India, February 2024: My stay at Palette People Artists Residency

Painting on the veranda of our apartment at PPAR

A month in India

In February 2024, I escaped the Montreal winter with my husband Neil to spend a month in southern India! There, we spent the first 2 weeks enjoying great times with family in Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam (also known as “Vizag”), and Chennai, and getting to know some of the places they call home. We also visited Hampi – an enchanting destination (and a UNESCO World Heritage site) , featuring astounding ruins from the 14th – 16th centuries, and located in one of the most unique landscapes on the planet – as well as Kochi, widely recognized as the spice capital of the world.

2 weeks for art!

In mid-February, we headed to a beautiful artist residency located near the hill station of Vagamon, in the Idukki district of Kerala, where I spent 2 weeks, and Neil stayed for 1. Details below!

My stay at Palette People Artist Residency (PPAR)

Artwork: Paava kutti (little doll) and watercolours

During my stay, I created 8 small dolls from repurposed Indian fabric  scraps (helpfully provided by family members I visited earlier in the trip). This collection of figures will be featured in an upcoming animated work named “Paava Kutti”, or “little doll” (title courtesy of Benny, the caretaker and cook!) . I also created some watercolour paintings of the verdant landscape. Below is a sample of the work I created and a bit of the creation process.

About Palette People Artists Residency

Palette People Artists Residency (PPAR) far surpassed any expectations I may have had – from the photos and descriptions, I knew the locale would be beautiful, but I did not expect such a lush, varied, and dreamlike landscape. The residency was a tranquil, spacious oasis where I could immerse myself in creative endeavours while being inspired by the local sights and sounds.

Cyril P. Jacob, PPAR founder and host

Cyril was a wonderful host: He ensured that all our needs were addressed throughout our stay. Given the residency’s remote location, it was highly reassuring to have transportation to and from PPAR, all meals, and any other requirements taken care of! He also introduced us and the other artists to the area on several long walks, where we learned that, in addition to tea, various crops are grown locally, including black pepper and cardamom – proving that we were indeed in the “Spice Garden of Kerala”! We also met some of his local acquaintances and colleagues, and learned about Cyril’s ongoing activities in the arts. His dedication to the arts through his constant promotion of artists, exhibits, workshops, and other related initiatives, is truly inspiring.

Authentic Keralan cuisine – by Benny!

It was a pleasure to make Benny’s acquaintance: His  warmth and good nature immediately put us at ease. Each meal was a delight, as we sampled regional dishes that he had expertly prepared – and that, we were told, would not be found anywhere outside of the area! As I write this, I am longing for a plate of Benny’s appam and kadala curry – the perfect start to a day of creating (…or any day)! I’ll have to wait until my next visit!

Benny with jackfruit

Local coffee

We also became enchanted with the local spiced coffee – prepared with cardamom, cloves, and sugar (and likely some additional ingredients that we could not detect!) this concoction became a must-have and was all the motivation we needed for the 30-minute walk into Uluppoonni, the neighbouring town, where the general store and coffee shop were located.

Work and living spaces at PPAR

One of the best parts of the residency was that it provided multiple spaces in which artists could work and reflect: Each artist’s apartment had a veranda overlooking the hills, and the the path behind PPAR provided an elevated view from where we could watch the sunset. The large studio also afforded views of the landscape from 3 sides, and was a great place to work throughout the day and into the evening. The exterior walls of the buildings were adorned with artwork by past residents, and at any time, we could hear the sounds of the surrounding nature: Birdsong, insects, the wind…plus the daily, local life, which included tea harvesting, the occasional wandering cow, and trucks and jeeps lumbering past, transporting materials, groups of workers, and/or weekend holidayers.

Remembering PPAR – until the next time!

I look forward to becoming a “returning artist” at PPAR – thank you for the wonderful, unforgettable experience!

Sunrise, viewed from PPAR

 

My COVID-19 vacation: Stay-at-home artist residency, May 1-25, 2020

Still image from Great Blue Heron (Not staying long), short animation

During the month of May, I did a stay-at-home artist residency when my overseas travel plans got cancelled. Watch the video summary here, or keep reading for details.

May 2020. Like many who had planned vacations during this time, mine too got cancelled. I had been accepted to a 2-week artist residency on the Greek island of Kefalonia and had planned some time before and after for a bit of independent wandering in Athens and other parts. Alas, this was not to be.

Although I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see a new country (and a beautiful, culturally vibrant one at that) or have the opportunity to share an immersive experience with other resident artists, there were advantages to spending this time off at home:

If the main goal of the trip was to create artwork, then home was an excellent location to do just that, for a number of reasons:

  • At home, my entire toolbox (or TOYbox, depending on my mood) is at my disposal:  I couldn’t have brought it all with me had I left home. I had 3 weeks and my choice of materials to create anything I wanted.
  • My dedicated art studio of easel, drafting table and animation stand are located within mere feet of one another in our apartment:  Absolutely no travel or setup time required.
My art studio, 6 AM

And last but not least, I had the company of my wonderfully supportive spouse and our 2 (equally supportive) cats to whom I no longer had to say goodbye for the duration – the dreaded downside to my solo travels.  

Staycation artist residency: activities

Main objectives:

  1. Continue working on my animation in progress, “Costa Rica’s creatures” – a short, handmade work about the wildlife and geography of Costa Rica, based on my travel there in 2018.
  2. Create illustrations and short animations inspired by fashion and nature.

Other activities – the joys of Montréal

I also had the chance to watch our beautiful city blossom, day by day, from spring into summer on multiple running/hiking jaunts to Parc du Mont-Royal, walks through our Plateau neighbourhood, and (socially distanced) picnics (for two) in Parc La Fontaine. All this, plus a bonus sighting of 2 Great Blue Herons who graced our park with their presence for a few days while the pond was low and inspired some artwork (see illustration at the top of this post).

Final thoughts

Although my work does not speak directly to world issues (for now), I believe that nothing is created in a vacuum. Had it not been for COVID-19, this report would have been completely different.

As I write this, the world is being transformed by two incredible forces: one a pandemic, and now a global uprising against racial inequality, calling for change that is long overdue. I am humbled by the magnitude of both, and their impact on life as we know it.

I share the hope – and belief – that our world will emerge from this period a kinder, stronger and more just place for all.

Thank you for reading – wishing everyone safety and good health.

30 Days in Venice (30 things learned) – le film d’animation complet // full animation

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Je suis heureuse d’annoncer que mon film d’animation 30 Days in Venice (30 things learned) est maintenant terminé! Vous pouvez voir le film complet ici:

30 Days in Venice (30 things learned) 

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I am delighted to announce that my animated film 30 Days in Venice (30 things learned) is now complete! You can see the full animation here:

30 Days in Venice (30 things learned)