Walking in the Art Studio at Azule, you would never know mixed media & watercolor artists, Nancy Smith, Sarah Graham and Salena Hitzeman, had never collaborated prior to their residency. Gathered around one of many easels, Sarah & Salena discussed a collaborative piece done by Nancy & Sarah, while Nancy herself, chimed in from a nearby workbench. Both individually & as collaborations it was immediately clear these three had had a prolific week at Azule.

Nancy Smith & Sarah Graham met at a painting retreat prior to deciding to embark on a residency with Azule. Inspired by their very different styles, the two decided to try their hands at a collaboration. As Sarah puts it, “I realized just watching her (Nancy) that you know I think I could be very inspired by being around someone who does this, because I need to be braver in that way and its really worked that way. I think it will affect me going forward, I already feel it.” Trusting in Nancy’s prior experience as a resident at Azule, the two set out for a week of collaboration, not expecting to add a third to the mix.

Salena Hitzeman is just starting to explore what it is to be an artist in residence again after being a fulltime mother. While she didn’t come to Azule to collaborate necessarily, she fit right into the shared studio space. In addition to the large Eastern Coyote & Ironweed watercolors, Salena had the opportunity to work with both Sarah & Nancy on another collaboration.

Both individually and collaboratively the number of canvases that cover the studio work spaces is a testament to the productivity felt by these three, which according to Nancy is attributed at least in part to the place, “I love the peacefulness of it. No timetable, no structure, the setting is so inspiring “.

It’s like the very walls of Azule push one into a creative explosion as Sarah puts it, “we were talking this morning, there is so much creative energy here and I cant separate out, and I don’t know that its important, but how much is Camille and her heart and soul and how much of it is all artists that have come here and been here. It’s hard to know, but you can feel it. You just enter into this swirl.” As Salena added, “I purchased a fishing license, thinking I’d have time to fish, I don’t think that’s going to happen now!”, many are surprised with the energy that Azule imbues.

You can see more of these artists work on the Azule Instagram page, where we will link to each artists pages for you to follow their journey’s moving forward.