air paintings to date. The paddocks, flowers, hay bales, bush and beehives have been captured and I haven't exhausted all of my ideas by a long way.
Glimpse of Genius Loci:
Woggoon exudes an indescribable essence, a spirit of place that I felt on my first visit. The plein air paintings, with their swift execution, hold a certain purity in my response, a glimpse of that very spirit. The concept of 'genius loci', the spirit of a place, has never felt more palpable. It's in the leaves, the scent of flowers, the birds, the bees and the breeze. The farm itself seems to breathe, and I find myself attuned to its whispers of inspiration.
As the seasons change, so does the landscape at The Acres, each day brings something new. The farm's cyclical rhythm has become a big part of my practice. The horticultural cycle of fertilise, plant, mulch, nourish, sustain, harvest, rest and repeat is fascinating. The changing seasons from Winter to Spring, as the heat and dry build are proving to be an essential part of the en plein air experience as my palette alters with each week.
The Farm's Furry Companions:
During my residency, I've also enjoyed getting to know the farm's loyal canine companions. Their playful energy and unwavering companionship add an extra layer of warmth to this already enchanting experience. They've become my steadfast painting pals, offering silent encouragement with every wag of the tail and snuggle.
Preparations for Exhibitions:
I'm inching closer to the midpoint of the residency. It's a thrilling prospect to see my work come together, a culmination of these months of exploration and creation. I'm pleased I have started a series of studio paintings based on my sketchbook drawings. My linocuts are progressing and I love the artist proofs I have made so far.
Exciting plans are in motion. I am preparing for two exhibitions at the farm to showcase its breathtaking beauty and my response. The first is in mid-November
November 17 : Opening Reception 5 pm -7 pm
Saturday 18 November Open Day and Exhibition: 10 am - 3 pm
Saturday 18 November Open Day and Exhibition : 10 am - 3 pm
Artist talk 2 pm Saturday and Sunday
sponsored by Rusty Bucket Floristry Samford
Additionally, in 2024, there are two more exhibitions in the works, set to take place in galleries, featuring my Woggoon collection.
This residency is a journey of discovery, a celebration of beauty. Woggoon has not only provided a space for creativity to flourish but has also become a cherished muse. As my residency unfolds, my connection to The Acres deepens. It's a living, breathing entity that has welcomed me. The flora, the fauna, the changing seasons—they've all become integral parts of my narrative. I look forward to sharing more of this special journey with you all in the months to come. As I reflect on almost five months, I'm filled with gratitude for the opportunity to immerse myself in the beauty and spirit of Woggoon Farm. The journey is far from over, and I eagerly anticipate what the next eight months will unveil. Stay tuned for more updates on this incredible residency!