For the past two years I have been accepted as a fellow at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. This is an artists colony that was started by Marion MacDowell, the wife of Edward MacDowell one of the first famous American composers of classical music.
Artists in many different fields, (composers, painters, writers, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, and architects) apply for residency and are selected by a jury of their peers after submitting an application that includes work samples. If one gets selected, one can choose to stay between one and eight weeks. I stayed three weeks each time. Each artist is given a studio to use. These studios, all independent structures are not so small cottages that are designed for the discipline of the artist who will stay there. Mine, for instance, had a Steinway grand piano where I sat all day and wrote music.
The colony is situated on 450 acres of forest and meadow just to the east of Mount Monadnock. Each cottage has a lot of privacy as they are spread out in a way that you cannot see anyone elses studio from your own. It is so wonderful really.
There is a main building which includes a dining hall where we all have breakfast. Then we each go back out to our studios and work. At about noon a hot lunch with a thermos of soup and coffee is delivered in a picnic basket and placed outside the studio door. Almost every day I was so absorbed in my work that I did not even hear the basket being dropped off.
At 6:30 we gather back in the dining center for dinner served family. Then at 7:30, almost every evening, one of the artists shares some of his or her work, (writers read, painters show slides, I played piano playing the tunes I was writing.) A discussion usually follows sometimes going until 11 or later at night. People play ping-pong or pool and hang out together. It is so stimulating and so inspiring to be among such talented, creative and hard working people.
Also the grounds at MacDowell are incredibly beautiful and wild. Just walking in the woods outside is often all the inspiration one needs to recharge.
I am filled with gratitude that a place like MacDowell exists. And I am especially grateful that they thought I was talented enough to make me a fellow two years in a row. It is amazing how productive one can be when there are no phones or computers to distract you. Their website is quite wonderful too if you want to learn more about it or apply for residency yourself. Be sure and look at their little 5 minute video called MacDowell Moments to get a flavor of this very magical place.