Drawing Year alumna Rosie Vohra reflects on her ESMoA Residency, California
Drawing Year alumnus Rosie Vohra was selected for a three month residency at El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA) in California between July and September 2018. Here she describes her time at ESMoA and the impact that this new environment had on her practice.
When I arrived in El Segundo I felt quite nervous about moving to a new place for three months on my own and meeting a whole group of new people. I spent the first few days in shock about how beautiful the studio and apartment was and how close to the beach I was. I was itching to start working so I jumped on a bus to Santa Monica and stocked up on art supplies. A few days later I met the ESMoA family and upon meeting them I instantly felt welcomed and calm.
The Just Draw classes played a very important part during my time in LA and towards my experience as a teacher. I had the opportunity to teach a really diverse group of people with mixed abilities which meant I had to adapt and design my classes so they could be accessed by everyone. We worked with collage, drawing from negative space and collaborated on small concertina books. I visited the Sr. Corita Kent Museum in Hollywood during the residency and decided to relay some of her classes to the Just Draw group, one of them being the act of looking and drawing our surroundings through small view finders.
The majority of friends that I made during the residency were through teaching at Just Draw. I felt so fortunate to meet such a lovely group of people who wanted to invite me to events, take me on day trips and explore different parts of LA. My time was filled with a great warmth and openness from the people I met. A particular trip that stands out for me was going to Joshua Tree National Park with Holly from ESMoA and visiting Noah Purifoy’s Sculpture Park in the desert.
At this time, I was approaching painting in a different way to what I normally would. I was drawing onto the canvas beforehand, in the hope to play with the elements of the painting before things felt more permanent. My application of paint changed as well, I had begun to paint very clean and crisp gradients of colour. I think this may have been a reaction to the bright space and the stark contrast of light and shadow that is cast onto objects and buildings in LA. I felt I could paint nose-close on one painting for hours.
After walking around Noah’s Sculpture park in the blistering heat, it injected a sense of urgency into my work and I realised I crave two different paces of making in my practice. On one hand, a slow, technical way of rendering colour and line. And on the other, a more clunky intuitive way of drawing, note taking and decision making. To keep this balance, I began to work on smaller collages and drawings alongside my larger paintings.
Alongside teaching, I had an open studio that ran alongside El Segundo Art Walk. This took place roughly half way through the residency which worked really well as a way for me to reflect on the work I had made and for a refresh of the space. It was a great opportunity to show the Just Draw members, ESMoA staff and other members of the public what I had been making on the residency.
Ultimately, this period of time has been a very nourishing and rewarding experience which has led my work in a new fruitful direction. Often, my work was the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I saw before bed, it allowed for my thoughts to feel seamless and I feel I have found ways of working that will continue to benefit my practice today.
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Find out more about the ESMoA residency here
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