Interview about Mexican Residency:
Q: Ted and Anna, tell us where you are.
Ted: We are in Michoacan at an artist residency called Guapamacataro Center for Art and Ecology.
Q: What kind of environment is it? Where are you staying and working?
Ted: It’s like being on the Ponderosa about 100 years ago. We stay and work in a big hacienda, parts of which were built in the 1750s. There are five residents here for three weeks, and we each have our own studio to work in. It’s very rural, with cows, horses and livestock all around us.
Anna: And a very cute litter of puppies.
Q: Did you know how you were going to use your time before you got to Mexico? How did you prepare?
Ted: I had no idea what I was going to do. I brought lots of different supplies to draw and paint with. I bought fabric in the town about 10 miles away and am now making a large painting about village life.
Anna: I came prepared with a project, because I’m the planning type. I’m continuing a painting series based on endangered animals called “Terrariums,” and am concentrating on the jaguar, which no longer exists in California. The last week I painted a huge mural on the living room wall!
Q: How is this residency affecting your work?
Ted: I’m not used to being in an agrarian environment. I notice all the patterns in the fields, the tile roofs, the traditional fabrics people wear here. I realized I wanted to focus on the view from my studio window, looking out on a two room school house and dirt road, where everyone passes by. I’m trying to show the life of the village. There’s a whole tradition in Mexico of illustrating a lot of activity in one big painting or mural, and that’s also influenced me.
Anna: The colors, of course, are incredible here, oranges and greens and fantastic stormy skies. I generally paint like a crazy person, without editing, and later I’ll figure out if anything is worth saving. It was interesting that by week three I was finally doing works that were affected by the actually hacienda (the mural, and a series of small paintings with Ted)--it took that long to get out of my normal routine.
Q: Anything you’d like to add anything else about being on a residency in a foreign country?
Ted: You have to be ready for anything, because you don’t know how being away from your normal studio practice will affect you.
Anna: We also like to take short trips away from the residency for breaks, because spending all day working with no distractions is draining. Local small museums and cultural centers are inspiring.
Q: Where your next spot?
Ted and Anna: We’re hoping to go to China!
Anna does most of the writing. Ted does most of the photos. But sometimes we switch. We are repairing a distressed property in 29 Palms, California, and eventually hope to run an artist residency there.