Faculty Development and Center for Excellence in Teaching
June 29, 2015
Report for my research and residence in Maine, June 20-27, 2015
June 26, 2015, Great Spruce Head Island, Maine
My residency at Art Week on Great Spruce Head Island is coming to a close. Tomorrow, myself and the other participants gather our art materials and clothing and lake the mail boat (a lobster boal) back lo Deer Isle on the mainland. This is the 23rd summer the illustrious Porter family has opened their private island in Maine to artists.
I had been accepted into the program in part because of my experience and career as an exhibiting artist. But primarily this opportunity came because of my workshop proposal: lo write and illustrate the life of Emily Brunner. Emily grew up in the Athens/Hudson lighthouse on the Hudson River. Her experience was unique: it required constant chores and the responsibility for her 3 younger brothers. All this took place in a small house with a 10 fl railing with the rapid Hudson River swirling dangerously all around them. Despite the danger and the hard work, the kids learned many skills, and had fun. Emily is now 89 and we meet periodically. I've recorded several conversations and I now know a lot about her life.
Emily's stories are fascinating as a history of bygone times, as examples of pluck and fortitude, and as reminders for all of us of the hard path some have had to follow. It made her strong and independent. But she also has a great sense of humor and many of her recollections arc very funny. Actually her whole story is incredibly visual. And I am excited to illustrate, write, and produce a book about her.
June 29, 2015 Hudson, New York
I am now at home writing my report about my research, experience, and my plan for this work in the future. In 3 hours, [ take a train down along the Hudson River and deliver my report to the Faculty Development and Center for excellence in Teaching.
I applied to Art Week to explore different mediums and styles lo illustrate this wonderful story. I experimented with cut paper silhouettes, watercolors, and a new medium to me: gouache paints. There were 15 artists selected to attend this year's Art Week workshop. The charged atmosphere provided a wonderful environment foll of technical information, help with resources and grant opportunities, and critiques on the work at hand. All meals were provided, leaving us free lo concentrate on our work I have been making art work and regularly exhibiting it for 35 years: sculpture, prints, paintings, and installations. It's fine art and though it can be one's personal exploration intellectually, emotionally, and stylistically, it is very different from illustrating a book. A book is a narrative; images within it must be descriptive, informational, accessible, and targeted lo a specific audience. It must address and support the story it visualizes. It involves a publisher, an outside investor, so their commercial concerns loom large. I needed to take my image-making skills and develop them into this more narrative, detailed approach. T11is workshop gave me the confidence that I could do this comfortably and with a style that is both contemporary and engaging. I am not: saying this is easy; it takes lime and considerable problem solving, but I have gotten the hang of it. And I really enjoy doing it.
Finally, at the workshop and with all the people along the way that I have spoken with, I have had very positive interest and response to book project of Emily Brunner's incredible life. All have been immediately curious. And the specific episodes I relate brings them into the story even more. There are many stories, all extremely visual, that bring a human, kid-like view of what this life was like for these children who crawled all over their small, isolated environment while learning lo fish, clam, row boats , and skate on the ice. The positive encouragement. of others has given me The confidence lo believe in its commercial viability and success as a published book. I have spent almost 20 years working for New York City publishers and know the industry well. I will get this published and will use this as a stepping off point to start similar projects in the future. I am already thinking of other ideas for commercial books. The ArtWeek workshop and FIT's funding has been the impetus for me to step into a new venue; publishing projects. Its an exciting time for me; the opportunities seem numerous, possible, and a lot of fun.
Thank you FIT for this opportunity.