By Guest Artist and Blogger Michele Z. Farrier
During the enjoyable experience of being Artist in Residence in the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, each day began with ‘setting up’ two easels—one in oil and one in pastel—and making the big decision of the day. What shall I focus on today?
Throughout the three weeks of the residency, I found that I was constantly learning a variety of things about myself and my work that were unexpected.
As a plein air artist, I usually work in the field, so being inside a museum was an adjustment. However, I came to enjoy it immensely. I looked at my work differently and without the sense of time pressure that plein air painting instills. I found that I spent more time looking and analyzing than I do in the field where time and light are fleeting.
Painting while interacting with museum visitors was a very different format for me also. It allowed me to pause, discuss, and reassess my work. I frequently shared Hawthorne’s color temperature theory that I strive to accomplish in my own work. This continually confirmed specific principles in my own mind. I found that each time I stopped to visit, I ‘restarted’ on a piece, pausing to evaluate before starting in again. This is something that I will enjoy taking with me as a practice.
Being an art teacher for 20+ years, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the museum visitors. They come from all over the world and have a multitude of experiences and interests to share. I especially enjoyed observing reactions to my work. Usually I am alone in the wilderness painting. Seeing reactions to my work and process was insightful.
I found that there were many people inspired by the museum to do their own art work and, as an art teacher, I found it exciting to encourage and share art concepts and technique with them. I had a number of informal color wheel studies as well as brush and pastel handling workshops. It was fun to see people light up with recognition of subject. I sure hope that these visitors were as inspired as I was with the surrounding art and have continued to practice.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West has five incredible museums along with special programs that overfill any time that you may have. Two times daily there were large bird viewings in the patio area that were amazing. I got out to draw them only once, but would have enjoyed spending my entire summer taking advantage of this opportunity. Time simply goes by us, leaving one with the desire to return.
The infrastructure, clientele, staff, and administration of the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West are all inspirational. I will cherish the experience and all that I was able to gain and share. I am grateful to have formed a bond and fruitful collaboration with this incredible institution.
BIO: Michele’s interest in plein air has been a joy for her. She is active and enjoys time out of doors observing for hours at a time. Her passion is evident in her many workshops and residencies. Michele taught art K – 12 for Teton County School District for 19 years. She has a BA in Art from UC Davis and a K – 12 Art Teaching Credential from CSU, Sacramento. Her work can be found at DeSelm’s Fine Art in Cheyenne, Guchiebird’s in Driggs, Idaho, as well as in the Wyoming State Collection and the new Ivinson Hospital in Laramie.