As I sit here on a beach overlooking the ocean, I thought I would write to you about my experience at an art residency. But first, you may want to know what is an art residency and why go through with it? Well, the answer is simple enough… it’s an opportunity to leave the comfort of your busy life to focus solely on your art practice and experience new things that may inspire you. It’s a way to immerse yourself with other artists, visit museums, art galleries, build your network and best of all, experiment.
So far, my art residency at Studio H International in Victoria, British Columbia, has been life-changing and a perfect way to launch my career to the next level. I thought I would share my experience with you by offering you a few simple tips:
1 - Research: Find the art residency you need at the moment by evaluating your needs. What goals do you have? Do you need time alone for yourself? For me, I have a very busy family life and needed some time alone to experiment, write and work on new ideas. Some artists are seeking connection with others for critiques and bounce ideas off each other. Find your goal, then research the best places that would meet those goals. Do you need a few days or a whole month? How far are you willing to go? A good start would be to begin your search online here: Res Artis: Worldwide Network of Arts Residencies.
2 - Apply: Once you have a shortlist of art residencies you like, research them to make sure your goals would be met and you would get the support you need. Apply to these residencies and don’t get discouraged if you get rejected at first, just keep applying!
3 - Fund: If you need financial assistance, research your local, regional or even national art councils or even find a local sponsor that may be interested in supporting you. You can also talk to a local art gallery and see if they would be willing to offer you a show to show the work you made during that residency (or create your own show!).
4 - Plan: Make sure you have a good idea of what you want to do and what materials you may want to bring. Your best tool will be a really good sketchbook and journal with some limited painting supplies. Remember that most places have a local art store close by, so if you really need something, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it when you get there. You’ll want to bring supplies that are portable and easy to bring back with you.
5 - Visit: Take your practice outside and immerse yourself in the new environment you’re in. Be careful to not get caught up in sightseeing only without making that step to translating what you’re seeing in your art practice. Create a schedule for yourself based on how you work best. For example, get out hiking at a local park or museum in the morning, treat yourself to a good lunch at a local restaurant and journal about ideas, then head to the studio to experiment.
6 - Experiment and Explore: This is the most crucial step in your time away. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t think of the business side of art (that will always be there when you’re back), just forget all that and think about why you are an artist in the first place. Free yourself. It’s ok to make bad art because no one needs to know. For me, I did some printmaking with found objects, made collages and even went to a life-drawing class during my residency which I hadn’t done in more than 15 years and it was fantastic!
7 - Write: A good way to free yourself and learn about your ‘why’ is to write about what you do. Just as I’m writing this blog about my experience, I know that this helps me understand myself better and help others too. Journalling, meditation, exercise and yoga are great to add to your residency schedule.
8 - Rest: For me, this has been an important part of my residency! After 8 years of having young children at home, I can finally sleep in.
Hope these tips were useful to you and please feel free to share this article with friends :) You can also follow along my adventures on Instagram where I share a lot about my practice. If you have questions, be sure to reach out. Always happy to answer and connect!
Camille Myles, Visual artist