Heron by the pond.

Spot the heron! The pond at Lakeside Inn in Lakeside, Michigan.

Resident Life at the Lakeside Inn Residency

For two weeks, this pond was my view out of the window, and I finally managed to get a photo of a heron, who came to the pond to eat frogs and koi. For two weeks, bird sounds were normal and my artist/writer roommates and I spotted blue jays, robins, heard woodpeckers, saw a ground woodpecker (they exist! I didn’t know that either) and of course this, or these herons. Oh, and one wild turkey!

The herons have discovered that this pond, at Lakeside Inn, is full of koi and frogs and a great place to find a great meal. Now I’m back in my suburban home, where yes, we sometimes hear birds, but at the moment it’s quiet and noises created by humans and their various motorized creations are much more common.

Lakeside Inn is in Lakeside, Michigan and the place where EXPO Chicago started, which sounds weird until you realize that there was also an art center there for decades. As ownership changed over the years, the art center closed, but now the arts connection is back in the form of an artist residency that just started up.

Rainy day seen through a window.

Our first few days were pretty rainy.

Our first few days were rainy and gray and we couldn’t venture down the 134 stairs to the beach, but during our stay, spring sprung, the sun came out, things burst into bloom and I got to walk barefoot on the beach.

Photo montage of Lakeside Inn and surroundings.

Lakeside Inn, studio building, studio, stairs down to the beach, and the grounds, plus the South Bend Museum of Art.

Residencies are about the gift of time and space. I found that I was doing more resting than expected. How lovely to sit in the sun and read a book, plan your day around studio time and a walk on the beach… I also ventured out on some field trips, going to the Lubiznek Center for the Arts in nearby Michigan City, and the South Bend Museum of Arts, 45 minutes away in the other direction. Both had some terrific shows. I rarely go to museums alone, I realized. Some larger residencies have programming, such as artist talks, in the evening, this one, being smaller, doesn’t have that, so I creating my own “programming” with field trips.

But what did I do in the studio?

Studio Time at the Lakeside Inn Residency

My original plan had been to do cyanotypes, outdoors. This turned out to not be a workable plan because a) it was a rainy April, and b) there wasn’t a dimly lit area to prepare the prints. But that’s okay, we artists if nothing if not flexible and inventive.

I’d brought along my sewing machine, my Provisional Press, a small printing press I built from a kit, and bags of collage materials and fabric. And I had a list of things to experiment with and try. One of the things on the experimentation list was to do more printing with Lego on the Provisional Press.

You can print, using the Provisional Press and Lego Tiles and Lego Dots.

Printing with Lego.

Printing with Lego Tile and Lego Dots on the Provisional Press at the Lakeside Inn Residency.

I did a ton of these prints, and then used them to make collages on watercolor paper.

Here’s a picture of my work area. I had two giant 6 foot tables, and half of a giant studio, and still ended up working on this little section of table! In my defense, to the right in this photo, there’s a large painted bit that’s drying. Still, I thought it was funny and took a picture.

Worktable covered with prints made with Lego Tiles and Dots, by Elaine Luther.

My workspace, making collages from prints made with Lego at the Lakeside Inn Residency.

Collage of prints made with wood block letters, Lego Tiles and Dots, on painted tissue paper, on watercolor paper, by Elaine Luther.

Collage of prints made with wood block letters, Lego Tiles and Dots, on painted tissue paper, on watercolor paper, by Elaine Luther.

I made something over 20 collages on heavy watercolor paper, some 9″ x 12″ and some larger. I had to pop out to the nearest art supply store to get the watercolor paper, as this wasn’t something I’d planned to do. Luckily, the location of the residency feels remote and away from regular life, but a good sized grocery store plus craft stores are not so far away for when you have a sushi or watercolor paper related emergency.

I’ll be adding mats and backer boards to these prints and putting them up for sale here on the site, so you’ll get to see more.

Right in the middle of my residency, I popped back to Chicago for the evening to attend the opening of my solo show in the window gallery at Ignition Project Space in Humboldt Park. That deserves its own post, but here are some photos of that show.

Balance & Tension Show at Ignition Project Space in Chicago, April 2023. Art by Elaine Luther

Balance & Tension Show at Ignition Project Space in Chicago, April 2023.

I also made an art quilt, most of the way through.  There’s some top stitching to be done on it that I wanted to do at home, on my better sewing machine.  Here’s an image of that, with some elements pinned in place.

Art quilt in progress by Elaine Luther.

Art quilt in progress, pinned to a design wall. Elements include rust stained fabric, rose printed commercial fabric, vintage linens, overdyed, vintage quilt block and three cyanotype prints of vintage doilies. By Elaine Luther, 2023.

I’d been thinking about this piece for a while, wanting to pair this kind of rose fabric with some cyanotype and indigo-look overdyed textiles. I printed the small cyanotypes at home before I left for the residency.

I did all the piecing for this on my “travel” sewing machine, a relatively lightweight Singer. I’ll do the top stitching at home on my quilting machine.

All in all, the residency was both productive and restful. I experimented, tried new things and – this was unexpected – came out with a whole body of work – these collages of Lego print on watercolor paper. I try to go into a residency with a plan, an open mind, and a lot of art supplies. That worked out!

Oh, and P.S., my genius studio roommate introduced me to this idea:

Photo of s'mores supplies, including Reeces Peanut Butter Cups.

S’mores supplies, including Reeces Peanut Butter Cups.

I did not know this was a thing, did you?

It’s been an amazing month! Thanks so much to Lakeside Inn Residency for hosting me! And thanks to Ignition Project Space for the show!

Now I’m off to teach textile art classes…