I haven’t updated any of my “formal” social media sites in quite some time now. I’ve been so caught up in creating. The remainder of my third year of university was spent tangled up trying to juggle school, work, and side projects. This summer has felt like a huge exhale as I’m preparing to inhale the chaos of this upcoming school year. I feel so ready. I am so in love with what I do. I’m writing this at 1:06am, I’m up so late because I can’t stop. I don’t want to go to bed, my curiosity wants me to keep reading and making and researching.
I spent the past few months up at 5am only to go to work until the late afternoon, to spend the remainder of the day working in the studio. And repeat. I’m so in love with what I do. I can do this forever and ever and ever.
My at-home studio
I have a few more weeks left before I enter the second half of my third year at OCAD U. The university delayed the start time of the winter term until the end of January to deal with the chaos happening in the city. As much as I don’t want to get my hopes up too high (because this province is unpredictable), I am really looking forward to having my studio back.
The OCAD studios are these large white spaces with easels set and ready. I find working in an actual studio allows me to concentrate and motivates me to work on the task at hand. Working from home can be so distracting.
In 2019, my first year, you could always find me working in the studio. When the university first shut down, I had to rely on my tiny basement apartment to work in. Working in this small space with very poor air circulation (barely any windows) really did not benefit me. After only a couple of weeks of working from there, I had to stop painting entirely. The paints started to make me feel sick. Thankfully, once I took the paints and painting supplies away, I felt better quickly.
I moved from the basement a few months after that incident into a room with two large windows. Not the ideal spot to paint as I was working next to my bed, but it was much better. The ventilation was great and I never had any of the problems I was experiencing in my previous place. Working in this spot, I avoided oils entirely. I can write about how I got over my fear of oil paints in another post. All in all, the place was a thousand times better than my last. I did have difficulties working at a larger scale since I couldn’t fit and work on an easel properly due to lack of space.
My current at-home studio setup is great. I have great ventilation and I’m able to work very freely in my kitchen. The set-up can be a bit strange from time-to-time, but I feel like I’m stepping closer to perfecting these temporary studios I make for myself. Here I’m able to work in all mediums and I’m usually working from my dining table or from an easel. The problems I face here are mainly concerned with finding storage space for what I make.
I’m really hoping to return to in-person learning for the upcoming term. Maybe (and hopefully) the at-home studio can turn into more of an optional choice rather than my only choice. Anyways, I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on the progression of my studio experiences.
Pastel for the Standards
A while back in November 2021, I had the pleasure of visiting Toronto-based artist Howard Podeswa in his studio. During this visit I borrowed A.G. Tompkins’ Pastel for the Standards from his collection.
Pastel for the Standards is a Canadian artbook from the early 1900s centred around drawing exercises for school-aged children. Common exercises of the book include drawing sheets of construction paper which have been altered with various techniques. Rendering simple forms and colour mixing are emphasised greatly. Like Howard, I completed these exercises in oil paint rather than pastels.
I spent the last year doing online school because of the situations in my province. Finding motivation outside of a studio setting challenged me for the longest time. When you’re spending every second with yourself in a room, the creative urge disappears as life moves towards the banal. Also in the last year, I realised how beneficial practising still-life is. Still-life is simply creating– painting, drawing, etc. from observation rather than photo. This practice strengthens your ability to render and simplify forms, provides opportunity to experiment with application, and helps in the set-up of compositions. Practising still-life can also contribute to picking up daily painting habits.
I started considering the practice of still-life more seriously after an observational painting course I had taken in the first half of my third-year attending OCAD U. I shortly noticed the benefit these small studies had in my larger practice. Sometimes things feel small and pointless, but their greater purpose comes at a later time. This is kinda how I felt with my studies. It’s very easy to feel “rusty” after a period of time not working, still-life practice aided me in overcoming this challenge.
Sometimes the concept of creating still-life can be so unappealing as approaching one can seem very boring. I’ve felt discouraged plenty of times from simply not knowing what to study. This is where I felt the book really helped me. I enjoyed the unexpectedness of the preparation process and also the fact that I hadn’t worked with construction paper for some time now.
The studies gave me a fun challenge. I was able to identify subtle shifts in colour throughout the paper. I did these in the course of a night and it was addicting, I couldn’t stop!