The first part of my art and yoga retreat recap. Get a peek into the first day of our Mexican jungle adventure!Read More
For longer than I can remember I've been pondering ways to connect with other creative people and foster a community of sharing ideas and art experimentation. One day, the dream is to own a small farm off the beaten path, with studio spaces and cabins for art retreats and artist residencies. That's in the very early planning stages but in the meantime, I'm thrilled to be taking the plunge and co-host an art and yoga retreat in the jungle! Yes! Come January 2019, my friend Mandy and I will be hosting 10 guests at Tailwind Jungle Lodge, three miles outside of San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico. (If you or someone you know might be interested, please get in touch to learn more or visit my retreat page)
Why Mexico? Why the jungle? If you know me, you know I have escaped to Mexico for several weeks most winters for the last 6 years. Going back even further I have been lucky enough to travel domestically and internationally for the better part of a decade, and these adventures ALWAYS inspire me creatively. I carry a sketchbook and draw the people I see in restaurants, on mass transit or on the beach. Sometimes I bring watercolors or colored pencils. Other times I roll up un-stretched canvas, brushes, and my acrylic paints, and find a rooftop to perch on so I can paint the view... or something that the view inspires.
I find when I travel, I'm so much more open to life's possibilities. I talk to strangers (and have made lifelong friends). I journal and sketch more (every day I'm traveling). I read a ton, because many of my destinations don't offer reliable wifi, and it's nice not to have the distraction of constantly streaming video, emails and social media. And as I've already mentioned, I paint! Traveling me is the me I want to be every day, so it got me thinking more about this idea of art retreats and residencies.
I love the idea of bringing together a small community and making time to be open and create in an uncomplicated environment. I know so many people, both professional artists and those who simply enjoy the act of creating things, who have one thing in common: they all wish they had more time to relax, reconnect with themselves and create. So this is me, inviting you to do just that! There is no skill level requirement. In fact, the less experience you have making art, the better! This is all about allowing yourself to experiment.
My vision for the retreat is pretty simple: make space and time to immerse ourselves in nature, and the sites and sounds of the communities we'll visit, and let the creativity flow! We'll start everyday off with a gentle yoga session to open our minds and bodies, then we'll transition to the paint studio where we'll experiment with random mark making, collage, colored pencils, watercolors, stencils, paper, canvas and more. We'll go on daily adventures, with our sketchbooks in hand and share conversations about our daily inspirations. I'm still fleshing out the final "structure" but I know it's going to be a fun and inspirational journey! We'll keep it loose and leave lots of room for play. At the end of the day, it's not about creating a singular "perfect" piece of art, but more about creating a little something every day of the retreat. Allowing yourself the time for creativity to flow, learning how to use art making (doodling counts as art making too) as a tool to meditate and problem solve back in the real world... these are my goals for the retreat!
The Jungle Lodge is booked, as is the chef, and two spots have already sold. This is so very exciting! I can hardly wait. Stay tuned for more details as the planning continues. And if you want to know more, don't hesitate to get in touch, or check the retreat page.
Years ago on a visit to Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico I'd started this canvas. I had visions of bright colors and capturing the shadows cast by these metal lanterns on my friend's rooftop patio, but on the last day of the trip, the sun didn't cooperate and I brought the canvas home unfinished. The next year, I brought this giant canvas back down with the same vision in mind, yet I couldn't recreate the scene I'd had in my head the previous year, so I brought the giant canvas back to Portland again.
After pondering how to complete this painting, I remembered a sunset dinner I'd had with friends in NYC. Perched on a rooftop on the upper west side, we watched the sun disappear as it changed the light of the sky. Windows and building facaded reflecting back the bright pinks, oranges and purples against an ever darker blue sky, which changed my plan for this painting drastically!
I'd mostly finished it about two years ago, and it's been hanging unstretched in my basement clay studio. My upcoming show at Symposium Coffee, inspired me to have it stretched while I was in Mexico, so it'd be ready to go when I got home. The funny thing about that... once stretched, that sucker was way too big to fit in my little GTI! Fortunately, I only live a few blocks from I've Been Framed. The trip home went a little something like this...
Chugging along finishing up my limbo paintings as part of the 30 in 30 challenge. I started this guy during my August painting trip to New York. Trying to capture the rapidly changing light of a stunning sunset from a balcony in Long Island City... it's hard work! So I snapped a few photos, with my phone and in my imagination and finished it up yesterday.
Last night I hopped a red eye from Portland to JFK. I barely slept but somehow managed to sleepwalk my way from JFK to the AirTran, to the E, to my friend's place for a power nap, with minimal issue. I did manage to break the retractable handle on my roller bag exiting Port Authority! That complicated things a bit, but I digress.
After breakfast and a power nap, I started my day of scouting out the locations generously offered to me, by friends of friends. So many fun ideas, my tired brain is a bit overwhelmed! Here's a peek at the views from the places I've seen so far.
Rooftop Two (Technically a Balcony)
I took a million photos, but it's more fun if we leave a little mystery, don't you think? I've got one more location to check out today and tomorrow I get to work! Have any advice or ideas? Please share, and follow along on instagram @nicole_m_curcio. I think I need another nap...More soon!
This summer has been a whirlwind of activity- planning a wedding at your home can certainly take a person away from other tasks, like making art! (more on the wedding later) But the party is over, and now I am back to making new work!
A few summers ago while in NYC on a business trip for my day job, I snuck in some time on a friend's rooftop in Brooklyn and made some fast sketches and paintings from the view. Ever since then I've been daydreaming of creating my own artist residency of sorts- scheduling time to paint from the rooftops, so I decided to do a little outreach to see if it's possible. Lucky for me I know some incredible people, with friends in high places (pun!), so as it stands right now I have three possible locations for this project, with a few more options to explore.
I plan to create 3-4 larger paintings and several smaller canvases, similar in style to my 30 Paintings in 30 Days project (scroll back through the blog to see those). Can I do it? Will you watch and keep me accountable? I'll be landing in NYC on August 11, and will post regularly to share my progress. I may even interview other artists along the way.
The drive from Portland to Three Forks, MT takes just about 12 hours. We took our time and stopped along the way, but when we finally met up with our friends Saturday night it was nice to know we wouldn't be spending so much time in the car the next day.
My friends live on a 20 acre plot of land outside of Three Forks and it is so very quiet here. Laying in bed our first night the only sound was silence. Sunday morning their roosters crowing was my alarm clock, but I managed to sleep in a few more hours. After breakfast we hit the road to hike in the Gallatin National Forest.
Day Three was a good day. Today (Monday) is off to a slow start, but I'm sure we'll find a little adventure before too long.
The last couple of years have been largely about personal and creative exploration. I have an insatiable wanderlust, barely kept in check by a lack of funds. I find travel, whether it's local day trips, national excursions, or international exploration, to be inspirational in so many ways. Lately my travels have been fueling my Cityscape artwork, as I translate the colors, energy and emotion I experience while interacting with different places and cultures into art.
My cities are largely fantastical, emerging from a series of brush strokes and colors, layering one on top of another. They allude to places I've been or situations I've experienced, but are meant to be open to interpretation. It's fun to hear people discuss their own ideas of what each piece represents to them, and I'm always thrilled when someone makes a personal connection with my work- it may remind them of a place or culture they remember fondly, which is completely different than what may have inspired me. Sometimes they know exactly the inspiration. Other times they want to talk about it; they want me to tell them what it is they're looking at. I guess my paintings are largely my way to interact with cultures and individuals and share a moment of whimsy.
As I write this post, I sit in my friend Cori's living room in San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico. We've begun an unofficial creative exchange program: she stays with me during the Portland summers, and I escape to her home here to paint and recalibrate in the gloomy Portland winters. It's a pretty great balance. We chat about art, (creative) self-promotion, food, life. It's relaxing and inspirational to see the life she's made here for herself here in San Pancho, and in Sayulita where her gallery is.
I've been painting on her rooftop in the sun, enjoying the sights and sounds of San Pancho. Here's a few snapshots with more to come.