A few weeks ago, I returned home from a wonderful residency in Picton, Ontario at Spark Box Studio, a lovely print and studio space on a farmhouse in Prince Edward County. It is the home and workspace of artists Kyle Topping and Chrissy Poitras, whose spirit and hospitality make the place welcoming and full of possibility as soon as you arrive. Once I dropped my bags I started drawing, but I really yearned to find out more by walking.
On Tuesday morning, I took a four mile walk to pick rocks and draw from at a small hill near town, one that I had seen on the brief drive the evening before. The weather was gorgeous and felt as welcoming as Kyle and Chrissy's farmhouse. What I enjoyed about the walk was the chance to be alone with my thoughts: the quiet country road had very little traffic, and no one noticed if I stopped to stare for a long while at wildflowers or granite pebbles, or if I leaned against a tree to take in the sight of a well-aged barn. (For example, just stopping to stare at a hummingbird in a park in San Antonio - a moment so fleeting that it caught my breath - I was asked by passersby if I was alright, as if to question why I wasn't walking.)
When I arrived at the hill, it was steep and seemed to be comprised of glacial till. I climbed the hill, not as adeptly as I'd like, but made my way through brush and wild grapes to find a place to sit and draw. There were rocks of all kinds in the hill, from pebble to boulder size, comprised of limestone, granite, and some bits of conglomerate. I figured this was a drumlinoid, but there was no way for me to be certain. I liked the guesswork and the digging - the questioning and the drawing are part of why I make the work I make. I feel more connected to the earth when I am curious about it.
I found several fossiliferous limestones in a field on the walk home. I began sketching immediately, centering on this little hill and the marine creatures that once inhabited the place that I spent all morning walking around on my two legs. I moved on to making a few watercolors, then went into the print studio with a renewed sense of color and purpose.
In the short time I was at Spark Box, I created a series of monotypes that reflect an intimacy with that initial foray into walking in Prince Edward County and a reverence to the local rocks that I connected to in my exploration. Though I went on several other forays, including a trip to Lake Ontario, this first walk set the tone for the work. These monotypes are a series of prints that are mostly in beginning stages to take shape into other works; some are in a final form and require no other work.
Prints are wonderful in that they can remain at once an effecient means of communicating an idea, or take shape into books, works on paper, mixed media, or constituent parts of other artworks like sculpture or painting. I am incredibly happy with the results and look forward to sharing more of these Spark Box prints as they become finalized.