Chalk Hill Artist Residency: photo essay

In September, I spent 3 blissful weeks in wine country on my first artist residency (aka, painting retreat).

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation.
— Ezra Pound

The Chalk Hill Artist Residency is on the Warnecke Ranch, 81 acres of land on the Russian River, growing several varietals of grapes for various winemakers in the region. I lived in an 1890s farmhouse - filled with art books! - and painted in a former goat barn, converted into a large studio. 

I kept a sketchbook, and rediscovered the immediacy of watercolors, which I haven't used in years. It was fun to do quick sketches inspired by the beautiful locale and wonderful September light. As you can see, I was still able to find buildings to paint, despite being in a rural setting:) 

Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.
— Edward Hopper

It was liberating to be completely on my own schedule: painting, sleeping, hiking, eating (I really enjoyed all the fresh fruits and vegetables from the local farmers markets!) whenever I wanted to, and being (mostly) disconnected from the internet and the world.

I went through the whole gamut of weather - from record-breaking heat (so glad to have the Russian River handy to go jump into!), to chilly rain and gloomy clouds, to crisp morning air and golden autumnal light. This culminated in the first leaf of fall (or so I like to think), right on the fall solstice! 

I can tell that the light and colors of this beautiful place affected the light and colors in my new oil paintings - to good effect, I think! I'm delighted to have had this wonderful opportunity. 

*NOTE: My residency ended just a couple weeks before the fires devastated the region. Luckily, everyone at the residency, the property & animals are all safe. See my list of donation resources here.