I had the incredible opportunity to attend Chautauqua Institute’s School of Art program in Chautauqua, NY this summer, and it was nothing short of the experience of a lifetime. To be as brief as possible, the program offered a remarkably diverse mix of dedicated art students (many of which I have made lasting friendships with) from all over the country of various ages, points in their careers, and artistic views; an impressive and incredibly committed array of visiting faculty members (and staff) that rotated every two weeks; a wonderful lecture series; and an absolutely stunning and indescribable location filled with the most extraordinary residents and visitors. My experiences at Chautauqua can hardly be summed up in a blog post, but I can only hope that the following pictures and explanations can help.
Let’s have a little sampler of Chautauqua, shall we?
It looked like this:
Chautauqua was downright beautiful, offering both the clean-cut properties right on the Chautauqua lakefront, and multiple creek-ridden woods that dotted the area.
I worked here:
I was lucky enough to draw a great studio number that offered me three gorgeous bay windows and more wall space than you could shake a stick at. With two desks, an easel, and plenty of floor space, I had no problem working on three things at once.
I hung out with these guys:
A gypsy moth, praying mantis, toad, frog, little brown bat, cows, and plenty of dog breeds (Vizlas, Miniature Daschunds, Golden Retriever, Labradoodle…)
With this sort of company, not only was I in paradise, but I also had plenty of inspiration for my work! One of my main concentrations while I was up in Chautauqua focused on the local bugs (and believe me, there were plenty to work from). I spent most of my nights running around the studios catching all sorts of insects (and the occasional frog), setting them up in jars (or boxes) on my desk, and doing intricate illustrations of them until the early hours of the morning. When I wasn’t doing that, I was often out visiting with local Chautauqua residents and their dogs on their porches, working on my artist book, “Chautauqua Dogs,” which was inspired by the incredible array of dog breeds the residents had to offer.
You would often find this note on my studio desk toward the end of the summer session.
And I did this:
Chopped off and buzzed my hair (or Tristan did, rather [it was way too humid for long hair]), wandered all over Chautauqua seeking out unique dog breeds (like Sir Charles, an English Pointer/American Coonhound mix), rode bareback on a horse on an Amish farm during a thunderstorm (which interrupted our landscape painting adventure), accompanied Kris (the red-head) on multiple other landscape painting adventures, and relished in the incredible opportunity of working with the esteemed and remarkably inspirational landscape painter, Stanley Lewis.
Also, between the Annual Student Exhibition at the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, the studio visit night, and various other instances (including my porch visits for the dogs), I was not only able to sell most of my work, but I was also introduced to a wonderful and unforgettable assortment of Chautauqua residents and visitors.
This is what came out of it: