Posted by: jeanne | January 8, 2009

1st preparation for a residency

i’m going to be going on an art residency this coming october, ten months away. i have already begun planning.

i’m in atlanta, and they’re in kerry, the very western tip of ireland.

they won’t even let you buy an airplane seat this far out. it’s got to be within 331 days of the trip.

i don’t make any money to speak of. anybody with an actual job makes roughly ten to fifty times my gross income. burger flippers are rich compared to me. i survive because of the kindness of strangers, luck, and practice. i have to budget every penny to pay for tickets. that’s my tax return, and i’m going to be hoarding it. i’ve made my last purchases of beeswax and silk for awhile. no more art books.

it’s going to cost me $1500 by the time it’s over, and that’s doing it like the starving artist i am. the airfare is likely to cost a thousand, and there’s five hundred worth of supplies if all i do is eat beans and rice and scribble on newsprint with crayons. just the odd pint at the bar down the village every now and again is going to run me close to a hundred bucks. in three weeks? hell yes.

i’m going to be equipping myself at susie’s outfitters, a private boutique my sister runs. i will arrive in travel clothes and nothing else. i’ll get everything i could put on my body from her closets. she’ll supply all the bedding i can sleep under, robes, clothes, coats, hats and mittens. socks. towels. nice big fluffy ones. nothing i can get paint on, however, and therein lies the rub.

i will pick up any art supplies they wouldn’t let me on the plane with, like turpentine and linseed oil – the paint media, down in dublin at fitzgerald’s.

i’ll bring most everything with me. my dyes. my pigments, both in powdered form. my brushes. rolled empty canvas, watercolor paper, and silk and cotton yardage.

maybe some beeswax. maybe i’ll do an encaustic. the problem is that encaustic has to be held on a rigid surface, and that means i can’t roll it up and put it in my bags. it has to go flat. which means not many, and small ones if i do encaustic painting. i’ve been telling myself i wouldn’t do encaustic whle i was there, but i’m thinking of the plantlife i can embed in a painting. the gorse, the grasses, the moss. bits of stone cottage that have crumbled off, sand and pebbles from the coastline. seaweed. i can’t pass that up, can i?

on the way out to kerry from dublin, susie and i will stop and provision me for much of my time there. the basic food things like flour and butter, sugar, tinned milk, coffee and tea, guinness and jameson’s, root vegetables, beans, rice, yeast for bread. just like at home.

that means i’ll have to go down to the village for perishable vegetables, eggs, fresh milk, that nice cream pastry from the bakery.

i’ll have to go down there to use the internet, too, at the post office, and to have a pint or two and read or sketch or maybe do a painting of the pub, which i used to do a lot. i’ll include a picture.

slatts slattery & sons, rathmines, dublin

i figure it will be easy enough to give jim written instructions on how to read my blog, and to write a comment on it, and that way we can keep in touch as well as phonecalls, which are expensive unless susie has a way.

and this is just the physical comfort side. what about the work? what kind of planning can i do this far out? how do i know what i will be in a position or mood to work on ten months from now? the way i’ve always done art is a little here and a little there, always several projects going at once, always a different stage of not knowing what i’m doing.

so i just plan on doing everything while i’m at a residency. pare down to the bare essential art supplies, take everything, because the bare essentials fit into a single bag, they must. i’ll deal with it. paint on rocks. on cardboard. on the fogged up window panes. i’ve left paintings on people’s walls. never found out whether they thanked me for it. all the best, folks.

at this point i’m already fantasizing a great deal of color, but no shapes are discernable yet. it’ll be full of rich grays and blues and greens, however, and brown grass and peat fires.

at this point it’s all fantasy. but boy am i excited about it.

reality check. i just checked aer lingus’ website, and they’re running rondtrip dc to dublin for 520. i can get to dc. the fare has dropped from almost $1100 to $860 at delta for a flight from atl.

what if i wait a while and see what happens to the prices. could be airfare will be reasonable for awhile during this crisis. i’ll enroll in some of those travel sites for awhile. i still make nothing, either way you slice it. so it kind of doesn’t matter. supplies and provisions are going to still cost, so it’s not like i’m going to cut it by much, but i’m grateful to be able to go at all.



  1. Thanks for the ping on embedding in encaustic. I enjoyed reading this post. do you have another site that shows any of your work?


  2. hi jeanne!
    im highly interested in learning more about the cill rialiag artists retreat in kerry. where did you get your information on it? ive looked all over the internet but havent found anything. I’d love to apply for a residency but have no idea how to go about doing it. Any help you could offer would be fabulous!!
    Thanks in advance!!


    • hey erin,

      you’re right, it’s hard as hell finding out information. but isn’t that a good thing? they don’t have a website, there’s no downloadable application process, you actually have to write them a letter and ask to go. it’s great. they’re a small team, they’re not yet overwhelmed by millions of applications a year, only thousands, and they’re very kind.

      you can send material to the cill rialaig project c/o the origin gallery, 83 harcourt street, dublin 2, or directly to the administrative offices, which would be the cill rialaig project, ballinskelligs, county kerry. or you can email them, which works as well.

      they want self-directed residents who need space and time to do their art; they want people who are prepared to hike three miles back to the studio in the dark and rain after the pub closes, and not complain of cabin fever because the studios are in the back of beyond. they would very much like to know when you want to come, and what your tolerances are for weather, because the weather is a very large consideration, especially in the winter months when it’s always weathering outside. they want to hear about your artwork and what you think you’d like to accomplish on residency there, even tho they realize that this isn’t necessarily what you’ll end up doing once you get there – cill rialaig is a magical place and infects all who pass. send them 10-12 photos of your recent stuff, they’re okay with notices and reviews and stuff, but mainly they want to hear from you as an artist and to determine that the gift of their scarce resource will be useful and benificial for all. they don’t mind getting supportive letters from professional people, but they want to know who you are and what use you’ll make of the time. so, be yourself. talk to them like you were talking over a cuppa in front of the stove. i think they’d respond more to an honest letter than a stilted big-word art-speak self-promotion piece.

      good luck.


  3. thanks jeanne!!
    while i was waiting for your response i actually went through some of your other blogs and it mentioned the origin gallery, so i sent them an email requesting information and they forwarded it on to someone who handles the inquiries. they sent me an email with the information package and everything. its been awhile since ive done any work, but im going to be doing a WHOLE whack this coming weekend (i took two days off work just to go get new supplies and do some paintings) so ill be sending in an application hopefully by the end of the month! im not expecting to be able to go this year, i just think it would be an awesome experience!!!


  4. oh and for the record! i have NO problem hiking in the dark in the rain. lol. until i heard about this i was actually planning a three week long camping trip in county kerry. hahaha. everyone thought i was crazy, but i think its awesome!!!


  5. erin, camping. you’d be much more mobile if you went camping for three weeks. there are bunches of youth hostels around, as well, and some of them are specifically for hikers, because you can’t get to them by car – bloody great mountains to climb first.

    you’re right, a residency in a nice snug cottage is much preferable to camping out. i did it last time i was down there, myself, stuck my tent in a farmer’s field every night and no bother about it.

    but this time i’m going with art supplies. can’t camp with art supplies, not the kind of stuff i’m taking, anyway.

    good luck with the application. if you need any help with it, or a review, just let me know. i believe you were referred to mary, and she’s an absolute dote (which is good).


  6. that would also be an awesome idea! just go with art supplies and do the camping thing.
    i was referred to mary! so far she seems positively lovely!
    thanks for all your help with the information! its been fabulous!


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