It was too cold to eat outside, so we sat on the couch in the living room of Carol’s old farm house.
We had homemade chicken, vegetable soup and salad with scones I brought from the The Round House Cafe. Carol’s husband Dick, who is recovering from some health issues, sat with us, mostly dozing, as Carol and I ate and talked.
Sometimes when I enter a house, it just has an ease about it.
Carol’s home is like that, filled with a warm and inviting feeling. In my experience that feeling comes from the people who live in the house. The love and connection between Carol and Dick is palpable. It permeates the house and extends to their animals. I could see it in the way their three cats wandered the house, as if swimming in the gentle energy of the place.
Carol Conklin has been a part of the Bedlam Farm Open House for years. She aways sold lots of her work, mostly the reproductions of her batiks printed on trivets, fabric, pillows, cutting boards and cards.
Batik is an expensive and time-consuming creative process so the original pieces are expensive. But Carol has found a way to make her art functional and sell it inexpensively. She also works with a company in Canada who prints her batik images on dresses, and leggings and scarves and hats.
So even if it was just the art and our figuring out the best ways to sell it, that Carol and I had in common, it would be enough. But Carol was a dairy farm for years with her husband and even though they sold their farm a while ago, animals are still an important part of Carol’s life.
After lunch we visited Carol’s llama Vanilla and her pony Star.
Vanilla, who like our sheep Zelda and Griselle, is getting old, maybe too old to weather another winter, was just about to spit at me, when Carol warned me to step back. But Star seemed to enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers. I gave her some treats and scratched her neck and under her chin. And she ran her nose up and down my body, getting to know me in her own way.
Then we went to Carols studio.
Actually Carol’s studio takes up much of the house (her work is in every in every room) and when the weather turns warm enough it extends outside too. That’s where she keeps her dye buckets, dyes her batiks and hangs them to dry.
But it’s upstairs in the old farm-house where Carol does her drawings, dripping hot wax on silk creating landscapes above and below ground, mystical horses, plants and vegetables and illustrations of her favorite myths.
Carol and I don’t get to see each other often, but since we’re not having an Open House this year, and that’s the place where Carol and I always connect, I wanted to reach out to her, because I value her friendship and don’t want to let it slip away.
I don’t have many friends who are artists who market and sell their own work for a living. It’s comforting and reassuring to have someone to talk to who understands the ups and downs of the creative life, the business part of it and balancing both.
We both agreed that through it all, the important thing to do was to always get back to our art, to keep at it.
You can see and buy Carol’s art on her blog Amity Farm Batik by clicking here. There, you can read her blog where she writes about her life as a dairy farmer and an artist and buy her art, functional pieces and originals in any of her three shops.