GTPulse: Local Artist Spends Time Exploring Craft at Tusen Takk
Brianne Farley spent last month at Tusen Takk, the idyllic artist residency located in Leelanau County. The local artist already has a prolific children’s book career and has written one of my personal favorites, Ike’s Incredible Ink.
In the book, Ike is an inkblot shaped character that is ready to write a story. He knows he has one to tell but he can’t get started until he completes a few pressing tasks. He cleans the house, has a long chat on the phone with his best pal, and even hunts down the perfect pen before realizing that what he truly needs to get started is not the perfect pen, but the perfect ink. The rest of the story follows his journey creating the Incredible Ink he’ll need to write one of his own. It’s a fun adventure for kids and an all too relatable trope in procrastination for adults.
“Your quality of life definitely goes up when you have a deadline,” she laughed. “All of a sudden my laundry really needs to get done.”
She didn’t spend her time hunting for the perfect ink at Tusen Takk. Not that she would need to, with six different studios and sprawling natural beauty, there’s no shortage of supplies or inspiration. She writes and illustrates children’s books, but a lot of her time at Tusen Takk was dedicated to exploring mediums that she hadn’t worked with in some time.
Brianne grew up in Traverse City and didn’t always know that children’s books would be a part of her work. Originally she went to school to study English.
“I was an art minor. I just really liked taking art classes. And then I moved to Chicago and was working at the Art Institute as an administrative assistant and you could take classes for free at the School of the Art Institute if you were an employee of the museum. So I was taking all these classes and I took a children’s book class, I took an extended program did block printing. I just kept coming back to writing and illustrating. I really loved both of those things so much that children’s books just seemed the most natural.”
Tusen Takk is a beautiful escape into nature that provides artists with time, space and materials that allow them to fully dedicate themselves to creative projects. Located in Leland, founder Geoffrey Peckham had acclaimed architect and friend Peter Bohlin design Tusen Takk. When Geoffrey and his wife Patricia moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan, it was important for them as Christians to share the beauty of Northern Michigan by gifting artists of all backgrounds the distraction-free time and space to create. Brianne is the # artist to participate in a residency a Tusen Takk.
“I was actually trying to talk my friends who write children’s books and live in New York into applying for the residency as a way to get them to come visit me. I was telling them, ‘This place is so cool. You can go there and write your manuscript, no distractions.’ And then I thought, that does sound pretty good.”
She spent her time playing with mediums beyond writing and illustrating, including a return to block printing. Instead of approaching the residency with restrictions or pressure, she went into the experience wanting with the understanding that she wanted to explore and make mistakes. Her days were filled with writing, sketching, carving, walks, and her dog Buster.
“The thing I really appreciated about my time here is that the focus isn’t really on output focuses on just having the time and space and materials to do what you need to do to further your practice. Like with the manuscript, I might not have a manuscript that I can send out today, but I have gone through more drafts and more pages of my sketchbook in the last two weeks than I have in the last six months. That feels great.”
The intentional time and space may have come to a close, but the inspiration will carry over as Brianne continues to work and grow her art more.
“It’s definitely inspiring to be around other artists, but being able to focus on my own work like this has been great.”
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