Into the Woods

By December 20, 2018 Art, BEYOND THE STUDIO DOOR
The Woods in Woodstock, NY

Occasionally, I shut the studio door and go away. I like to think of these posts as Beyond the Studio Door. This one is about my winter trip to Woodstock, NY. It’s a little musing on my artist’s life and a mini travel guide. Enjoy!

Recently, I read a riddle that goes like this…

What has seven letters?

It is impossible to do?

If you eat it, it will kill you?

My husband got it right away. I took a little longer.

Being an artist is the most rewarding thing I do. I get to make work that is significant to me. I often have the joy of seeing it become meaningful to someone else.  To live a creative life is an extraordinary gift that I’m grateful for every day.

Still, it’s a constant struggle not to get discouraged with the everyday business tasks of applying to shows and finding ways to market work without going broke. Although, the actual making of my art is fulfilling it’s never easy. Keeping a connection with emotion and filling what I like to think of as “The Well” takes awareness and attention. Artist days are busy days.

And, like any life, there is the weight of the everyday. Responding to the unexpected and unraveling balls of emotion. Not to mention the daily drudgery of scrubbing toilets and doing the laundry. It all piles up over time.

Sometimes, I forget that even though I love what I do…I still need a break. It can be hard to do that when you work from home.

2018 ends with a winter escape to do “nothing.”

By the way that is the answer to the riddle:)

Time for a break to head into the woods.

I kept my camera handy to snap some inspiration photos to share with you.

Airbnb House in Woodstock, NY

Where to stay.

Airbnb Ophelia – Classic Woodstock Artist House

If you have never booked a place with Airbnb, I have to tell you it’s awesome, but just a little strange at first.

You basically rent out someone’s house. This is very cool if you love to see how people decorate and want to travel like a local. The thing is….even though you have the house key that first time you open the door you feel like you are breaking and entering.

We came up the winding driveway through the pines just as the sun was setting. We booked the house called “Ophelia” not because Bob Dylan’s band “The Band” did a photo shoot here back in the sixties but because it has a fireplace. The one thing we wanted was to chill out in front of a warm fire.

The sun goes down fast this time of year. It goes down even faster in the woods. The horizon disappears and the only light is the flicker of a fingernail moon between the pines feathery silhouettes. It’s dark. Have you seen the Blair Witch? Kinda like that.

Time to make a fire. There is firewood stacked everywhere here but alas no kindling. The owner asked that we bring some because apparently just picking things up from the woods isn’t a good idea.  Fire safety…it’s a real thing. Even more real when you have strangers burning things in your house. I get it.

Anyways…we decided to call it a night.

Ah…such a delight to crawl into a really comfortable bed in a room lined with fresh pine paneling. Eyes slowly getting heavy. Then popping wide open to the shrill cries of banshees outside the window. Everything inside me screamed, “pack up! run for the suburbs!” My husband simply said “coyotes.”

Ah…after a long night of tossing and turning I opened my eyes to winter morning light streaming in the windows high above the bed.  Snuggled under a feather comforter feeling like a little bird cuddled up in a nest high among the pines. I said simply to my husband “Coffee.”

After a quick trip down the road to Woodstock Hardware, we picked up proper kindling and got busy doing nothing in front of the fire. Occasionally, getting up to look out windows in search of coyotes. I suppose we could have gone all gourmet since the little house called “Ophelia” has a kitchen fit for a chef. I reheated leftovers.

The longer I stayed in the little house the more I didn’t want to leave. That’s what is really nice about the places on Airbnb. After a while, someone else’s house starts to feel like yours.

What to see.

Although the famous Woodstock festival didn’t actually take place here this very walkable little town has its share of hippie shops mixed in with trendy gifts and local art. In case you are wondering…the festival actually took place over an hour away on a farm property in Bethel, NY.

There is art everywhere in this little town. The perfect thing to do if you need to do something while doing nothing;)

Kleinert/James Center for the Arts  This is where the artists from Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild exhibit work. The guild is one of the earliest utopian art colonies in America. I didn’t get to visit the mountainside campus but really enjoyed seeing a huge collection of small pieces hanging for their holiday show.

The Center for Photography at Woodstock  Definitely glad I stopped into to see some very impressive large-scale pieces in the Photography Now 2018 Show. Although I enjoy playing around with my camera I have no training, so seeing these professional photographers work in person is very inspiring. 

Woodstock Artist Association & Museum  Apparently, way back in 1938 Life magazine referred to this artist-run space as a “local Louvre.” I was most struck by artist Carole Kunstadt’s installation called Pressing On. Reimagining vintage irons with text and embellishments. Visually beautiful and thought-provoking about women’s domestic work.

The Center For Photography At Woodstock in Woodstock, NY

Where to eat.

Yum Yum Noodle Bar This is a really cute place that does lunch 7 days a week. That’s a good thing because sometimes quirky upstate eateries can keep limited hours in the offseason or midweek.  Steamed buns with pickles are a revelation in snack food…truly yum-yum!

Shindig We sat in the window with a view of the village green. It’s a mix of locals and tourists in this cozy place, perfect for eavesdropping oh…I mean overhearing great conversations and eating an amazing brunch. Check the board for the daily specials and get something with local maple syrup.

Bread Alone This is the place to pick up a sweet treat or a fresh loaf of bread to take back to enjoy in front of the fire. And a John Muir quote too!

Silvia  This was our splurge dinner. We sat in the moody bar area with gorgeous teal velvet seating and marble table tops against a wall covered with art. It’s fun to be fancy especially when the food is so good. My vegetarian dreams came true with honey nut squash carpaccio and seared trumpet mushrooms. Not to worry if vegetables frighten you. There is something for everyone. My carnivore husband went home with leftovers. We both added Silvia to our best restaurant list.

Silvia, Woodstock, NY

“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread

places to play and pray, where nature

heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir

Get Cozy.

As fun as it is to walk all over Woodstock in the snow, it’s sitting fireside soaking up the heat that makes me almost like winter.  Maybe just one more nap in front of the fire before going back to work in the studio:)

Wishing you the warmest of holidays with friends and family.

Thank you for supporting my art in big and small ways this past year!

Tell me where do you go when you need to do “nothing”?


Author Siobhan


More posts by Siobhan

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Audrey Bedford says:

    I wrote a comment a few days ago, but don’t think I submitted it. Anyway, I loved your pictures and the comments you made in your post. There is nothing like Mother Nature and all her glory no matter what time of year it is. Your vacation sounded like Heaven to me. I’m so glad you could go. I hope you and Michael had a good Christmas Day. Sending love, joy, and peace. Happy Painting! We love you. Mom & Dad B.

  • Barbi says:

    What a timely post – I agree, and relate, to how busy working from home can be. Sometimes I think it can feel more so because we ARE at home, there’s no pressing need to leave the office for home. ‍♀️

    Your get-away sounds like it was so lovely. My husband and I tried air bnb for the first time this year, in San Diego. That is where I prefer to go to renew my inspirations – there’s just something about that Pacific coast that fills me up. Perhaps it’s because I love in a dessert now… As an native of the Northeast, there are times when I do miss those familiar woods – and even the snow – but not the cold – It was great being just two hours from everything – City, country, ocean, or woods.

    I love and admire your work. I find it very inspiring – and challenging even. The amount of detail you add to your gorgeous color fields… It makes me feel lazy – haha! Truly, I can only imagine the time and attention it takes to complete a piece. It really seems like it would be a labor of love.

    We are planning a trip home this year (Philly area)- hopefully it will be during the time of your open studio. I would really love to see your work in person.

    Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly with us! Happy New Year

    • Siobhan says:

      Barbi…Thank you so much for your kind words. It would be lovely for you to come to the open studio in May, I hope it works into your travel plans.
      The Pacific is a magically inspiring place! I hope to return someday. And, yes the beauty of fresh snow is the reward we get for enduring winter around here.
      I checked out your site this morning and you don’t seem in the littlest bit lazy!…Enjoy your journey and love your endeavors in painting!

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