A Recap of My Art Residency at “The Artist Life”

I packed up a few art supplies, several sizes of canvas, and set up shop to use a shipping container as my art studio for a week. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to create that week in terms of finished paintings, or if I’d just to aim for more exploratory color compositions and sketches for later use. I looked forward to meeting the other artists and to working with artist and curator Nick Paciorek during the residency stay.

I hadn’t painted at an art residency since 2019, before covid and before the traumatic ordeals with my father’s and father-in-law’s deaths. Since January 2022, I had begun painting again after taking time off from all that, and I was painting fairly productively out of my studio again. When I heard about “The Artist Life” experience at the Pitcher-Goff House, I thought it would be just what I needed to work in another space for a change of scenery, and to hopefully open me up to some new ideas or new approaches to my work.

When I arrived, I was assigned a shipping container to work in. The shipping container studio included electricity, lights, studio easel and plein air easel, a large storage cabinet, and a table. One end of the container doors opened completely to provide light and fresh air, and a really amazing view over the hill and into the downtown below. An additional sliding glass door installed in the shipping container provided more than enough light and airflow. Since I was there in late April, the weather was perfect (for me), in not still being too cold or too warm. Later in the week the wind kicked up and the temperatures dropped a little, so I turned on the provided space heater to keep the space cozy and warm while painting. There are four shipping containers arranged around a central courtyard area with patio chairs and tables, all oriented to take in the view.

One of the features of any art residency is the ability to work with and bounce ideas off the other artists. Upon checking in with Nick, I discovered there were two last-minute cancellations, making this a solo experience for me. That actually worked out as a perfect way to ease back into my art residency flow, and it ended up opening the way for me to have a much more personally tailored art residency experience.

It was really refreshing to be encouraged to create without any worries of making a mess on the floor or walls. I had planned on bringing a drop cloth with me, but Nick said not to worry about it. In my home studio, space is much tighter and I’m more aware of attempting to keep paint off the floor and walls.


I began Day 1 with painting a small composition inspired from a spring kayak trip in pond the day before, with lots of greens, aqua, and earth colors. I brought several sizes of canvas, but started small as a warm-up before hopping to larger canvases. By the last day of the residency, I had painted on a 24″x48″ canvas for the first time in two years!


For the start of Day 2, I worked on a new painting inspired by the colors and composition of the newly-greening buds just barely visible on the tips of the trees within view from the end of the shipping container, contrasted with a blue and cloudy sky. I worked on both paintings simultaneously at different phases, applying dots and daubs to one while adapting and editing the drips and raindrops of the painting’s application the day before.

Between painting sessions, Nick and I took breaks to chat about the broad range of topics related to a working artist life over coffee and lunch: testing markets, work/life/art balance, shipping, art shows, and even how grief and mourning affects an artist’s process. We talked over our inspirations and challenges, and Nick took a genuine interest in getting to know the ins and outs of my rainy oil painting technique, asking critical questions on if I had tried using a particular tool, substrate, or subtle change in how I moved my paintbrush. All week he asked great questions that challenged me about how I approached or thought about my “Abstracted Rainy Moments” body of oil paintings.

View of the courtyard during a coffee break, with one of my favorite creative mugs by Lisa York Pottery


In the morning of the third day, the sky was an interesting combination of being both cloudy and also being very blue and clear at times, so following the inspiration, I created a 18×24 painting examining just the clouds and sky, and anticipating how my rain technique, when applied, would affect the painting outcome.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nick challenged me to take one of his own oil paintings, with his distinctive color palette and the composition of a city scene, and to apply my rain drip technique to it! At first, I thought he was kidding, but he was completely serious. I have never been invited to touch up another artist’s painting with my own paintbrush, let alone a world-class international artist inviting me to apply my own technique to the whole painting. It was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. What if I messed up his painting?!

After overcoming the fear and trepidation of messing up his composition, I moved forward with generously applying stand oil, and using my paintbrush to drag color drips down from the top down to the bottom using pressure and a vertical motion. While I was in the beginning phases of using a blending brush to feather and edit the drips into one another, Nick entered my studio and mixed some stand oil with pigment. When I turned away from the canvas to clean my brush, Nick leaned into the canvas and began applying more globs of pigmented stand oil in bold strokes on the dripping canvas in a wet-on-wet technique. This is not my usual modus operandi! So as soon as he paused to clean his brush and mix colors, I frantically started trying to blend the new blobs of color into the overall rainy texture of the painting, holding my breath most of the time. What ensued after that was a dance in which each of us would alternate in pivoting back to the canvas and making or editing marks in the paint. I truly had no idea which blobs he’d add where on the canvas, so I was really shaken out of attempting any control whatsoever of this painting, so I just went with the flow by responding intuitively with where I edited the paint next. An embedded video Reel below shows a fraction of the transformation.

The result was a beautiful dripping rain-looking painting but with a much more abstract, urban contemporary feel. I worked the rest of that afternoon on editing, shifting, and modifying the drips of that painting. Since there was way more extra stand oil on the paintings, the drips shifted much more quickly than my standard rain-painting process, and the majority of the rest of the day was my constant battle of painting the rapidly-moving paint drips upwards against gravity, while blending and adapting the painting. You can see just how much the painting changed and shifted from its original in the before/after slider image below:

Click and drag the slider back and forth to compare the before & after


In the morning of the fourth day, I spent most of it continuing to paint and edit drips and surface texture of the three paintings I had created yesterday, and in the days before. Despite tilting my easel on an obtuse angle to slow the overnight drip progress of the collaborative painting, there was still significant changes to the imagery and texture.

After lunch, Nick showed me a color exercise which which now I can’t not think about Essentially, over several rounds of selection, I had to narrow down color swatch cards from 100 down to 20, then down to 15, down to 10, down to 5, then 3. Then choose the ONE color I would want to be stranded on an island with for my remaining days, as he dramatically phrased it. Then I was to pair this final color with its opposite swatch until I could sense the “color vibration” on my eye’s cornea.

These final two colors, and a third, completed the “color world in which I live.” Essentially these are the colors I’m drawn to in life, in my paint palette, what I wear and choos. Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised to know that my number one color ended up being a shade of an emerald/aqua/turquoise/blue-green, and its opposite was a very warm red-orange; my third color was a warm purple. These three colors actually were featured as my wedding colors over a decade ago!

In discussing colors for color’s sake again, I challenged myself instead to abandon the landscape-rain trail I had been taking earlier in the week, and instead went non-objective abstract again with full abandon, but still with the rain/drip element that has become my signature style. I created a very simple grid concept using these three colors to see how it would look when each color dripped into the next color as part of the rain. The results were quite exciting and I found it intriguing, looking to observe which small sections of the painting included elements where the colors caused cornea vibrations when adjacent to one another.

At the end of the day, I was treated to the panoramic views from the rooftop of the Pitcher-Goff House, a 360 degree view of Pawtucket and into Providence. In addition to the color exploration painting, I continued to use Day 4 to still continue to modify and edit the drips of the collaborative painting that Nick and I had worked on the day prior. Because it was still really wet, the colors and textures continued to drip significantly.


Day 5 was to be my last day. I felt like I was just finally warming up and opening up to broader possibilities! My focus for today’s painting was continuing to stay in the mindspace and motivation of continuing this abstract streak. In discussion with Nick, I chose to continue to ride the wave of abstract and color. My idea for the biggest canvas was to do a sheer color exploration of the second-tier hues discovered from the color exercise (which were essentially related to my top 3 chosen ones).

Instead of making thousands of tiny dots as is usually my custom in starting these pointilism-turn-rain paintings, I use large brush strokes of white paint, diagonally across the canvas. Then on the opposite diagonal, I made long and short dash strokes of thick paint of some third-tier colors: a mint green, a darker red-orange, a cerulean blue, coupled with my original three colors of warm purple, turquoise and red-orange. When each stroke crossed paths with white, the color shifted lightly. I applied my stand oil and rain technique and sat back to watch what would happen. I even challenged Nick to try out the rain technique I’ve used, so he tried it himself to my painting for a couple of strokes.

My idea for these next experimental painting is to let the first stand-oil/paint layer dry (I left a few blank areas in order to allow transparency through the next layer) and then to paint another stand oil /paint layer over this one after it’s dried and see how the layers contribute to the feeling of depth in the space of the painting.

With some paint finally on the last canvas on the last day, I felt accomplished but also bittersweet that this brief residency experience was coming to an end. Working with Nick Paciorek during “The Artist Life” residency helped me to push some creative limits of my artwork, and to consider and experiment with new ideas, concepts and approaches, all still tailored directly to my own style and essential subject matter of artwork. Throughout the residency, I made a list of the many different things I want to try in a future pursuit of continuing to evolve my oil paintings of rain. Now the big question is: should I get started right away on trying this new direction, or let it simmer awhile?

5 Reasons Why Rachel’s Rainy Art Umbrellas are a Must-Have for Spring

Recently Rachel Brask launched limited-time preorders of umbrellas (until 4/14/22) featuring her artwork printed with colorful designs from her collection of oil paintings about rainy days. So here are a few reasons why these umbrellas are so awesome.

  1. Day Brightener:
    Umbrellas with the colorful designs of Rachel’s Rainy Days brightens up a typically gray rainy day when out and about and in use. The 42-inch canopy is wide enough to provide sufficient rain protection and to show off your sense of style and color. 
  2. Conversation Starter:
    These colorful umbrellas become a conversation starter – on the sidewalk, in line, at the bus stop, at the family soccer game that should have been canceled because of rain but wasn’t…yeah, you know the one we’re talking about. You’ll be the envy of every soccer parent because your Rachel’s Rainy Days Umbrella will stand out as the one person who remembered to bring rain cover.
  3. Sunburn Protection:
    These umbrellas don’t just have to be used for rainy days – bring one to the park or to the beach on a particularly sunny day (especially if you get sunburned quite as easily or as intensely as the artist does). The bright sun will illuminate the colors of the artwork, making them appear even brighter than they already are. 
  4. Convenience:
    These umbrellas feature a quick-open button to get you dry from the rain quickly. A wrist loop to keep your umbrella nearby in case it rains while you’re out getting your coffee. And they have a handy closing strap, so when the passing storm yields to blue skies, you can just wrap it and snap it, and take your umbrella with you. 
  5. Supporting a Local Artist:
    These designs are an extension of the artwork of painter Rachel Brask. By pre-ordering one or more, you are helping to support a local artists and a small business. Your investments in the artist will be appreciated for years to come, and will also give you exclusive access to special art studio events, programs, and sneak peeks of new artwork.

If you’ve been looking for a stylish way of keeping dry for spring showers, click here to browse 18 designs of Rachel’s Rain Art Umbrellas, open only for pre-orders until April 14, 2022.

3 Things Today Reminded Me Why I Love What I Do as an Artist

I recently experienced a day in my working artist’s life that was just so simply wonderful and fulfilling that it reminded me why I love what I do, enough to keep on doing it despite hard days, so I thought I’d share here.

Wednesdays are usually the most jam packed part of my week, some days dashing from teaching one art class in one state, then quickly hopping the border again to teach a private art lesson in another state (mind you, we only live a stone’s throw from the border). Between that are various meetings, virtual and in-person or on the phone, researching connections and following up leads for the business of being in the art industry.

All in one day I got to: 1) start a collaboration with an artist, 2) teach kids art lessons, and 3) share my passion for working with clients on painting commissions.

I started by meeting with a fellow artist for tea at my studio, and discuss a collaboration we’re both very excited about (more info to come about that at a later time!). Her ceramic work and my rain paintings could easily have a conversation across the room together, and it was so refreshing and restorative to chat with another artist friend and brainstorm ideas for our collaborative exhibition. We discussed how we can plan our respective artworks to respond to artworks by the other artist, sharing our stories and touch points behind our work. We have loosely mentioned in passing, “we should exhibit together sometime,” but to actually get it the ball rolling on it was motivating! I left the meeting hopeful, inspired, and honored to be able to work with this other artist on this project. Having this collaboration conversation started gives me some goals to work towards already for next year.

After that, I met a friend for lunch at a local joint that also happens to have my paintings on the wall. It was nice to catch up and laugh and reconnect after the stresses and chaos of the holidays and more.

In the afternoon, I teach private art lessons after school for a 3rd grader, followed by private art lessons with an 8th grader. I’m always amazed at the wonder and high energy level of the 3rd grader, who is super exuberant and engaged with every single art class we have. If there was an Energizer Bunny of art students, this is the one — I wish I had her energy level sometimes! With my 8th grade art student, our art lesson vibes are much calmer but more in-depth. I was super proud of my 8th grade student this week as we worked to help prepare her portfolio for application to a high school with a strong arts-focused program, talking over concepts and strategies for expressing a cohesive message in her art, in addition to showing skill in the portfolio samples. Seeing her light up when talking about how important art is to her life reminded me of why I love teaching art with kids and teens gearing up for their artistic futures (Edit: I later found out she got accepted to the program! Proud art teacher moment! 🙂 )

After these art lessons, I tidied up my studio for a Zoom chat with a couple who were interested in commissioning a painting, after seeing similar paintings of mine hanging in their local coffee shop. Our video chat went really well. I was so excited to hear this couple share stories about the meaning, memories, and feelings that they had tied to a particular location they wanted me to paint– where they had hiked up a very challenging ascent and took in the extraordinary view from the summit. I get very passionate about painting commissions — they’re one of my favorite aspect of the myriad of art-related things I do. I get animated when talking over painting commissions because they enable me to channel the commissioner’s love of their subject and bring that vision to the canvas through paint, and in my signature style incorporating rainy days.

This is an example of a commissioned rainy triptych painting I did for a family.

At the end of the workday day, I closed my day planner of completed checkmarks, switched off the light to my art studio, and turned in for the night feeling inspired, highly motivated, and fulfilled. There are many, many days when I wonder, “Why am I even bothering to make my art my profession?” There are days of failure and rejection. But THIS day was a reminder of all the things I love to do as part of my job: collaborate and connect with other artists, teach and inspire young people to pursue art, and to talk with folks who want to commission a painting and the excitement of anticipating bringing that vision to life on canvas.

People ask me why bother being a professional artist. Days like today provide the spark I need to remind me of why I love my job being an artist.

Thinking on Hearts Lately

I create paintings of rainy days — essentially skies, land, and water scapes. If you can imagine a landscape, I can imagine that same landscape as a rainy vision on canvas.

This February, I was out for a walk in the woods nearby my studio. I usually walk on most days, but this one was pretty cold and I almost slipped on ice a handful of times. Normally when I’m out on my walk, that’s the time when I get to clear my head before tackling any of the day’s painting production, marketing tasks, communications, or any other general business obligations for the work day.

I’ve been thinking about the heart a lot lately. January 31st was National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, and I’ve probably been rolling in that thought process ever since. As I was walking a tiny thought popped into my head — what if I used the simple form of a heart as the inspiration for a rainy-method painting? My mind brought up two very specific compositions, which I hastily sketched out when I returned home from my stroll.

The first was a simple pink heart, light pink, floating in a field of dark purple, lighter purple at the top of the background grading into a dark red-purple at the bottom. The second was almost the inverse of the first sketch, a deep purple colored heart floating in a realm of light pink descending into red, each heart with a slight shadow under the bottom point of its heart. Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, so I thought, why not have some fun trying something different?

I aimed to keep the shapes simple as I applied a plethora of very thick daubs of paint all over the canvases. Lately, Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ve assigned as my designated painting days. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will start a rain painting. I don’t aim to “finish” a painting on either of these days, as my rain paint process dictates when a painting is “done” only after several days. I started the pink heart on Tuesday, the purple heart I started on Thursday.

I have been working on smaller canvases since restarting my art in January, after just about a year-long absence from the studio. In order to warm up to painting again, I’m choosing small canvases 8×10 and 12×16 inches to create and feel achievable without being overwhelming, and I’m gradually moving up into larger and larger canvases, until I get back to my “show pony” gallery exhibition size of 30×40 inches.

To say I was putting my heart into these two heart paintings would be a bit a little too literal, but it also wouldn’t be too far from the truth. After an intense couple of years in which my heart was broken or mourning from pain, grief and loss, just to paint something like a happy, healthy, brightly-colored heart was a measure of progress in itself. I was even worried that people might think my painting a heart would be too tacky, corny, or off-putting from my usual nature-inspired rainy landscapes.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well received these two little “heartspiration” paintings were by friends, family, and social followers of my artwork. When they were finished, the first painting was a prize for a fun giveaway, and the second went to a spontaneous decision to whomever had the best offer out of the first three to bid on it. I’ve never actually done that specifically with my paintings before, but it was a fun exercise in just letting go of my hearts and having some fun in connecting with people. The hearts were more popular than I had anticipated, because I had to evaluate them at first by timestamp because the offers came in at the same time!

In conclusion, this February has been a small exercise in putting my art “heart” back out into the world, to be open to new things, be vulnerable, be hopeful, and embrace light and the goodness of people.

National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day 2022

January 31st is National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day! This day is to ponder how art affects our hearts, our souls. I encourage you to think of a time, past or present, when a form of art really, genuinely moved you.

This photo is from a moment I still recall, while visiting Monet’s Waterlilies at the MoMA in NYC. It was the middle of summer, I had been running all over the city’s art museums, trying to take in as much as I could on a single day trip. I was sweaty and exhausted, probably a little dehydrated.

When I walked into the room containing Water Lilies, I wasn’t ready for it. I believe I had just walked out of the very visually exciting Abstract Expressionism exhibit, and thru some glass doors, which I held for the person after me without really paying attention to where I was walking.

When I looked up to see the Water Lillies, everything else literally just seemed to fade away. Immediately a tingly sensation of calm totally relaxed me, and I was just overwhelmed with the stunning beauty of it all. Tears formed and dripped down my cheek, not sadness, but just moved, overwhelmed and in awe. It was beautiful, and unexpected, and a visceral sensory relief after the day I’d had.

I’ve taught art lessons using a Monet and his Water Lilies as examples from books and digital images, but I had never experienced it in person before that moment. I finally got to see his brushstrokes and textures up close; and to see how luminous the colors all are. Standing in the middle, I was somewhat immersed in them, because the panels are displayed in a circular manner. It was truly art that inspired my heart. I went back again later, just before the museum closed, and got to sit alone with just the Water Lillies and me, and it was the most tranquil and beautiful moments of that trip.

What is an artful experience that you’ve had that moved your heart? A painting, performance, book, film, music, poem, song, photo, sculpture, drawing, culinary creation? I’d love if you’d share it it in the comments!

With 2021 now behind us, reviewing my Top Nines

My Art Top 9 of 2021

Photos each have a Photo Number (not ranked in any particular order) for reference within the text of this post


Reviewing my studio’s Top 9 of 2021, there are a few art items that come to the forefront. I can’t look back on 2021 without acknowledging both firstly and secondly, that the deaths of my fathers (my dad and my father-in-law, photos 7 and 9) impacted my personal and art life throughout the year, as I grieved, adjusted, started over, grieved again, adjusted again, and attempted to start over again. You may notice a slight shift coming in my work as I get going again. The one and only painting that I managed to eek out in 2021 was a raw expression of where I was at that point (Photo 8), a canvas of black, dark purple and a tiny flash of white– feeling nothing but darkness and sadness closing in like a cocoon around a tiny flame of hope I held closely, trying to protect it from getting snuffed out. 

There were some high notes at random intervals in 2021. My joint exhibition, “Collective Environments” at Hygienic Art (Photo1) was a great way to get back into the swing of exhibiting again after months off. I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled to receive the 2nd place AWARD at Portsmouth Arts Guild’s “Imagine Water” (photo 5). It was an exhibit I just decided to submit to at the last minute, spontaneously, and then found out a couple days later I won an award in the show! I still love how the Guild gave paper gold crowns to all award winners — it was a fun and playful touch at a time when sometimes art exhibitions can take themselves too seriously.

I was also the juror for Heartspot’s “Light at the End of the Tunnel” exhibition in the spring — which not only was a fabulous exhibit for which to review submissions, demonstrating a very creative range in artistic interpretations, but it held personal significance –as all this year I had been looking and striving for some sort of light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. I think many of us all had, and why this exhibit was particularly resonant for the times. It was an honor to jury it and see how it all came together on the gallery walls (Photo 2). Another highlight for 2021 was exhibiting my artwork in contrast to the walls of my favorite gourmet waffle restaurant, The Burgundian (Photo 3).

As I was about to wrap up the year and write it off as a mediocre art year at best, I flipped a two sided coin, one last good thing and one last not-so good thing for the year. I discovered a leak in my art studio! (Photo 6) This affected a large area of the floor that had become soaked. I had to scramble to move a bunch of furniture, canvases, and supplies that were near or in the waterlogged area — including a number of rolled up old works on paper that were unfortunately ruined. All this just as we were preparing our house to host family for the holidays! I didn’t even post about it on my Instagram because I was just so overwhelmed by trying to dry out and dehumidify everything and take stock of what had to be thrown out. It was really deflating and ill-timed ordeal. 

On the other side of that coin was that I was able to finish off my art year with one last positive thing — one last hail-mary purchase of an original painting to ship in time as a Christmas gift. It was a pleasure and an honor to pack up this painting (Photo 4) and cross my fingers that it would arrive as a surprise to the buyer’s wife as a Christmas gift.


My Top 9 of 2021 – personal

Personally, 2021 while a year of mourning, pain, and transition, was also a year with marked celebration, joy, and personal growth. In 2021, I got to meet my sister’s beautiful new baby girl (Photo 16), my niece with whom I now share a birth month. I got to make giggling memories with my toddler nephew (Photo 18). My husband and I celebrated a full decade of marriage with a spring getaway for our anniversary (Photo 12). “Contractor fatigue” also marked our year, as I managed contractor issues for a few home projects (Photo 15) that our fathers had earlier pointed out needed to be done soon, in that familiar way that fathers do. So we wanted to honor that voice of our fathers by trying to get some of those home projects accomplished.

I celebrated the bountiful harvests of a good garden year (Photo 13), inspired by the garden boxes that my own father had crafted (Photo 10) just months before his cancer diagnosis. In 2021, I found solace in simpler things like gardening and filling up my birdfeeders (Photo 11) so I could watch birds as I sipped tea on the porch in the mornings. 

2021 was a year where I became more aware and protective of my physical and mental health more than ever. I kept a consistent kickboxing habit (Photo 14), working out consistently 3-4 times weekly even in the midst of chaos, helping with improved muscle strength, confidence, and managing increasing stress. Walking in the woods daily helped clear my mind and keep my body moving. 

Fun fact: I tried kayaking for the very first time ever in 2021 — and I loved it! (Photo 17) I want to go kayaking again and get better at it. My social media is now filled with ads for kayaks and kayaking supplies (I’d love to find a nice compact or portable kayak — send suggestions my way if you have any recommendations for one, or any general kayaking tips or favorite locations for kayaking!). 

I couldn’t just finish out 2021 without mentioning the coronavirus (no photo needed). Regardless of your views or stances on all the various aspects of the pandemic, it has definitely impacted the year in a big way, once again. So, just as I was about to wrap up the year, and looking forward to starting the new year with a clean studio, a fresh slate, and renewed energy and hope, I tested positive for covid. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and I definitely despaired a bit on how it was going to impact my physical and mental perspectives entering 2022. So, after resting, recovering, and finishing up required quarantines, I’m finally just starting my version of a New Year’s start to 2022. It’s a delayed start, sure. But I’d rather take delayed starts over never starting. 

My first two paintings of 2022! (photo and artwork by Rachel Brask)

So to start off 2022, I’ve gotten back in the studio, and in my first week back I’ve created not just one, but TWO oil paintings! I’m choosing hope that having a day planner will have meaning again, so I’m using one geared specifically for artists and makers — and I’ve enjoyed writing down goals and projects again. Actually being hopeful for a new year, new paintings, and opportunities feels new again. Like my soul was frozen for awhile, and now I’m just beginning to thaw out again. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and flexibility in following my journey up to 2021, and thank you for sticking with it as we see what 2022 holds!

~ ~ ~

New Painting: Black and Purple Rainy Canvas

In April 2021, I decided I would resume my art practice. I hadn’t painted a thing since my father’s cancer diagnosis and experiencing the mourning of his eventual death. It had been a hard year. In April, I picked up my paintbrush again, almost reluctantly, but necessarily.

During his care, I didnt have any desire to paint, only to take care of him to the best of my ability and spend as much time with him as I could, as we could as a family. After his death, my grief snatched my paintbrush from me, and anytime I even so much as walked into my studio, I would be reminded of my father.

When I finally did start to paint again on my first painting, it was a little more difficult than I expected. Not just like learning to ride a bike again, where muscle memory takes over, but learning to ride a bike with square wheels – not going anywhere very fast, even if going through the motions. To loosen up, when I taught one of my adult art students, we did a collaborative painting exercise, in which we would each make paint marks on individual canvases, abstract, and then switch canvases after every 4 minutes and do it again. The quick mark making and timed sessions helped to break down some of my hesitancy to even work with paint again, and it filled my studio with the smells of active oil painting again. This helped.

Over several weeks in March 2021, I kept having a recurring image stuck in my mind, an idea for a painting for when I returned to painting. It was of a canvas transitioning from black at the top evenly to a cool purple at the bottom, in the rainy style, but with a burst of white at the bottom right quarter of the canvas. I couldn’t specify exactly at the time what the image was, but I feel like the darker colors may have been influenced some by the sadness and grief I had been experiencing vividly every day.

So, I chose four colors – ivory black, dioxazine purple, cobalt violet, and white. Keeping my palette simple and my concept simple, I dipped my brush to canvas, and placed thick daubs of paint throughout the canvas, and the image in my head vaguely emerged, final so I could confront it visually and face it. The colors surprised me by how collectively dark they were, as I’m usually a bright-and-saturated-happy colors kind of person. But I allowed my brush to move. I cannot say that there weren’t a few quiet tears that emerged as I painted, it’s just become normal now any time I take a step forwards again.

The emerging image eventually had the feel of a cloudy, almost haunting, cloudy full-moon night over some purple mountains. I didn’t hesitate to use big gobs of black paint, as I no longer will shy away from using straight out black paint, which I had intentionally avoided using in past painting years.

Once the canvas was covered, it was time for me to employ my signature “rain” paintbrush application and smearing of paint using stand oil, pressure and gravity. I dipped my brush in the stand oil, and proceeded to drag the brush from top to bottom, mixing and smearing downwards all the paint from top to bottom, removing much of the paint in the process, leaving a somewhat distorted vision of what was previously painted. It felt good to do this process again. And in a way symbolic. This whole year, and especially the last 6 months, had been looked forward to and planned with some level of great precision, and then the storms of Dad’s pancreatic cancer, just destroyed and distorted all that as my world fell.

I let the canvas continue to drip for a few hours, and I returned to it every couple of hours with a brush to blend in some of the drips, to help others drip further, and to edit out some drips, especially the ones that were encroaching on the white paint, in order to maintain the clarity and impact of that part of the painting. I really loved noticing some of the striations and nuances in the detail of the the mixing, dripping, paint when looked at at close range. After a couple days, the paint stopped dripping, and I was left with the finished painting.

I was a bit surprised by just how dominant the application of the black paint ended up being. I removed some paint towards the bottom of the canvas that helps to show some more of the purple a bit better, but visible only in controlled lighting. In my original vision, the gradation from black to purple was much more even and gradual. I’m thinking of possibly painting this composition again, but this time use less-thick daubs of black paint on the top, and bring the purple mountain “horizon” line up more to halfway. I’m satisfied with how the white “light” kind of feels like a flicker, or a glow, picking up some of the purple around it. Reminds me of a match lit in a dark hallway, a light of hope even in darkness sort of thing.

It may not have turned out the way that I had anticipated or planned (isn’t it rare if anything ever actually does?), but I’m so glad that I’ve picked up the paintbrush again and got it moving again. Stay tuned for more upcoming paintings, now that I’ve started the momentum again of painting.

I’m also in need of suggestions for titles for this painting. Let me know if you have any ideas that strike you!

Interested in purchasing this painting? Click here for more info.

April 2021 Note from Artist Rachel Brask

On October 8, 2020, my most successful gallery exhibit came to a close. “Weathering The Storm” was the show where I set a personal record for most paintings sold in one exhibition! I was very excited, and so proud of how many people connected with my paintings.

On October 11, 2020 I learned that my father had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He stayed with us temporarily while seeking treatment at one of the top hospitals in Boston. I gave up everything, including my art practice, to just try to help with his care and morale the best I could. We tried to make the most new memories that we could, hopeful for a positive prognosis, but aware it could go in either direction, at any time.

In December 2020, shortly before Christmas, my father passed away, after a long two weeks in the hospital. I was fortunate to have been at his side as he took his last breath, along with my mother. My father had always been my light, my rock, my guiding star. He had always supported my artmaking and my dreams to be an artist. In the final days before he was about to pass, we even thought he’d be coming home, so we had cleared out my art studio, to prepare a first-floor room for him to recover in, but everything went downhill so fast.

In the immediate weeks after his passing, mingled with Christmas and New Year’s holidays, everything is just one big blur of grief, exhaustion, dealing with funerary logistics in the middle of a pandemic. My family returned to their homes, my own house now empty of the sounds I had gotten used to in all the chaos. I lived in a state of deep sadness for a couple weeks, weeks turned to months. I had heard about “grief brain” before, but this is the first time that I lived it firsthand, and lost track of time.

I tried to go in the studio a few times, to paint, but it was emotionally just too hard. I couldn’t even pick up a paintbrush without bursting into tears. My dad had used my studio as his own “little office” during the two months he was here, and after it just became a dump spot for other things in the house, so there was no room to paint, even if I had wanted to.

When the warmer temperatures of late February and mid March started blowing into New England, I finally started to peek out from my cozy grief cocoon, and started thinking about and setting goals in motion to start getting back to “normal,” or whatever that will look like. Progressively, I’ve felt a bit better each day, with time and self-care, and the love and outreach of friends and family.

I set a personal goal of getting my art studio back up and running by April 1, 2021. Today is that day. It is my goal to use this next month to reconnect with artmaking, showing in galleries, reconnecting with art students and teaching art classes again, picking up graphic design gigs, just doing the business of art all over again. I invite you to join me in this springtime of art, through sharing art social media posts, recommending my art to friends, dropping messages here and there, buying a painting or print, or booking an art class, or just to connect with what’s been going on in your own life.

The best thing I love about spring is the sprouting of new life through the colors of flower blossoms after the long, cold darkness of the death of winter. April showers bring May showers…so for me and my studio, I’ll be painting these April showers again soon.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Opening Reception Photos from La Pioggia dei Colori exhibition, Frosinone Italy

In June 2019 Rachel Brask had a solo exhibition of 50 paintings in at the Galeria Villa Comunale in Frosinone, Italy. She attended the opening reception along with her parents, who had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to join her in support. The curator, Alfio Borghese, gave a brief introduction of her work, then Rachel Brask gave a brief talk about her artwork’s inspiration and process, all in beginner’s Italian, with the help of Google Translate. Here are a few photos from the exhibition’s opening reception.


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Two new paintings for Italy exhibition

During the Memorial Day weekend, rather than spend time with friends and family at various cookouts and barbecues, I spent quality time getting to know two new canvases of my Abstracted Rainy Moments series about to head to Italy. With a two-person show suddenly becoming my one-person solo show, I felt I needed to include a few more large paintings, so I got started on the first one of two.


After adding all of the background points of paint, I used stand oil and a progressive smattering of brushwork to help the painting to “rain” on the scene.

Then I set up another canvas on the adjacent easel and started applying colored dots of thick paint daubs to evoke the sensation of mountains and pine trees and a field.

Then I got out the stand oil and my broad brush to “rain” out the paint daubs into drips that I then let continue to drip overnight, only retouching the drips every few hours until nightfall. The next morning I touched them up a bit more.

After the main surface of the two paintings had stopped dripping then I touched up the each of the side panels, and then I let the paintings air out for a week. To help hopefully speed up their drying, I placed an oscillating fan directly in front of them. Then the day came that I had to pack them up for shipment to Italy along with the other 40+ paintings I was sending for a solo exhibition outside of Rome.



Painting Commission Complete

A family’s painting commission of three panels of one large rainy triptych has now been completed and installed! Check out the photos below to see its process!


The first stage of applying the first layers of paint to the final large canvases, inspired by the view of sunset seen filtering through the trees of the clients’ backyard


Side by side comparison of the 8×10″ sketches (foreground) and the final painting (background)


Finished painting drying on easel after dripping


Final paintings installed in clients’ living room!

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 12 (Fri)

Today is my last full day here at my Edgewood Farm art residency in Truro, MA. While I had previously thought that I should be able to start raining one last painting today, which would have been my 6th, I realized that it was impractical. Because we have to check out by 11am and I have a whale watch scheduled for this afternoon, I have to be realistic with my remaining timeframes today. I used the morning to start breaking down my studio setup, putting away my paints, cleaning brushes, washing off the jenga blocks so that they can be reused for other paintings. I started packing the big stuff into the blue suitcase that they all came in, which I’ve now dubbed my art res suitcase, since it makes transporting art supplies all in one suitcase much easier. I was actually able to clear off the whole center table off during the morning packing session, leaving one more table to clear. While I was cleaning and packing the studio this morning, I also put through one final load of laundry, realizing that I was just one day short of a final clean outfit to travel in tomorrow morning.


I took the remaining paintings that were still on easels and turned them upside-down on a strip of paper so that the canvases were resting partially against the wall. I left out just one can of Gamsol so that I can thin down the paint drips on the bottom of the canvas so that it can be used to cover any white spots of the bottom of the canvas. I’ll have to just touch up the one blank spot on the tops of each canvas after I return to my home studio. I touched up the edges of what I could take care of today, and left them leaning against the wall to dry this afternoon. Once those were all set, I got myself together to get ready to head to my whale watch from the Provincetown pier. I have never been on a whale watch before, and I am very much looking forward to it, especially since I’ve heard that there have been a lot of whale and dolphin sightings this week.

Just before I checked into the whale watch dock, I swung into Stop & Shop (now back to normal and fully stocked) to buy some Dramamine to fight any possibility of seasickness, along with some gloves to keep my hands warm from the sea spray. As I pulled into the pier’s parking lot, I got an email from the whale watch company indicating that today’s tour had been cancelled due to the weather forecasting rainstorms along with thunder and lightning. I was bummed out that it had been cancelled, but I’m sure that it was for the better. The tour originally would have departed at 1:30pm and returned around 4:30 or 5:30pm, so now I had this big chunk of afternoon time to work with. I decided I would still make something of it, rather than just returning to campus dejected from an afternoon cancellation.

The first order of business was to get some lunch, as I hadn’t eaten lunch because I didn’t want to have a big meal digesting while we were going over some gnarly waves in the boat. I walked around Commercial Street a bit, evaluating my options. As I was walking I passed Womencraft, a place that had been closed the day before. I stopped in to see what they have, some quirky crafts and cards and buttons. I found a section of published and artfully illustrated poems by Kate Wallace-Rogers and located “Surrender,” the poem that she had read to us on our first day of the residency and again at the open-mic night. I found a canvas panel painted and hand-written with the poem and purchased it so that I have it to inspire me at all times. It’s going in my studio so that I can see it every day.

I walked around a bit and came to the Post Office Cafe, what seemed to be a funky take on a postal office themed diner. I went in and saw a few small tables and a bar, with a red and blue postal stripe all the way around the wall. I just ordered a small wedge salad as an appetizer, as I was still curious to try some other place for a full lunch, but a small side salad would be a good starter and ensure that I got in a serving of green veggies for today.

I walked around Commercial Street’s East End walking toward the West End, evaluating worthy lunch options. I came to the Crown & Anchor, right next to the cabaret, a restaurant and inn with an open-air patio that we had passed many times. I had always been curious to see what it was all about, so I decided to get my lunch here. The waiter brought me to a table on the indoors section of the space, but I requested to sit on the patio (which now had clear panels instead of open walls because of the windy day), so that I could do some people-watching as I was eating lunch. The host complied, adding that there was a private wine-tasting happening in the same space so that I would hopefully not be bothered by their event. I said I’d stay quiet in the corner enjoying my lunch.

I ordered the mac and cheese, which was served on a hot skillet, oozing with melted cheeses. Pairing mac and cheese with a white wine, it was a perfectly cozy lunch, and a nice reprieve from the rainy, cold and windy weather that I was earlier walking around town in. After I finished my mac and cheese, the waiter suggested a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla gelato. Since today was really my last full day to try this place, I figured, “Why not?” The cake was served warm and was very rich and perfect comfort food for this dismal weather day.

After lunch I went walked back towards my car from the West End towards the East End, where I had parked in a toll parking lot, but it was thankfully free parking until May 1st. On the way in I stopped at Cabbot’s Candy, wondering what it was since I had heard the name elsewhere. The gentleman working the register was wearing a classic brown felt top hat, reminiscent of another friend who daily wears a black top hat in Rhode Island. He generously allowed me to sample small bits of different flavored fudge. I found it interesting that they had a lemon fudge, which I had never seen as a fudge flavor before. I had seen vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. before, but never lemon. The flavor of the lemon was subtle but very good, so I bought just a small sample to take with me.

I continued walking until I got back to my car, nearly blowing the car door into me as I boarded my SUV. I drove away and thought to stop in North Truro again on my way back to the Edgewood Farm campus, in order to stop at Chequessett Chocolates to order a coffee. I ordered a Thai coffee, flavored with the slightest hint of vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. From there I thought I’d explore Atlantic Spice Co., if they were open. I followed my GPS and signs towards the big blue building of the Atlantic Spice Company. Upon walking in each shelf was filled with a plethora of kitchen caboodle, gadgets, teas, spices, jams and other culinary cookery. I immediately found my way to the mugs and teapots, finding a cute one that really spoke to my tea aesthetic.

Then I stumbled upon their loose-leaf tea section, which was a full wall of large packages of loose-leaf teas at wholesale prices. There must have been over 36 different types of tea leaves represented. I threw a few bags of English Breakfast and Earl Grey and Masala Chai tea leaves into my little grocery hand-cart. I went over to where there were also tons of packages spices and extracts, all at wholesale prices so everything was really cheap for a good quantity. I loaded up on garlic, ground cinnamon, and basil. As we were walking the shelves, a giant BOOM thundered through the store, feeling like something had fallen on the roof. All the other customers, including me, were quickly started to hear the crack of thunder sounding so very close to us, without even a pre-rumbling to warn us. Just as I was about to check out, the sky opened up and tons of rain just came flooding to the ground in a total deluge of rain. While it’s great to inspire my paintings, it wasn’t so great to have to walk out to my car in this, without my rain cape or umbrella. I braced myself and then braved my way into the downpour to my car. While I survived, the brown paper bag containing my spoils didn’t fare quite as well. When I get home I’ll have to just put them all into an extra plastic bag.

I did have other plans to go drive to Long Nook Road, per the recommendation of one of the people that came through the open studios last night. But when the sky opened down and rained an ocean I decided to do otherwise and just head back to campus. I still had a bunch more cleaning and packing to do, and I hoped to be able to load the majority of my bags and art supplies into the car tonight so that there’s less to do tomorrow.

When I got back to Edgewood Farm, I ran into Patty and chatted pleasantries about our days for a bit. Then I put on my artist apron and went into breakdown and packing mode. I was able to finish up and zip the big blue art supplies suitcase and put several other loose ends into reusable grocery bags, then I brought all those things downstairs by the door to facilitate loading. I cleared off all the table surfaces and consolidated my remaining technology and laptop bag, since I’ll be using my computer and tablet later tonight. Once I felt good about most of my supplies from the studio all packed up, I went and spent some time downstairs packing up some of the items and accumulated goods in my bedroom. It didn’t take very long, and I left out a backpack and main clothing suitcase so that I can use them tonight and then I’ll load them up in the morning.

I brought my cart around to the main door to get ready for loading. I spent the next half hour moving things around in my car, loading up the big art suitcase, bags, boxes, and more. Then I finally took some time to carefully load my wet paintings into the slots of the custom canvas storage rack in the cargo hull of my SUV. It was a little difficult at first to get things slid in, but with a little bit of taps and pushing everything fit. I put in the three large canvases, and then followed shortly with the smaller two which could fit on the same rack slot. After loading all my art and bedroom stuff was all completed, I then emptied my trash bins and recycling and brought everything down to the designated bins behind the barn for trash and recycling. I finished up all this business with sweeping the floor of my studio.

Now that all the important stuff was loaded, now was time to unwind and debrief from the day, and to have dinner. I microwaved some of the leftover mac and cheese I had from lunch today, poured myself a glass of chardonnay, and sat at the living room table to eat dinner and watch the rain and lightning storm through the dining room windows. After I finished eating, I took my glass of wine and went upstairs to my studio to spend some last few moments in the space, writing my blog post from the day with some strawberries and wine. If I had extra time, I would sort through some of my photos from all the sunsets in the days before, in addition to the dune tour photos that I still had to sort through. I made a short list of photos that I had to send to either Martha or to Patty before I turned in and called it a night. I wrapped up my computer work, put my laptop and tablet and corresponding charger cords into the laptop bag and brought them to my bedroom so they’re ready to pack up and go in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll aim to get on the road home probably around 10 or 11am for the two hour drive home, possibly stopping somewhere for lunch or coffee along the way. It’s hard to believe that this session of my art residency at Edgewood Farm in Truro is finally coming to a close. In evaluating my time here this year, I’d say that I still had a great time. This year, compared to last year, I completed about half less physical paintings, but I also had a lot more springtime distractions to be able to go out and research photos for later paintings to be completed at my home studio (and the paintings I did this year were twice the size of last year’s so they took a bit longer). The dynamic between all the artists this time was much different, but still fine: last year we three were all snowed in together so we really, really bonded through that experience and ended each night with a glass of wine and laughter and talking late; this time there were 4 artists and two of them had already been here for 2-3 weeks prior so there was no sense to really gel quite as cohesively, everybody just did their own thing and maybe ran into one another. While the former is true, at least I had a really fantastic series of adventures bonding with Martha, since both of us did the same 2-week term and were connected through our mutual friend, Nan. We went on the dune tour together along with a few day trips and meals out, which was really awesome, as Martha is a kindred and warmly energetic spirit. While we are a couple decades apart in age, Martha’s young spirit really spurred me to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the residency and in life. I hope that we can stay in contact and maybe bump into on another again at another residency here or elsewhere.

I was just one painting short of reaching my goal of painting 6 paintings during my time here, but I now have endless photographed research options for using as reference photos for paintings for another time. I really enjoyed coming back to Truro’s Edgewood Farm a second time. This time around I felt much more confident with knowing where things were in Provincetown (I only used my GPS once the whole 2 weeks I was out here!) and I felt like I got to experience more of the town itself because some seasonal galleries, restaurants, and experiences had just started opening as of last week, so to get to see everything in the early off-season was great because there wasn’t much traffic or waits to get to any of these places. I feel like I made some really genuine connections while here, and I would definitely do it again in another year or two. But I predict that the next time I do a residency at Edgewood Farm I will be working in wax (encaustic) instead of oil paint. That is my prediction because part of this residency (taking encaustic classes with Cherie) also helped to inspire me to really tackle encaustics in my home studio. While I have taken at least 2 weekend sessions of encaustic workshops over the last two years, it was this third series of sessions with Cherie (my first with Cherie) that really gave me some of the chutzpah to really pursue it once I get back. I have to rearrange my home studio a bit and purchase some of the encaustic equipment (a griddle, heat gun, materials, etc.) to really get started, but I think I will follow through this time around.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 11 (Thur)

This morning I was up and in the studio by around 10am after taking a short part of the morning to add photos to yesterday’s blog post to publish it today. Once up in the studio, I got to work on coordinating what I would need to do to clean up and setup my studio space for the open studios event that we were having today 4-6pm. I made a list and surveyed my space to see what would be the most efficient way to start. I moved the table that was forming an L with my art supply table to the wall, so that I could access the wall without windows so that I could hang a few paintings up there. Fortunately my burned fingers were feeling much better today, no stinging just a little sensitivity, so I was able to have much more use of my hands for handling paintings today than I would have yesterday afternoon after the incident.

I took the first canvas off the wall and turned it upside down against the wall, so that I could paint the bottom edge of it. Once that was all set, I took my hammer and put a nail up in the wall to hang up the first painting. On a roll, I took the second big painting down off its easel and turned it upside down so that I could paint the bottom edge and seal it so it could start drying when back up on the wall. After painting it I used a paper towel to gently brush some of the extra paint off the back of the canvas, so it wouldn’t get on the wall, when I suddenly broke off a large splinter and it went right under the nail of my right hand’s index finger. I yelped and checked my finger for the splinter. I ran to my bathroom to find a pair of tweezers to remove the splinter and to wash it out. I put triple antibiotic ointment and a bandaid on space between the finger flesh and the nail. I was so flustered and frustrated that something so stupid and unplanned derailed my hands  (and my plans) again, I just needed to go for a drive to clear my head.

I went to my car and turned out of the driveway towards Provincetown, but I didn’t think I’d go straight to Commercial Street, but I also didn’t have any particular destination in mind. I pulled into the road with a sign pointing to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I parked my car at the corner of the parking lot overlooking the ocean. I was fuming with anger when I arrived, so I rolled down the windows and let the ocean breeze just blow away my frustrations. I got out and snapped a few photos from the comfort of my car. Once I had calmed down a bit, I pulled away to drive to wherever my next destination would take me. I passed the road towards North Truro, realizing that I hadn’t been down that road yet, so I gave it a try.

As I drove, there was a little town square area that had a few little shops, including a chocolate store (!), a cafe, and a little marketplace. I first went into the Chequessett Chocolates shop, and found that it was more than just a chocolate shop, it was also a coffee shop, serving up espressos and cappuccinos too, along with some limited baked goods. The other part of the shop was a a bonafide craft chocolate shop and Cape Cod handmade souvenir and local gourmands.I ordered their Chocolatte, a hot chocolate with a half shot of espresso. They gave it to me in the cutest little cup and saucer, and I sat in one of the little bistro tables inside, sipping my hot chocolate.

Once I made it to the bottom of my hot chocolate, I wandered around the shop to see what they had there, then I went just down the street a little ways to the Salty Market. I walked into the small store with a maximum of 3 tall shelving units, and the rest were local wines and beers of Cape Cod, and the other section of store was a deli, making fresh sandwiches to-order. I realized that it was right around lunchtime (maybe why I was also so hangry) so I ordered their jerk-chicken salad, and Cape Cod chips (since we are on Cape Cod), and brought the sandwich to-go, along with today’s daily newspaper, the Provincetown Herald, in which I was included in a feature article along with the other 3 artists of the residency. The photo turned out the great and the article was well written, with good transitions and detailed enough quotes and information about each artist and their work.

I took the sandwich and drove back to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I ate my lunch overlooking the water. From there I started driving away head back to campus, now that I was much calmer. It was a nice day, so on the way I stopped at Savory to get a single scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream on a sugar cone. I returned to campus feeling refreshed and ready to take on my studio. I finished hanging the painting that had given me the original splinter, and then hung the third large painting. I moved the tables so that access to the space was better, and I straightened up the art supplies and tools that were sprawled all over both tables. I took a broom and sweeped the space, moving my remaining easels with paintings still dripping to select locations to blog some of the unsightly bags and boxes from unpacking. After the studio was all set up and clean, I had only about a half hour before it was officially start time (the afternoon just flew!), so I went to my room to rest just a little before all the busy started.

People trickled in pretty steadily starting around 4pm until around 6pm, with people answering questions and starting interesting conversations with me about my artwork and about their lives and experiences with art. The artist that I had chatted with a few days ago in the gallery came and brought a few friends! It was great to see Laura again and to meet her friends. A bunch of people connected with the Truro Center of the Arts Castle Hill also came out. Several people noted that they came to this event because they saw the article in today’s edition of Provincetown Banner. Over all it was a good event, with maybe about 15-30 people attending.

After the open studios, Martha and I went out to dinner in P-town. Before we made it to the restaurant, we noticed that the sunset was shaping up to be pretty awesome, so we went straight to Herring Cove (knowing the right place to go this time helped), and we got out of the car and onto the beach for the best view of the changing sunset. I snapped what felt like hundreds of photos and videos and selfies with one another. The sunset kept getting better as it went, finally peaking while peeking out from behind a big cloud for a great sunburst sunset.

We went to dinner at The Brewhouse, and noticed that the whole place was full of all men at tables, with only 1 female that we could see when we entered the place. We got a small table in the corner away from the hubbub and ordered some drinks on tap and our dinner. My burger was very good and Martha said that her shepherd’s pie was delicious. After we finished up and paid the bill, we started to drive back to town. But on the way we noticed that the sky was really clear tonight and that a lot of stars were visible. So I drove looking for dark spots away from all the “city” lights, so that we could get a good view of the stars outside of light pollution. I pulled again into Head of the Meadow Beach area (for my third time today), where we had the place to ourselves, and we were able to see the stars perfectly overhead. We even saw a shooting star a few minutes after arriving! It was a nice night for it, not too windy or cold, and before it was forecast to be cloudy and rainy the next few days.

We got back to the campus around 10 and I instantly started my bedtime routine.  I didn’t have any energy left to try to do anything in the studio today, as far as starting my last canvas, because today was all about getting ready for the open studio. I went to sleep fairly early tonight.

Truro Art Residency: Day 10 (Wed)


This morning I wasn’t feeling great and I just woke up feeling like today just wasn’t going to be my day, I don’t really know why and I probably couldn’t articulate how I felt that way. Feeling this way, I wanted to avoid running into anything that would really make my day crazy, so I gave myself a long, slow morning to relax from the comfort of my bedroom. I finished up the two days of blog posts that were late, and updated my website and a few other things, so the morning was still productive, just not in the active painting sort of way. I aimed to start on a small canvas this evening, after I finished up my encaustic class. 

I made myself a small lunch and headed off to the last encaustic class that I would be taking from Cherie during my residency. I gathered up my encaustic supplies and arrived a few minutes early to set up. The other students arrived and class started. Cherie went over a few techniques for doing more involved photo transfers and charcoal transfers. I really connected with the charcoal and graphite transfers so I ended up incorporating more of thos into my encaustic piece over the course of the next 3 hours. I layered and layered wax and drawings and wax. It was fun and interesting to experiment and play around with the material to get a handle on these new methods I was learning.

Towards the end of class I started another small but quick encaustic piece, playing around more with the vertical lines and movement. While today was just playing around with the materials and techniques, it’s still another step closer to my exploring what I can do with encaustic to possibly extend my exploration and celebration of rainy days. At the end of class we started cleaning up, and I needed to do just one last step with my encaustic painting before I wrapped everything up. I reached for the heat gun (it looks like a hairdryer but is about 100 degrees hotter), and as I reached for the handle, my depth perception was off and I ended up grabbing the hot muzzle of the gun, instantly kicking in my reflexes to retract my burned fingers and run quickly to run them under cool water. It all happened so fast! The very tips of my fingers and thumb on my right hand (my painting hand!) were sore in a burn kind of way. One of the ladies in class happened to have some burn treatment gel in her bag, so she gave it to me to use on my poor digits. I lathered the burn gel all on the fingertips and then put a plastic glove on over them to keep my fingertips clean and the gel in contact with the burn area. Once I got my burn all situated we resumed cleaning up (me cleaning with one hand) and did a light review of everyone’s encaustic artwork created during this class in the last 2-3 weeks. I drove myself back as soon as we ended class, finding some band aids and cleaned up my burned fingertips. My studio mate and fell artist Patty was so kind as to help me wrap up my fingertips in bandages and then I sat for a bit with my fingertips in contact with an ice pack. I tried to get some website work done in that time, but realized just how hard it is to use a track pad with my left hand (I’m right-handed).

Some time passed and I managed to one handedly get myself some dinner and sat looking out the window of the living/dining room to see the sun was starting to get into position to assum its sunset position. I decided that I needed to get out of the house and get my mind off my stupid slightly-injured fingers, so I grabbed my camera with my left hand and drove over to Corn Hill Beach, an area in Truro that I have also heard is a good place to watch the sunset. A I pulled into the empty parking lot, I realized it’s not a beach where there’s a nice overlook to watch the sunset from my car. So I got out and spied a tall hill in the corner of the lot that I imagined would have an excellent unobscured view of the sunset. I started climbing up this sandy hill, realizing that it was indee more sand than hill, and the shoes I was wearing, some black flats, we’re not cut out for sand climbing. So I just kicked off my shoes and peds and climbed the hill barefoot. It was actually a really nice sensation to have my feet sink into the sand on the way up.

THe view from the top was amazing, but the sky was looking pretty cloudy, so I wasn’t sure how the sunset would turn out, but I decided to stay and snap photos anyway, since I had already made the effort to climb this difficult sandy dune hill. What happened next with the sunset was pretty cool: the more time went on, the more the clouds shifted to allow more glowing sunset light to shine through, the cooler the photos I was able to take. In the end, it was a pretty spectacular sunset, with pink glowing orb at times, and some nice colors reflecting off of the bay water and off of the clouds.

After the sunset, I returned to campus, spent a little time talking with family via video phone and then watched an episode of something on my laptop before deciding that tonight would be a good night to get to bed early. So I turned into my bedroom early and said goodnight. Today was one day that I didn’t get to do any painting, but I also had this weird finger burn injury happen when I wasn’t planning to. By later in the night my fingertips were at least feeling a bit better. Tomorrow I’m hoping to be a bit more back to normal, to get my last painting of my goal of six paintings started, and hopefully enjoy having our open studios event tomorrow evening .

Truro Art Residency: Day 9 (Tue)

This morning I awoke late than I had planned, with Martha and I leaving for a Dune Tour at 10:30am I had hoped to get a painting started by then. I ended up having just barely enough time, after showering and getting ready, to swipe a paintbrush lightly and rushed over the surface of the waterfall and rocks rain. I gathered my good camera and multiple outer layers and we headed to take one of Art’s Dune Tours.

We arrived exactly at 11am, the time for our reserved tour. We were introduced to Rob, the owner and son of the original Art, who started Art’s Dune Tours in the 1940s. We loaded up in the Suburban along with a senior couple, with we three women in the back seat and Rob and the husband up front, so that nobody had to be relegated to the third row seat. As we drove to the entry point to the off-road section of the dunes, Rob filled us in on his own personal history, his father’s history with the the dunes, and the history of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is government-protected national treasure.

Even the brief drive to the dunes was scenic, and as soon as the tires spun into the first spit of sand, it was on! I took off the lens cap of my camera and snapped photos left and right, adjusting my shutter speed since we were taking photos while in motion. We rolled and spun and flew over the dunes, sometimes taking a slow climb up a steep dune with deep treads in the road. There were a few spots where there even appeared to be puddles, like mirages in the Sahara desert, but they were in fact aquifers from springs under the dunes, making their way up to the surface. As we rode along, Rob would point out some of the local flora and fauna, from reindeer lichen and Tom’s Beard Moss, to cormorants and whitetail-tailed deer. At one point we even drove almost right through a flock of cormorants on the beach, causing them all to fly up and away in slow motion. Driving through the dunes felt, at times, like we were driving some some kind of alien landscape on a sci-fi show, or like we were combing the Gobi desert on an episode of National Geographic.

We were even able to stop and get out the car a couple times to take photos, and to take it all in. The guide even offered to take photos of us and the other couple, having a great time! When we did get out the car, man was it cold! It was maybe 42 degrees (F) out, but with the ocean wind whipping over the dunes, it felt much, much colder! I could barely feel my hands after we finally got back into the warm vehicle. Next time I’ll wear gloves if we go out again at this time of year. We couldn’t tread very far from the vehicle because the lands were roped off beyond the dune trail in order to protect fragile sea grasses and lichens from being trampled underfoot. Apparently, according to history, the dunes used to be like any other wooded area in Provincetown, but the early settlers picked the land clean of wood for their homes and ships, leaving nothing to really anchor the dirt and sand underneath and subject to erosion, which made the sand dunes we see today. Over all we had a really great dune tour, with a Rob as an excellent and personable guide, and we are so very glad that we did decide to do the dune tour. My camera battery also had a good time, deciding to only shut down my camera in the last 10 minutes of the trip, so at least I didn’t miss snapping photos for most of the tour, but I do need to buy a camera battery charger because I left mine at home and didn’t remember to bring it for the residency.

After we recovered from the awesomeness of the dune tour, Martha and I walked across the way from the dune tour office to try out a little pub called The Squealing Pig for lunch. Since I was still a bit frosted from the dune tour, I ordered a small cup of tomato basil soup, and Martha ordered a hot coffee. The place had a cozy pub-like ambiance, but the menu was much broader than just pub food. I ordered the chicken pesto panini (have you noticed yet that I love pesto?) and Martha got a fish sandwich. Martha and I just spent half of our lunchtime fawning over the sheer amazingness of the dunes, the paint colors we would use to capture their majesty, and laughing over the dune jokes that our guy used often during the tour. The food was very good, and I would definitely return to this little spot again sometime.

After lunch we walked around Commercial Street a bit, looking to stop into the store Womencraft, a shop with art and craft objects for sale by women artists and writers. We wanted to find a poem published by Kate W-R, the hospitality coordinator for the residency and a very good poet. She had ready one poem to us on our first day, and again at the open mic last night, that was perfect for the art process, and I would love to have a copy of the poem. When we arrived at the shop, it was closed because it was Tuesday, and most places on Commercial Street were closed on Tuesdays, only to open again on Thursday through Sunday. We turned around and started walking back towards where we had parked before the dune tour, only to stop briefly into the Purple Feather to get one of their famou hot chocolates. It was very good and loaded with whipped cream, and a tiny little chocolate heart on top of the whipped cream. As I ate the whipped cream with the gelato spoon they provided, the little chocolate heart had nothing to float on, so it sunk to the bottom of my hot chocolate, to melt and be enjoyed later as I finished my beverage.

We returned to campus, and touched up the dripping waterfall rain painting for awhile, before I realized that I needed to go find a camera shop for my Canon Rebel T3i camera battery to get a charger for it. I recalled that my studio mate, Patty, had mentioned a camera shop she went to in Orleans to make prints. I asked her where it was, and realized that they close by 5pm. So I had to drop my paintbrush right then in order to make it to the camera shop in time before they closed. I got in my car and went, arriving just in the nick of time. The staffer there was very knowledgeable about cameras and their battery needs and recommended a multi-battery charger that would also accommodate mine. I bought it, thanked them, and got back on the road to Truro.

When I returned, I had  just a couple hours in which to work in the studio before I had planned to meet Maartha to try to catch the potential sunset over at Race Point or Herring Cove. I had asked the dune guy which beach to see for which best time of today, and he said Race Point. We got in the car around 6:45 to hopefully catch the beginning transition to sunset, which had the official sunset time of 7:28, but I think that’s when the sun officially dips below the horizon. I wanted to be there at least a half hour before that time. We followed signs to Race Point, taking a right long before I had remembered, thinking it was straight that I was supposed to go. But oh well, we were following signs so that should help us. We drove through dunes and hills, trying to keep a sense of which side the fading sunlight was coming from. There was a slow car ahead of us that we were getting frustrated that it was blocking our opportunity to catch the full spectrum of the sunset. We drove to what seemed to be the end of Race Point, with a big officially looking house nearby, a parking lot, and the ocean just beyond a short walking path. But this wasn’t the drive-up ledge that I remembered parking at last year to watch the sunset from the comfort, and warmth, of my own car. Something seemed off.

I thought then maybe the guide might have been off, and that we should have headed to Herring Cove to catch the best sunset over the bay and to live our best life. We got turned around and followed signs towards Herring Cove, with some sort of warning about beach construction. Up ahead by about 50 feet was a barrier blocking the road, Road Closed, said the sign amidst traffic cones. We couldn’t go any further so I turned the car around with a 3-point turn, and headed back to Route 6to get our bearings again. When we got to the red light, we turned right, to correct for where we should have gone straight initially. We followed a new set of signs for Herring Cove Beach, which brought us to a parking lot (which was open) of a bunch of road construction vehicles (plows, bucket trucks, dump trucks, etc) and another road block, which would have lead to that ledge over a the beach where we could watch the best sunset from our cars. After all this, we drove back to that little spot around Race Point and watched the remainder of the sunset from our car, but it wasn’t right over the beach and ocean water, but the sky was still pretty. It wasn’t an epic sunset like the intense reds of a few nights ago, but it was still pretty cool to see and to photograph. We stayed through the end of the sunset, sometimes getting out to stand on the nearby picnic tables in the window to get a. Better photograph. At one point we were joined by two other people also trying to photograph the sunset before they moved along to the other side of the parking lot.

We returned to campus shortly after which out much fanfare or additional adventures. I was totally drained from the exciting day and there wasn’t much more time left tonight to really get a good chunk of painting done (without staying up until 2am), so I just touched up the currently dripping rain painting, and then I went to the main building across the courtyard to get some laundry washed and dried, and then I was in bed by 11pm.