What I've Been Working On (February 2020)
by Anne Kostecki
February, the shortest month! And incidentally, will be the briefest recap for me, for reasons that will become clear. For about one quarter of the month, I was out of the country, and so a lot of my energy was spent preparing for the trip, and recovering from it. I'm actually struggling to remember what happened at the beginning of the month. I apologize if this is out of order.
So at the beginning of the month, I finished up my garden roses watercolor. I went outside of my comfort zone and painted on Arches cold press watercolor paper: which has a serious tooth. It's probably the most highly recommended watercolor paper, because it is so perfectly absorbent. You can use a copious amount of water, and the paper won't bend and warp the way that cheap watercolor paper does. It does require extra brushwork, and ultimately I think it adds time to the painting process. But it really cuts down on the errors! When you can paint so carefully, and easily correct mistakes with a quick scrub of the brush, you can get a fantastic piece of art in the end. This is still my most engaged piece on my Instagram.
I decided to keep experimenting with cold press paper, so I drew little vignette pieces. The first was an iridescent seashell. It was by far the most difficult color work I've done! The shell has such subtle color variety, it was really hard to emulate it. It has grays, pinks, purples, blues, greens, and contrast between lights and darks. You can tell in the photo that the shell had iridescence to it, but capturing that was not simple.
The next one was a photo of 2 apples, with a very interesting branch attached. This one was easier for me. I've painted apples before, and I think apples are much more recognizable than other objects. I liked the composition of this image: the leaves and the branch add vertical interest, and the apples have a nice variety of color.
Vacation and Events
I didn't have a lot of time to begin a big project. I did some inventory, thought about my spring art fairs, and brainstormed new items to sell. We hosted an Oscars part on Feb. 9 and cooked lots of food - all around the themes of the all of the Best Picture nominees. We had a few friends over and played Geran's "Fantasy Draft" Oscar game. I can't begin to explain it. The important thing is, that the food and drink was delicious!
After that, we left for Costa Rica on Feb. 11. We spent a week with around 25 people, all of my father-in-law's family and friends. It was crazy, as you can imagine. Planning things was very complicated. My husband and I made time for our hikes and nature walks, and saw some cool wildlife. We had delicious food, and I LOVE the smoothies there! We spent time at the beaches and the pool, and man, it was hot. I got heat rash, and miraculously did not get a sun burn. I was so happy to get back and see my daughter though. She's gotten so much bigger, and learned so much in the last month. She's gotten better about us going on vacation too (thankfully).
Art Show and Classes
After we got back the 18th, we went to a comedy show on Feb. 19 (Jim Gaffigan; hilarious). And since I'm getting old, I needed time to recover, so I spent a few days cleaning up, going to the library, and searching out my art fairs and shows. I applied to The Women's Creative's show Procure, and I was so thrilled that I got in! It's a local women's business marketplace here in St. Louis. I've never been to an event, but I wanted to go, but we were in Costa Rica. And since I have another art show the following weekend, I knew I needed to add more inventory. So, I spent some time last week and made new products to sell!
My garden roses painting is now the cover of a notebook. I took my rainbow jewel pattern from a while back, and made that a spiral notebook too. My eucalyptus branch painting is now an illustration on a notepad, and I FINALLY made my Space Dragon into a sticker (albeit an expensive one)! I really hope customers like my new products. It's always a gamble to order a large amount of new inventory and not know if people will respond to it. I'm glad though that I have new products like notebooks, notepads and stickers. Before, almost all of my inventory was art prints. Variety is the spice of life.
I've also been working hard on my drawing course. Adding new exercises, writing new lecture sections, designing homework, organizing my thoughts, and thinking critically about what I want to teach. It's an interesting balance of the following questions: what is necessary, and what needs to be emphasized? What types of problems to new students have with drawing? What do they want to improve, and how do you encourage without being overly critical? I find that students can withdraw if you point out only errors. Encouragement to keep trying can inspire people to keep going. If you think you're hopeless, would you keep trying? It depends on the individual...but it's always helpful to point out what a student is doing right, and what has improved.
Right now, it's a 9 week course. I could make it a full semester 13 weeks someday, and possibly give students two options. I don't think you can learn enough in less than 9 weeks, though. And as with everything, more practice is the key! Nobody is born with so much talent that they don't need to practice. Even professional artists sketch random things just to keep their skills sharp.
Art Challenge and Future Work
This month, I finished Susan Chiang's Paint With Me February challenge! I finished it on March 1. I worked hard on this, which was something I didn't expect. Whenever I do an art challenge, I can end up throwing a lot of detail work into it. It just happens. My brain notices so many things, that I struggle with my artistic side saying "let's ignore that part," or "emphasize this part more." I'm happy with the final result, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Could it be an art print or a card? Do you have any ideas? Please let me know!
Ok! My next to-do is a series of St. Louis landmark paintings. I started a sketch of a view of Forest Park. And, I want to know if you have any suggestions for my series. The new St. Louis Ferris Wheel, Union Station, The Arch, and the Jewel Box are all on the table. This series may take some time, but I have high hopes for the variety of application. Shirts, prints, cards, maybe even something I haven't thought of yet!
Happy (future) March! -A.K.