Art Materials that Won’t Melt (Part 1/9)


Etchr bag on tripod with mini stool

After a very fun artist talk at The Herrick Gallery for Mayfair Art, I had very little time to choose materials and pack for my 2 week Oddysey/Artist Residency in Cuba.

WHAT--An Artist Residency is usually a program designed to give artists the time, space, and place to be inspired and potentially to create a new body of work. I applied for this one, thinking Cuba would be a perfect place to explore my themes of human connections in a disconnected/connected world, particularly from the perspective of an American that grew up during the Cold War.

WHY--Well known for its history, beaches, and beautiful old cars, it seems a place somewhat lost in time—or is it? What drives the aesthetics of their art, their music, and their literature to be some of the most compelling in the world? And who are the people that have weathered the vicissitudes of revolution, embargos, and relative isolation from the technologies driving so much of my own world?

HOW--Down to the nitty gritty…what to pack…dreams of a carry-on and iPad…

Painting’s not an option, planes don’t allow oil paints, and carrying the acrylics would be way too much stuff--simple, my iPad. Apps can provide all the tools I need—charcoal, watercolours, oils, inks. I can have all the surfaces I could ever want. And it’ll be compact and keep my packing simple.

Wait, wifi isn’t readily available? That means, all my work in digital form, not easy to backup unless I carry drives. Wait, it’s going to be how hot?? iPads tend to overheat easily in the sun. Wait, it’s also raining a lot?

So I get the backup drive, I put a reusable icepack (with prayers for access to a fridge when I get there), and I pack the umbrella with no idea how I’m going to hold it up and draw---

2 weeks, what if….

It’s the “what if” when I pack that always gets me far from my dreams of a little carry-on, and my iPad as my portable, everything studio.

Okay, so water isn’t potable unless I buy bottled. Maybe no watercolours that require lots of water? I can bring those crayon kinds and water filled pens I discovered in Japan. Nope, those crayons were melting in London’s heat…

How ‘bout those Posca paint pens that once laid down can spread with those water brushes. Haven’t used those in ages…must check none are dried out.

Fill the water pens… What if this water thing is a bigger problem?

No charcoal, too messy. Pastels and soft pencils. Which sharpener? Sand paper and a knife. What if they don’t let me in with a knife? Hide it in my materials bag, which is now getting full of stuff, and nobody will ever find anything in there, not even me…

Paper. This is like a Goldilocks choice—nothing too big, nothing too small, …uh-oh, need a surface that can take pastels and water—that means clear gesso to prime it so I can use whatever. And if I bring the gesso, I need brushes, and something to clean the brushes…

So much for just bringing the iPad…

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