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by Anne Kostecki


What I've Been Working On (December 2019)

by Anne Kostecki

What I've Been Working On (December 2019)

by Anne Kostecki

I started this draft in 2019...and now, as you know, it's January 10, 2020! WHOOPS. Ok. Sorry about that. The last month, with the pile of work I had to do plus the insanity of the holidays, got away from me. Below is the draft I started, explaining what the month was all about. Here goes.


It's the end of the year, and the end of the decade. At the end of the month, I'll be turning 32. And, it's the nearing the end of my first year of full time freelancing. December is a time of reflection for a lot of us. It's also very busy, not just with gift giving, but if you're a small business owner like myself, then this is the time of year for handmade fairs and markets. It's strange to have this time of reflection mixed up with the holiday hustle; I feel like my mind is in two different places. And honestly, it's in more than two places, as you'll see. I usually take responsibility for my lapses, and this time I will, but since my family and I are back home now, we had kind of an unforeseen number of holiday events on our calendars. Seriously, we have a shared Google calendar, and every single day for the last two weeks of December had an event of some kind, or some prep work we had to do for an event. So.... we needed a vacation, and we did get one, as you'll see!

The birds, clearly, were the last part.

So, in November I started a large watercolor painting for my brother and his wife for their nursery. I gathered at least 5 reference images: the background, a flock of birds, a hippo, zebras, and elephants. Each image had different lighting and positioning, so I had to resolve the inconsistencies. The sketching phase did not take long, but painting the background took a lot more time than I thought it would. I taped down the watercolor paper and primed the paper with water, but I don't think I did that right because unfortunately the paper ended up buckling. Anyway, I was steadily working on this, and had a deadline on the horizon: I was invited to participate in the Laumeier Sculpture Park's Holiday Pop Up on December 14. Only about 12 vendors were asked, so I was so happy to be invited! I hadn't done a show in about a year, so I had plenty of inventory, I just had to spend some time organizing my booth, getting last minute supplies, and packaging, pricing, and cataloging original paintings and drawings.

In early December, I received a message from a friend asking about a commission, hoping to receive a final original before Christmas. I knew I would have to rearrange a few things, but I wanted to do it, especially since there was a heartfelt story behind it. She wanted a painting of a white heron, with a Florida-like background, for her mother. When her father passed away, her mother was visited by a white heron, and she was comforted by the sight of the bird and believed it was sent by her father. I found a reference photo for the heron and then the background, and started by painting the heron. Since the bird is mostly white, it was a quick section. The background was more challenging: my first version did not turn out the way I liked, so I started over. It was the best decision, because the second version of the background was so much better! I was really happy with the result, and the recipient loved it so much. I love brightening the holidays for people.

The water did not look natural to me, and it became overworked.
Final version, much better.

So I had another piece in an art show, this time at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles. I had a watercolor painting of a mountain, and I needed it framed and gallery-ready. So the Arches paper I have is a weird size, and this painting ended up being 12 x 19.... when most frames are 12 x 18. I did not have time for a custom frame job, so I had to *eek* trim a bit off the painting to make it fit. Then, the day I needed to drop it off, it snowed an absolute ton! The roads were terrible, but my husband generously dropped it off for me, then visited his sister. The art opening was on December 19, and it was really cool, my family attended, and there were a lot of great pieces. And great Christmas cookies.

Setting up!

So the next step was the big holiday pop up. I didn't sleep the night before. I have a problem with insomnia, though. So I jumped up super early, the car was already packed (thankfully), and we headed out. My husband generously helped me all day, although in retrospect, he didn't need too. I rearranged my booth at least twice, moving products around, trying to highlight all of the options (stationery, prints, originals, handmade books). Once the show started, I was ready! And I was so surprised and happy by the turn out. Hands down, my biggest seller was original artwork! I sold some card sets and prints, and even one of my handmade books. People love my Forest Mist print, and now I'm proud to say I'm almost sold out of them! And my husband said he doesn't really love that one... HA! The customer is always right, and they love that one. I need to make more prints of those, because even Union Studio sold out of them! So I need to get to work on more forest watercolors. And, at the end of the show, one of the associates at Laumeier asked me about selling my work in their gift shop. I said "Yes!" and now I'm excited to hear from them. And, I was asked to apply to their Mother's Day art fair, which is supposed to be a huge weekend event. I applied to that right before I went on vacation, so fingers crossed!

A lot of these works have been sold!

Another thing I quickly worked on was Susan Chiang's "Paint with Me" Challenge. I painted a log cabin in the woods. I tend to be a literal person, so I painted almost all of the tree limbs and forest in the background. This one was a quick one, maybe taking me 6 or fewer hours? It's hard for me to keep track.

Branches close up.

So something I've also been working on in the background has been developing a drawing class curriculum. I have students interested in learning the fundamentals of drawing, so I designed a 9 week course, with each week focusing on an essential piece of the drawing puzzle. The curriculum also features some of my I guess "expert" advice (I have trouble calling myself an expert) after drawing for roughly 16 years. I draw on (haha) my experience taking art lessons, my undergraduate experience at Wash. U., and mostly my hours and hours of experimentation. I'm wondering if I should film a class and possibly share it on Patreon, or some other outlet like Skillshare. I'm worried because I'm not a public speaking person, and I don't know much about video editing, so I would probably need help. Do you know anyone who would be interested in helping? I would of course, pay for the filming and editing. I could do all of the marketing myself (I have to use this MBA for something). It's something I'm thinking about in the new year.

After the pop up and art show and family gatherings, I had to finish that nursery painting. I barely had enough time before the baby shower, in fact, I had to enlist some babysitters to watch my daughter so I could finish it. I also hosted the baby shower, meaning I had to clean, cook, and decorate my house for it too. I actually illustrated and designed the invitation for the party in one day! I managed to get it printed less than 2 days after that, and then I did the calligraphy and sent them. It was my fastest start to finish job to date, I think.

And here is the final African animals painting. I was happy with it, and I believe the couple was happy with it too! I chose not to frame it, because it needed to get shipped back (I'm always concerned the glass will crack, and that the frame won't fit in any luggage).

Couldn't get a good photo on the last day. It was already dark.

Well, it was getting past the holidays, so I had one day to pack for our 6 day trip to Maui! My husband and I had the best time, but we really missed our little girl. She missed us too, I think. My husband had never been to Hawaii, so it was an eye-opening experience for him. It was my second time to Maui, third time overall, and it's still as beautiful as ever!

Best walk ever. Despite the mud.
We saw big rainbows literally every day.
Beautiful 'Iao Valley.

Ok now I'll go work on January's, I promise!



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