What I've Been Working On (March 2020)
by Anne Kostecki
It's April Fool's Day! Time for an update on how March has been here in the studio. I kind of gave a huge update in my previous post... and I thought it would be funny to show you what I originally wrote at the beginning of the month:
It's March! There's more daylight, the weather is getting warmer, and there are more rainstorms. I can feel my mood lifting. This is the first time in a while that I feel like my schedule has been cleared up for the foreseeable future. I know that I have 2 big art fairs this May, and that is what is hovering over the horizon for me. I try to carve out time every day to think about what I'd like to sell. There are prints, originals, and various products so far, all of them stationery-related. I would love to make some temporary tattoos too...I just need some time to actually design those things!-Me, on March 5, 2020
Well, I guess I can say my mood has lifted in regards to the weather getting better. February, as it often tends to be, was cold, windy/snowy, and not suitable for leaving the house. But unfortunately, as you know, my art fairs were cancelled. Actually, one of them has moved online! It will be a virtual fair, I think on Facebook Live. It's a Women's Creative event called Procure, and I'll be live selling my products! I will definitely look pregnant, and I'm not much of a public speaker, so please pray for me. I have FOUR new products, plus my usual prints, cards, and possibly even a few originals will be for sale. I'm offering bulk discounts (as I do at real life fairs). So, I'd love it if you could get the word out and support small businesses!
So, I've started my St. Louis series with a very favorite place: Forest Park. It's an iconic place, and definitely a favorite of St. Louisans and non-St. Louisans alike. I am proud of the fact that I could actually use my own reference photo! Here is the photo:
Drawing this scene took a lot of time. I usually don't like to measure a photo obsessively and draw every tiny detail to scale. I prefer to challenge myself to draw it as I see it, and so I blocked out the basic areas, and then spent a lot of time drawing in the detail for the building. Once I had the drawing set, I began painting, and somehow painted the whole thing from the bottom up. I had never do that before, but it actually made the process easy for me. It allowed me to easily break down the photo into sections, and to focus on each section's color palette and technique.
The whole painting, from start to finish, probably took 5 full days of work. I only get about 2 hours a day maximum to work on this, so I'm just guessing, honestly. It was quite enjoyable, because I love painting on Arches hot press paper, and I tried a few new things that ended up looking good (the broken up, layered color on the water was something I had never tried). I'm really excited to get this painting scanned, which I will have to do at a print shop, since my scanner is too small (and I can never tile things perfectly).
I'm thinking this will be a folded note card, a print, and possibly even a t-shirt. I know that eventually I would like to make a series of 8 sites around St. Louis for a notecard set... so I need 7 more ideas! The Arch is, of course, on the list. I'd like to add the Old Courthouse, Union Station, Tower Grove Park, and a view of the Central West End. It would be ideal to avoid any commercial enterprise, no matter how much we love it (like Ted Drewe's or Crown Candy Kitchen). So what do you think? Fox Theatre, Busch Stadium, Soulard, Historic St. Charles...?
A new experiment: paint the same image in watercolor and then in gouache. The image I chose was NOT easy:
I painted my first version in watercolor. I did not like how it was looking, so I gave up on it. The reference photo has many instances of layering, and with watercolor, you cannot layer lighter over darker. It just didn't look right. So I tried again with gouache.
I was sort of happy with the finished gouache piece. I didn't have a chance to capture all of the detail before the deadline with Minted. It became an abstract piece, which I think makes more sense, given the reference photo having so much going on. I have the original, and I'm planning on putting it up for sale once I decide on a price.
In my last post, I showed you a series of 3 watercolor paintings of Italy. I finished those earlier this month, and I submitted two of them to the Minted Art Multiples challenge. You can go vote now on my entries! I entered 5 pieces, all of them doubles. I have never entered a challenge like this one before, so this was new for me. Below is a gallery of my entries. Please tell me what you think!
This month, I also submitted 3 designs for the Birth Announcement challenges, and 3 for the new Backpack Design challenge. I have never been able to properly create seamless patterns in Adobe Illustrator before, but thanks to multiple tutorials and my husband's coaching, I was finally able to do it! I really love seeing a beautiful pattern, and I've always wanted to be able to create vector patterns for various projects. Now I'm hoping to do more of that! Here are my entries, and you're welcome to vote on them!
I have four new products in my Shop! I have 2 new spiral-bound notebook designs, a notepad, and a sticker. And as is customary, I took my own product photography. I will be frank with you and confess that this stresses me out a lot. My studio does not have very good light: only one small window. So I have 3 large softboxes with LEDs, and a large reflector, plus other reflective surfaces. My goal is to GET AS MUCH LIGHT AS POSSIBLE!
I love the look of bright light in my product photography, and I try to achieve the best white balance that I can. My collection of styling products isn't very wide, and it's mostly fake flowers. I think that I'm mostly happy with how these photos turned out, but I would really like to experiment more with styling.
I went to a product photography seminar at Camp Minted last year, and the speaker from MaeMae & Co. kept stressing the importance of variety, color, and different backdrops. I embarrassingly only photograph on white, and I happen to love the look of a clean white background, so that you can see the product itself. But lately, I've toyed with the idea of adding more color and backdrops. There are companies and Etsy stores that sell styling mats, and they charge over $120 just for 1-2 surfaces! My grandmother would chastise me if I bought something that is so insanely simple to sew. And so, I bought 24 remnants of linen, and it cost me $63!
This month, I cleaned out the closet of my studio. It's much more organized now, although it is still mostly boxes of my inventory, art supplies, fake flowers, and Apple boxes. I got new art supplies! My first set of gouache paint, called Nicker Poster Color. I love how I can work with water, and it's opaque enough to get a creamy, cover-your-mistakes texture. I'm working on some holiday ideas for Minted's upcoming holiday challenge.
I've heard that another one of my art fairs might go digital. I'm curious to see how it all turns out. I've worked a bit on my drawing course, and I'm probably going to have to set up video conferencing for class. It's not good to get too out of practice with anything. Although, I really think it's better to learn art in-person, sometimes the world doesn't let you have a choice. We're in an unprecedented situation. We may be effectively quarantined until mid-May here in Missouri. I just hope that we can flatten the curve, and that health care workers can get what they need. I'm so amazed at what I've been seeing: busy cities at a complete standstill, a drop in pollution levels, all kinds of people reaching out with comfort and solidarity. I'm thinking this moment will teach us something.