A week at 'the cottage' to work and play
Thu, Aug 4, 2016
For the last few years I have been fortunate enough to see my art practice grow. A few years before that, I had almost quit. As a practicing artist since 2002, I came across a few rough patches, on a personal and on a professional level. One day I woke up and realized I was miserable because I wasn’t painting, and decided to look for opportunities that would help me grow artistically, create relationships, and be more involved in the arts community. Those challenges are still there, but I made the right decision to carry on with what I love.
Volunteering, exhibiting, doing talks and supporting art organizations are just some of the changes I made. Then in 2015 I tried something different and did two residencies: one at Spark Box Studios and one at the Wildlife Research Station in Algonquin Park. I had never applied for a residency before; I had a studio, I was painting again, so why bother?
Before I answer that question, let me give you some background information. I was working four days a week at a job I didn’t like but it paid for a car, a house, a few trips and for art supplies. But I only painted on evenings and weekends which led to me being exhausted and not creating my best work. Knowing this and knowing that if I had more time and less distractions I could do better, that’s when I started to look at residencies.
When I went to Spark Box, I had a plan: do whatever I wanted without worrying about being consistent with my previous work. I had a full week of studio time. Most of the work I created ended up being painted over, but I was okay with that, because without that residency I wouldn’t have created the work that now gets me excited when I walk into my studio. All I did was create very quick tiny paintings, something I had never done. I had fun re-arranging them on the wall as an installation and played with titles and themes.Why is this important? Because when I was in my studio, I just painted. I didn’t have enough time really to think about the work. The freedom to relax and think about my work without distraction is precious time.
On the other hand, the Algonquin Park residency was completely different. I didn’t create a single painting. Accompanied by a writer, I took photographs and notes during long hikes in the park. We had decided this residency was going to be about creating experiences and some documentation. The creative work came later.
Three months later I left my job, took my pension savings and created The Cottage Creative Residency. I wanted the Outaouais to have a place where creative people could do what I did. If you are constantly struggling with lack of studio space, lack of time, maybe even lacking some peace and quiet, residencies are a great solution.
The Cottage is an artisan house with a pine interior. Common spaces include the kitchen, living room, two balconies, a patio and a lounge area in the 2nd floor studio. Our plan is to welcome three residents, but currently we have two studio spaces and two bedrooms ready. There is a large studio overlooking the river on the 2nd floor, and the attic space for smaller projects, researchers or writers.
What I think is important to know when applying for a residency with us, is that we don’t expect you to work all the time. Take one of our beach cruisers and go for a ride, kayak along the shores of the river, or go for a hike at the Luskville Falls. Better yet, sit on the balcony facing the river and play some ukulele or read a book on the sandy beach. We have so much to offer and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to take advantage of everything because in the end it’ll help you get your mind in the right place to produce the work you want.
And finally, our goals for 2017 and 2018 are to launch an online store called “Le Dep”, a slight nod to the many “dépanneur” stores in our area, a blog highlighting work by our residents and a yearly publication. We welcome themed proposals utilizing our boards, kayaks, bikes and the landscape, and encourage paired artist applications. We hope to offer something familiar and unique at the same time : a week at the cottage, with a bit of work and play.