Posted by: jeanne | July 26, 2010

i’m going to ireland in a month

in just over a month, i’ll be in ireland for my long-awaited residency in the back of beyond, county kerry.  i’m going to be making art in a tiny stone cottage in kildreelig (killreelig, cill rialaig), which means ‘the back of beyond’ in irish*, or more precisely, ‘the end of the fecking earth’.  it’s on the side of a huge hulk of a mountain called bolus head, sticking right out there into the atlantic, and this little abandoned and renovated village sticking right on the side of the hill, with cliffs and pounding waves below.

it’ll be make art or die.  or, more precisely, make art or fuck off.  for a hill walker like myself, there isn’t anywhere i can’t go, including over the side (but i’m kind of leery of cliff edges after that energy tried to make me lean forward that time).  the next bay over, for example, is only a mere stroll, and the walk inland toward the ring of kerry is undoubtedly worth a few days on the hoof.

but i’ll be there to make art.  so my task, now that it’s a month off, is to get everything bought and organized and packed and as far as possible on automatic for jim’s joining me three weeks into it.

it might be further complicated by catastrophe – ill health, volcanic eruption – so we have to have access to emergency money, and have to make contingency plans for the dogs and cats, and the fish we feed every morning.  my girl’s going to have to sort out her own childcare arrangements for awhile.

the art supplies i took with me to the beach last week were the field test phase.  i took a bunch of dry pigments and all the media i’m likely to use – for oil paint, encaustic paint, watercolor, and acrylic.  and ran into trouble with the oil paint right away.  it seems i can’t just mix linseed oil into dry pigment and come up with a consistency like right out of the tube.  for that i need fillers, which means either chalk (calcium carbonate) or calcium stearate, or aluminum stearate, judging by the tubes of hand-mixed fillers jim just dug out from his stash.  i’m going to mess with his tubes of fillers, adding dry pigment and more oil, and then i’m going to learn to make my own so that i can mix everything up as needed.

my paints are thus reduced to dry pigment, and either gum arabic for watercolors, or linseed and turps and fillers for oil paint, or beeswax and citrus oil for encaustic, or acrylic medium.  i could make up pastels, too, but i’m not going to.  this means i don’t have to take three separate sets of paint tubes for watercolor, oil, and acrylic, and i don’t have to take blocks of colored wax for encaustic.  just a small baby-sized shoebox full of jars of dry pigments, a sack of chalk, and a few jars of liquids – gum arabic, linseed, acrylic medium.  according to current safety regulations i’m not allowed to fly with turpentine or citrus oil, and maybe even beeswax, and so i can get them there, but only sort of.  i’m having a huge problem finding citrus oil in europe.  nobody uses it except in a limited way in the industrial sector (natural cleaning products).

i have to make sure i have the right size bag, and make damn sure it doesn’t weigh over 50 pounds loaded.  i only get one bag, so there goes the idea of taking things over for my sister.  all i have to take over in this 62″ circumference bag are my art supplies.  that’s all the reduced paint materials (baby-shoe box full of pigment), wax and whatever liquids i’m allowed, substrates (linen, paper, boards, fabric), brushes, studio tools, collected (ripped out and printed) papers and notebooks, and sundry other things that escape me at the moment.  this is the time to go look back at other lists i made last year.

at this point, i’m getting all sorts of flashes about things to take – hot water bottle, wax paper – and am having a bit of trouble imagining the west of ireland in september while it’s the middle of the fucking summer here in atlanta.

i’ll have more soon.

fantasy irish

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