Hypatia Artist’s Residency, Part 2

Cyanotype on linen with Salmonberry

   During the summer of 2023, I did a 3-week residency in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. It was a solitary residency program where I was provided with a remarkable place to stay and work on my projects.   

   In my proposal, I stated that I wanted to explore the area and record my impressions with photos and other means. I was especially interested in the geography and the history of the indigenous people in this amazing place. 

   I spent a week traveling to other destinations in the Olympic Peninsula before arriving at my destination. I was met by my greeters in a nearby town, so I followed them to a remote location where I would spend the next three weeks. 

 The Lagoon, by April Sproule

   Once alone, I sat down to take stock of my surroundings. The beautiful cabin was nestled deep in a forest of enormous big leaf maples, Western redcedar, Western hemlock, and numerous other species. As the branches of the trees moved slowly up and down in the breeze from the Puget Sound, it looked like the trees were breathing. It had the most calming effect on me, and sometimes I'd sit for ages just watching the trees and listening to the birds so high up in the forest canopy I rarely ever saw them. 

Nature Journal, Western redcedar by April Sproule

   I’d never had an opportunity like this residency before, so my preparation for creating art projects based on this experience was total overkill. I packed so much more than I needed in the way of art supplies. The next time I do this, I will be much better prepared by taking a fraction of the “art stuff” with me. 

Drawing on the deck, by April Sproule, Hypatia in the Woods 

  My time was spent collecting items of interest, hiking in the woods, visiting the nearby lagoon daily, and visiting local museums. The rest of my time was spent working on my art. That included drawing and painting in my Nature Journal, creating a collection of cyanotypes from local plants, and working on my bigger project.  

Original maps used for Hypatia Project.   This is the beginning of my larger project. I started with a little drawing of an outline of the Olympic Peninsula. The list on the right side contains the names of the seven significant inlets of the southwestern area of the Puget Sound.

   Next I figured out how big the finished project would be: approximately 36" square.




Ravwn illustration by April Sproule   I was intrigued by the story of the Squaxin people's legend of the Raven and the Clamshell. So one of the first things I began working on when I returned home was drawing birds once again. It had been two years since I'd drawn any birds, so I had to retrace my steps to create three new raven illustrations to use in my art. One will be featured in my Hypatia piece.

   My take away from this remarkable life experience has been cathartic, to say the least. Months later, I am still processing what I saw and experienced during my residency. 

   As I continue working on my large piece, I am faced with many design challenges. But in the process, I am learning a lot that will be put to good use in the future. 

   The best part of all this was the remarkable people I met along the way. I want to thank all the board members and volunteers of the Hypatia in the Woods organization for making opportunities like this available to others. You are all having such a positive effect on the lives of so many people. I will try to do my part by paying your generosity forward.