Fall Still Life: adding details and finishing: art lessons during a pandemic

Looking back on my painting progress and process, by early December, the pumpkin had rotted and was put out for the squirrels. The flowers were dead and brittle. The gourd was hanging in there pretty well, but I was frustrated. And cold. Very cold.

I was now working from a combination of a large printout of an old photograph, an iPad on a stand displaying the photograph of the still life as it originally was, and the sad remnants of the still life on the table. I was also a little tired of the whole thing after two months. Plus, with the Pandemic raging around us, I was masked, glasses fogging up, bundled up in layers, and leaving the studio doors open because three of us were working in the shared studio. We kept our distance, trying to converse through muffling masks across the space and hands frozen in medical gloves because we shared some brushes and paints. Well, this was an art class unlike any other in the past and I’m sure we will look back on it and be amazed.

Fall still life in progress, acrylics
Fall Still life in progress, acrylics

This was my first acrylic painting aside from a couple quick studies last fall. I plan to keep going with this medium in 2021.

Fall still life in progress, acrylics
Fall Still life in progress, acrylics, week after week progress

When I finished the painting, I disassembled the still life I had been studying for weeks. The gourd went out for the squirrels. The dead flowers were thrown out. The vase washed and put away. The battered silver tray returned to my kitchen to hold a bottle of hand soap and sanitizer. I folded the red flannel drape for future use in my studio. I’m ready to gaze at a new still life.

I finally finished my painting in the week before the Christmas break in our classes. I learned a lot. I could not have done this without the excellent and patient instruction from my wonderful teacher. Teachers rock! Happy New Year!

Fall still life
Fall Still Life, acrylics…finished!
Artist masked for pandemic
Artist at work during pandemic

Storing your art

After you finish your work of art, you have to make some finishing touches. Just Google any of these phrases and you will see that artists think about these issues a lot. Before you see a work of art displayed in a gallery or on a website or in someone’s home, all these things should have happened:

Don’t forget to sign your work (search for ‘artist signature’ posts on the web)

(Seriously it’s easy to forget to do this!)

Don’t forget to use fixative, varnish or other preservative appropriate to the medium

Did you photograph it for your website or records?

Store it somewhere safe until you frame it for exhibit or sale

Storing your art

I am at the ‘store it somewhere safe’ step. The photo collage shows that I have safely ‘stored’ and (Bonus at No Extra Cost to me !) displayed, my two latest charcoal sketches by thumbtacking them to the walls of my studio space. One small pastel still sits on a tabletop easel taunting me: are you done or not? And my biggest recent work, a pastel of Verona, Italy, is clipped to a drawing board, covered with glassine and resting on top of the old wardrobe filled with crafts supplies. That’s me with my iPad snapping the pic of the resting pastel. The wardrobe itself is decorated with oil pastels, paper collage and acrylic sketches, so that’s another way to find storage space for your artistic efforts. Just paint on your furniture.

So anyway, to my friends and family who are super supportive and kind about my late-blooming artistic journey, this is what’s going on. It seems like a long way to get these works framed, exhibited, sold, gifted, turned into cards or pillows or even a proper website. But I am learning a lot and slowly producing work. And enjoying the process. And liking some of the results enough to thumbtack them to the walls without cringing or climbing up to change one more little detail. Progress!

Studio Views

I spend too much time bemoaning the mess that is my studio space. A cluttered studio is a convenient excuse for procrastinating. Cleaning out the studio definitely means you find art supplies, projects, and old work you forgot about. Putting the stuff back in new places guarantees you will never find them again. Having a Pinterest board of aspirational studio spaces is a time sink that rarely leads to actual studio upgrades. But the worst thing is having no studio space at all. So my little corner of one room with my pre-historic drafting table, jars of brushes and pens on a lazy Susan my son made in shop in middle school, and natural light from a south-facing window is better than using one end of the dining room table, for example. Even the smallest space allows you to leave your work out without putting it away when its time to eat. It’s nice to dream about a beautiful, spacious studio that would magically call to me, maybe with a magic force field that would pick the right music, have the right pen fly into my hand, and empty my monkey mind of everything other than a happy focus on the next work of art. But the real magic is mostly just sitting in that pink chair, put a piece of paper on the table, pick up a pencil, and just start.

Drafting table with still life

Cleaning out my studio space

Daylilies and chaos cleanup