Artist Residency: Day 5

I realized that today’s day 5 marks the halfway point in my in-studio artist residency. I’m glad that I’ve got a lot that I had planned out accomplished, and I still have much to go. While I was drinking my morning tea, when I briefly checked into the Internet, I realized that I was two days behind on publishing my blog posts, so I took a little bit of time to compose, edit and publish the blog posts for the most recent two days. Since I have had people following this artist residency progress, I want to be sure that I’m keeping all my work documented here in this blog.

I toned a third canvas, setting up a spare easel that had been folded up in a corner of my studio. This third canvas I toned using a pastel pink color. I began applying the first layer of paint daubs to the canvas in pastel pinks, lilac, yellow, orange and a mint green.


During my lunch break, I set up my living room to be a backdrop against which to take a few photos of art hanging in a living room. I should set up every room at some point to be the backdrop for a photo session, because that corner of my living room looks the neatest it’s been in a while. I will process the photos themselves tomorrow — I ran out of time before I had to get going to arrive at the art class that I’m teaching this summer to a children’s summer program.

Today’s art class encompassed using the pinch pot method of molding clay to make a small mug or bowl. Right after the class ended I had to take a quick trip to the store to get some more odorless mineral spirits, what I use for my paint thinner.

Upon returning, I used the photos of my artwork that I had processed from Monday’s photographing session of my paintings currently still in the studio to create images of examples of how my paintings would look hung in different spaces. These photos help to demonstrate how the colors and scale of the different paintings could appear in different setting, in different rooms. I took some time to show what the paintings could look like on the wall in a living room, or dining room, or kitchen.

I ended the day with painting more daubs on the pink toned canvas — ready to add more to it tomorrow (day 6)!



Artist Residency: Day 4

Day 4 of my in-studio artist residency started off mainly the same as some of the other days — waking up, having tea, reading, then starting in on painting at 7am. I have enjoyed starting this early, as I am the most productive during my painting blocks of 7am-Noon.

I’ve already got one canvas all painted and ready for small touch-ups. I thought, why not start a second canvas? I have one main big easel, and I have a second French easel in the other corner of my studio. I prepared a fresh 30″ x 40″ canvas, propped it up on the French easel, and began to tone the canvas with a pastel shade of purple, very lightly applying the paint.

IMG_1001When that was done, I returned to my main canvas for the yellow-green painting, and saw that the colors had moved south quite a bit overnight. To touch up the blending of the colors as they descended the canvas, I took a fan brush and applied a little more stand oil, very lightly, blending the colors in together so as to remove any hard lines or spots. Studying how the composition of the colors panned out, I directly applied a few paint spots, feathering in the color on stop and in the stand oil.

I worked mainly today on the purple-toned canvas. After toning the canvas, I applied paint daubs loosely with a large brush in hues of pastel whites, blues, lavenders and periwinkle and mint green. Over all these daubs I added even more white. I used a thick brush to later blend the colors into one another so that there wouldn’t a blank spot anywhere on the canvas. The intention of this next canvas is to reflect an impression of the colors of the New England winter experience.

After my lunch break, I lightly poured stand oil over all the wintery daubs of color, and then used a combination of palette knife and fan brush to run the colors together as I pulled the pigments down towards the bottom of the canvas. Like my other methods in this series, now it’s up to gravity and how the drips from the stand oil and pigment continue their journey of slipping slowly down the canvas surface.

IMG_1013 IMG_1015 IMG_1032

In the evening, I took a good chunk of time to go through and process all the photos that I had photographed of my artwork the day before. Lots of tea, cropping and adjusting levels and lighting later, I had finished processing the artwork photos so that they’re ready to be added in to update my website in the near future.



Artist Residency Day 3

IMG_0948Today was the first day of my artist residency of being fully in the studio without any interruptions — on the first day I had to run a program until noon, and then yesterday was an outdoor festival in which I had my art booth and painted live on site (read Day 2 post). So when I woke up this morning, I was beaming with excitement at the productive art-work day ahead!

After completing my morning tea, I neatened my studio and prepared for the photographer to come to my studio. I had made an appointment for a photo session for her to take photos of my studio of me painting-in-action.  I had realized that I can take all the best photos in the world of my own paintings, but I’m usually not in them. It struck me that this artist residency week would be the perfect time to check that goal off my task list. After clearing off spaces and shoving random un-photographic things into cupboards with closing doors, I was ready.

If you haven’t gotten yourself intentionally photographed while in the middle of doing something you love, give it a try sometime. It made me feel both self-conscious and like a movie-star at the same time. I couldn’t be happier with my photographer, Tiffany Axtmann Photography — she not only snapped well-lit and expertly composed photos, but she went above and beyond the important details, like letting me know that I needed to shift my body posture, or if a hair was out of place. I gave her the freedom to objects and furniture around things in my studio in order to get the best shots possible, and she took command of the session in a way that enabled me to be confident in my poses, smiles, and painting. I can’t wait to see how the photos turned out! (Don’t worry, you’ll get to see them on my Facebook Page once they’re ready and throughout my website as I update the images on my website.

IMG_0953Since I had just finished getting photographed, I thought it was only appropriate that I put my inventory of paintings through the same rigmarole. It’s been my goal (for awhile now) to take new photographs of my paintings to update my website — so I decided to carpe the diem and got out my camera. I hung a white curtain as a backdrop over a wire grid wall that I used for hanging finished works for display, and rotated the whole configuration so that it would face the two windows with the most diffused sunlight pouring in. This process of bringing all my paintings out of their shelves and portfolios felt akin to cleaning my room eons ago — where I found find paintings that I had forgotten were at the back of the shelves or the bottom of a forgotten portfolio. Rediscovering some of these past paintings brought back memories. Photographed all my paintings today — CHECK!

During the portrait photo session, completed a decent portion of the yellow-green painting that I had worked on while at the Hunts Mills Festival (see progress here), adding in light blues and grays into the upper quarter of the canvas. After taking a short break for lunch (and having to drop off my husband’s car at the mechanic for an oil change), I began the next phase of this painting — the part where I lose creative control of the outcome.

The “abstracted rain” series that I’m working on (see here,  here, and here for the process) involves painting daubs of oil paint all over the canvas, and then smearing the colors down the canvas with stand oil — and to a certain extent, the stand oil does what it wants. After I use a bristle brush to apply strong pressure to the canvas while dragging it and the stand oil down the canvas, I took a fan brush and lightly feather the “drips” up and down the canvas, to soften the edges, encourage other colors to blend that weren’t blending, and to ensure that the background canvas isn’t left exposed from a “hole” in the drips.

A few hours later, I was relatively pleased with the direction, viscosity and volume of the drip effect — now to leave it overnight and see how much further it migrates during the nighttime.


In this process photo, the left half of the painting has beens smeared with a combination of palette knife and fan brush. On the right side are the drips just from the initial application of stand oil.

To continue being productive but also dedicating time to the studio, in the evening after dinner (and sneaking in a quick episode of Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” on Netflix), my goal was to re-organize all my art and design digital file folders on my computer and make a backup. As a graphic designer, as well as a painter, I have backlogs of multiples of images files and digital folders that have experienced entropic decay since at least 2009. I took the next 4-5 hours to re-file, delete, and back-up all my art/design business digital files into a system that will now be much more efficient. This is especially good to have a new digital home for photos of the new paintings to have a place to live once I finish processing those images.

Then, it was late, and I realized that I need to get enough sleep in order to have energy to have as productive a day tomorrow as it had been today!



Artist Residency: Day 2

Today I took my artist residency outdoors, to the Hunts Mills Festival in East Providence. The early morning involved selecting what to bring to the festival, packing my vehicle, and running back into the studio multiple times to get things I had almost forgotten before leaving at 8:30am.


Phase 1: Tone the canvas with underlying color

Arriving, I found my assigned 10’x10′ plot (booth #11, in fact), and set up my pop-up tent, table, Graphic Display Systems grid wall, and two plain air easels. The official festival itself wasn’t advertised as open to the public until noon, so I got an set myself up for painting the next canvas in my “Abstracted Rain” series that I’m focused on during my artist residency. I had toned the canvas yellow the night before, and so I went straight to work mixing the colors on my palette and applying thick daubs of paint in various yellow and green hues all over the canvas.

Once the festival officially opened, there was a fairly steady stream of people walking by the booth — many would pause and watch as I painted live. I think I need to make a screen printed shirt that says, “Artist At Work — You’re invited to come closer, you’re not bothering me, I promise.” There were many people that in the corner of my eye, I could tell that they wanted to come into the booth, or talk to me about the painting, then when I said, “Hello,” they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you.” Please bother me to ask me about my art — that’s what I’m here for! I thought to myself (maybe that should be what I screen print on the back of my painting shirt!)


Phase 2: Apply paint daubs in yellows and greens 

Throughout the day, I enjoyed interacting with people that asked about the “free art” that I had invited them to receive in the mail from me. People were invited to take any of the cards that made up the painting that I had prepped yesterday, put their name and mailing address on the back, and then I would finish the painting with additional embellishments, and they would receive surprise piece of this art in the mail in 2-3 weeks! All the art in this fun project was offered 100% free, unless they wanted me to take care of framing it for them for $10 (which a few did!) I did this project as a fun way to engage people to think about art, and to bring some delight to a mailbox that is already full of bills and junk mail.


One of the highlights of my day at the festival was interacting with a couple from Seekonk. As I explained the “free art in your mailbox” idea and as she selected which piece she wanted, I noticed the husband looking intently two particular paintings. He asked a couple of questions, and after some conversation, he ended up buying the painting! Both he and she were a delight to talk to, and I look forward to meeting up with them again when their free art is ready for delivery.


Phase 3: The painting at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but invigorated. It had been a good day, and the first outdoor festival in which I had participated in a few years. After unpacking the car, and putting things back in order in my studio (I have a photo session the next day!) I put up my feet, and relaxed the rest of the evening with watching some Bob Ross on Netflix.


Artist Residency: Day 1

Today I began my 10 day in-studio artist residency. The goal of these 10 days of dedication in my art studio without distraction is to produce 3-5 paintings, and to take care of some other tasks I need to dedicate time for my art business.

My first act in my artist residency, after cleaning the studio was to make a cup of tea — some of my most artistically inspired moments came after contemplating over a cup of tea. Then I got to work on finishing painting the edges of the commissioned painting that had just recently been revealed to its recipient (read more here about the story & the big reveal!) I deconstructed the special framing I had improvised for putting both panels of a diptych on the same easel and separated them for the first time since birth — since diptychs are, in many ways, like conjoined fraternal twins.

AIMG_0917fter completing the edges (which took about an hour more time than I had planned), I moved onto setting up my new guerrilla painter pochade paintbox. At an art event tomorrow I will be trying it out for the first time when painting plain air, so I wanted to give it a test run in the studio first to ensure that all the parts would fit together properly (they originally sent me two left-side panels, so the box wouldn’t close until they sent the right part). I began a multi-part painting that is going to be an interactive piece with the public tomorrow at the outdoor festival at which I’ll be hosting a booth of my art.

In preparation for starting my first 30″x40″ “abstracted rain” series painting,  took the plastic off the canvas and mounted it to my French easel in the corner of my studio — it’s a lot larger on that particular easel than other canvases I typically use. I toned the canvas using a bright and warm shade of yellow. Tomorrow I will begin placing the paint daubs of the rain colors while I’m in my art booth from 8am to 5pm.

Overall, it was a productive start to what I am hoping to be a productive artist residency.

Artist residency begins! 

I’ve blocked out my work plan for my in-studio residency over the next 9-10 days. I’ve got a lot to accomplish — time to get to work!

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Rachel Brask given Founders Award by Art League Rhode Island


I was honored and humbled to be recognized by Art League Rhode Island at its Annual Meeting with the 2016 Founder’s Award for exemplary volunteer service in recognition of my role on the #communications committee as project manager & webmaster for the Art League’s new website. Thank you, ArtLeagueRI for this award — I aim to live up to this level of service in future years ahead.


About Art League Rhode Island:
The Art League of Rhode Island (ALRI) was formed based on a shared vision to encourage and foster artistic recognition and growth among Rhode Island Artists. ALRI was incorporated with a goal to contribute, encourage, and promote integrity and excellence in the arts in Rhode Island. The Art League of Rhode Island numbers among its founding members some of Rhode Island’s most prominent artists working in a wide range of media from painting to furniture making.



Artist Residency

I’m preparing for an intensive 10 day artist residency from June 26-July 4, 2016. I plan to use this to devote 10 full-time days of working through the beginning few painting of my new “Abstracted Rain” series. I’m looking forward to this time of undivided time and attention to put towards this exciting new series. As a practicing artist, it can be all to easy to have my spare (and un-spare) time divided by the need to take care of what seems like a million obligations, deadlines, paperwork, documents, organizing, and social media.

I find that I’m most productive when I have unplugged from my cellular devices, have a freshly brewed mug of tea in hand, and have thoughtfully pre-planned how I anticipate I will break up my time. Giving thought in advance to what my goals are to be achieved during any specific period of time is always more productive than going through busy-work without an end-vision in mind. So for this ten-day period of artist residency, my goal is to develop four 30″x40″ paintings and a series of color and texture studies for the rest that I anticipate will follow in the series.

During my residency, I will only log onto my internet-capable computer only two times each day, and only for 20 minutes each — setting a timer.

I believe that this limitation will keep me from the endless black hole of social media posts and email to reply to. I will begin each studio work day at 7am, and I will end each studio work day at 9:30pm, concluding with a very brief blog entry detailing my highlights, struggles, and some details from the work that day.

If you would like to follow me on this adventure, please sign up for my email newsletter here (if you have not done so already). I will send an update with links to the blog posts within a week of finishing the artist residency.

A special thanks to my husband for his support of me and my art as I stretch to push myself to reach higher goals to achieve in the journey of my art career. I could not do this without his unending love and support.

Follow me in this next step in my ongoing art journey!