Week One: Residency at Beatrice Wood Center

I have been in Ojai, CA, working at my residency for exactly one week today at the Beatrice Wood Center.  What is an residency? What happens? What do you do?  I have been asked these questions by many people, so I am going to blog my process on a weekly basis in hopes of helping others understand what happens during a residency and the validity in getting out of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves.  This is my experience and other residencies may be different.  

As one approaches the Beatrice Wood Center, you can feel there is a slower more intentional practice of life here.

Every day when I drive up the mountain, I feel gratitude and a shift physically, mentally, and spiritually.  It is a sacred place to create work.

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Day 1:  Excitement! I have the key to the Beatrice Wood Studio for the next month.  Wow!  Entering the studio on my first day bringing flowers to show gratitude for this opportunity. 

My first three days at the Center were solely alone.   Okay, you are never alone in this studio, as Beatrice Wood’s presence is all around you.  This is for real!

This is Beatrice Wood’s desk and tools that I am using to create work

The studio has been left, as she left it.  

Beatrice Wood’s wheel overlooking Happy Valley remains idle with her last pots surrounding it, which remains an inspiration to all who visit or get the privilege to work in her studio.

 

These are Beatrice Wood’s molds and aprons that she used.  This is a living museum!

Phew!  Then, it got serious, real quick… My first week was hard, very hard!  No, none of this had to do with the Beatrice Wood Center, but had everything to do with the fact that I had no concept of quiet and working solely with clay.  I missed Rex (my husband), my family, friends, and Alaska!  I missed work at ASF! I missed my comfort zone!  My comfort zone became apocalyptic and all that I knew was gone. 

I played music to try and drown out the quiet.  I began working with clay on projects that I had previously been creating to try and find someplace to ground myself to do the work that I had paid dearly to come and do.  After five days in studio from about 9–5pm, I finally realized that I needed to give myself oxygen if I hoped to make it through this residency.  I took Saturday afternoon to bond with Beatrice Wood’s extensive library and seek inspiration.  I also spent time in the museum, gallery, and shop acquainting myself with my new space for the next three weeks.

There are two walls of art books from floor to ceiling that Beatrice Wood collected, plus a center island with books on both sides!!!!   This is an art library!!!

Permanent collection and Beatrice Wood’s art for sale.

Beatrice Wood’s art for sale.

On Sunday I had a girl day with Maryann and Teal, two phenomenal women and artists I have met in Ojai!  We went to see Wonder Woman.  Okay, seriously, they have reclining leather chairs in the movie theater that absorb you.  Great movie and a must see!  My favorite quote was, “It is not about "deserve", It's about what you believe.  And I believe in love.”  This totally summed up who and what I aspire to be in this world.  I do believe in love and believe that is the answer.

We then had a delicious healthy meal and walked on the beach.  I got my ocean fix burying my toes deep in the sand and receiving the grounding that I needed to go forward.

It is now Monday and I have been at the residency for a week.  As I was working in studio today I realized that I had no music playing and was listening to the beautiful music of the birds outside of the studio with the sun shining and a light breeze blowing.  As I sat at Beatrice Wood’s desk creating, I felt someone was staring at me, as I looked up, I saw two baby deer looking in the studio window at me.  I was not alarmed and realized that this residency has already started stretching me and I am finding comfort in my work and the quiet that surrounds me.  Although I love working with the great artists here at Beatrice Wood Center, I am also finding I am enjoying the quiet and solitude.

The grounds at Beatrice Wood Center, also lovingly called Beato's Studio, is bursting with life.  You cannot walk outside without quail taking flight and lizards scattering across the walkway.  The swallows are constant entertainment with feeding their young and have built nests all around the Center up under the eaves.  There are flowers blooming all over the grounds and life is felt through all aspects of this residency.  This creative wonderment has its own vortex of creativity away from the hurried life keeping distance from the outside world allows artist to engage with their work and all the challenges that come with it.  This oasis however is only a half hour drive from sinking your toes into the sand or relaxing in a state of the art movie theater.

There is art, nature, and wildlife everywhere!