Saturday, June 10, 2017

A day in my life at Weir Farm

Getting settled at Weir Farm couldn't have been easier. The staff were welcoming and helpful and the weather cooperated so I was able to wander the grounds and take it all in.

My artistic goal, while here for the month, is primarily to paint interior scenes of the many historic spaces. But painting in situ is not allowed since this is a National Historic Park ...with government rules, etc. Totally understandable. So I'm working from photos (more on that in a future post) and since I'm a semi-neurotic over-achiever, I visited in advance of my stay to take pictures for prepping and planning.

Knowing that on the last Monday of each resident's stay, they give a talk at the Wilton Library presenting their work, I definitely wanted to have some finished paintings to show! So I actually started the painting of Mahonri Young's sculpture studio (Weir's brother-in-law) at home. It felt good to have one painting completed within a few days of arrival. People do stop by to chat and if all I had to show were the early/ugly stages it would not be encourging! That's just how it is with early stages: gangly adolescents.

interior paintings, studio space, studio interior
Mahonri's Sculpture Studio, Weir Farm ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze

The first full week of painting included some distractions. Doctor follow-ups that couldn't be rescheduled as well as interviews with two local papers. Stephanie Kim of the Wilton Villager has published her very kind comments already and you can read her article here. Meanwhile, it rained a lot and I worked in the studio for hours most days.

I'm focusimg on new habits this month and another goal is to spend time out doors walking, hiking... being. It's easy to be seduced by nature here. There are 60 acres of land with miles of hiking trails that also connect with a larger network of CT trails. I haven't ventured beyond the Weir acres but I'm proud to say, I have walked every day, barring downpours. (plus taken advantage of the open, zen-like upper floor of the cottage to exercise on rainy days.) And here's the thing I've discovered - when I get into the studio after spending 45 minutes out in the fields and woods, I feel  more connected to my work. Isn't that amazing?!!

hiking trails

In addition to the natural beauty, there are gorgeous gardens, naturalized and formal, that just happen to be blooming with peonies and iris. The thing I haven't done yet that is on my must-do list is to sketch on the grounds. But, I know I'll get to it.

My second painting is a simple scene of the butler's pantry. Well, not so simple because the perspective was difficult with so many angles of walls and cabinets. And then there was the matter of putting dishes on the shelves. But that's the kind of challenge I enjoy. It was the light in this scene that first captured my attention.

pantry, china shelves
Butler's Pantry ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze

Today I painted from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm with a nice long walk midday. A perfect and productive day. As I returned to the studio after dinner a group of painters were arriving for an evening painting class with Dmitri Wright, so when I was done I went out looking and found them dotting the landscape like fireflies. It was dusk and they were totally into it! I would never have thought of painting outdoors at that hour, but it seemed truly wonderful and I will have to try it. Another inspiration from Weir Farm!

It was nice to chat with fellow artists (this is a rather solitary experience) and on the way back "home" I passed the windows of the visitor center aglow in the twilight. This house was formerly the home of a Weir daughter and you can just imagine the family discussing plans for the next day... 100 years ago.

Good night from Weir Farm!

 Thanks for joining me on my artistic journey.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I am an artist in residence at the Carpenter Ranch here in Colorado. I appreciate your blog and it inspires me to write more about the personal experience here. Where is Weir Farm?

  2. Hi Chula, thanks for your comment. Weir Farm is in Wilton CT. It's a one month residency in a small single person cottage on the property (which is a National Park Historic Site) There is one artist at a time and you kind of need to have a car for groceries and laundry. I was able to drive so it was easy for me.
    Lots of people are interested in residency experiences so it helps to blog for their edification but I think it also helps me to clarify my experience. Give it a try - you may be surprised by the observations you make. Enjoy your residency!


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