Have you seen the movie American Animals? I watched it on the plane. The beginning lines particularly struck me….  “My life is great and I am really good at drawing, but there has to be more to art,” laments Spencer, a talented young artist in search of a life altering experience. “Look at Van Gogh, Monet”, he says. “Even Audubon went to prison.”  

After being in awe of a rare Audubon book in the Special Collections room at his college library, Spencer convinces a friend who convinces others to steal the book for money. A creative drive becomes the fool - immature, misguided teenagers -in search of an escape from boredom or fear. All four protagonists land in prison for seven years. True story.

Who isn’t looking for an altering experience to push them closer to their true selves? This residency at Ballinglen has been an engaging, creative experience for me and I didn’t have to steal anything. The view and generosity was free in Ireland. And goodness, my life is great and might even have a few good drawings.

Thoughts as I fly back home? DRAW. DRAW. DRAW. And, with the prompt from fellow artists, use the pencil as a sculptor’s tool. Let the line take me further into an inquiry about keen observation. And my love affair with stones? Curious to see where that path leads me.



So back the movie and Spencer. The movie ends with an update of each of the four – in their late twenties. Spencer now lives a few blocks from his parents, in the same town where he went to college.

  He has an artist studio. He paints birds.