Artist in Res­i­dence

This space func­tions both as a stu­dio and the con­trol cen­tre of the Academy of Real­ist Art, Bos­ton.

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Julie Beck shows us around her wellor­gan­ised stu­dio, where she also helps to run Bos­ton’s Academy of Real­ist Art.

While some peo­ple might hate the idea of be­ing sur­rounded by stu­dents, I love it!

If I’m by my­self, it’s easy for me to be­come de­mo­ti­vated or let the doubts in my head take over. Hav­ing stu­dio space at the school keeps me much more fo­cused and pro­duc­tive. I not only want to set an ex­am­ple, but I want to prove to the stu­dents and my­self that I’m wor­thy of ev­ery­thing they in­vest here. I also think it’s im­por­tant for stu­dents to see how the things they learn in aca­demic stud­ies ap­plies to more creative, con­cep­tual and/or imag­i­na­tive work.

My stu­dio may seems small for a pro­fes­sional artist, but I do have the rest of the school to use if I need space for mak­ing can­vases. About half of my still-life ob­jects are at the stu­dio, but I also have an en­tire apart­ment filled with knick-knacks, much to my hus­band’s de­light. The easels are set up so that my cen­tre easel never moves, but I can ei­ther have photo ref­er­ence or a model stand to the left and at least one sight-size still-life set up on the right. I like to work on mul­ti­ple things go­ing at dif­fer­ent stages. Some days I feel like draw­ing, other days I feel like paint­ing, and other times I feel like throw­ing ev­ery­thing out the win­dow. Good thing the windows don’t open! Julie spent 10 years be­ing a graphic de­signer and cred­its her hus­band Tim for giv­ing her the con­fi­dence to be­come a pro­fes­sional artist. See her art at www.juliebcre­ative.com.

I love that my stu­dio is lo­cated in such a his­toric place. It’s an easy com­mute to the Leather District in down­town Bos­ton. My stu­dio dou­bles as work­ing space, but it’s also the of­fice out of which I run the school as the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. ARA Bos­ton is a pri­vate art school teach­ing the fun­da­men­tals of rep­re­sen­ta­tional draw­ing and paint­ing. (Think of learn­ing the mu­si­cal scales and chords in or­der to mas­ter an in­stru­ment.)

While some peo­ple might hate the idea of be­ing con­stantly sur­rounded by stu­dents ask­ing ques­tions, hav­ing ex­is­ten­tial crises, look­ing for scis­sors... I ab­so­lutely love it!

I work day and night in this stu­dio, but I’m not the only one who makes my dream a pos­si­bil­ity. My hus­band, friends, fam­ily and men­tors have all helped me along this jour­ney.

This army shirt/paint­ing smock is from my very first job where I worked in a prop room in an in­surance com­pany’s creative ser­vices de­part­ment. It acts as a re­minder of how far I’ve come on my jour­ney. My favourite Pin­ter­est find! This keeps all my paints eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and in the or­der that I’d put them on my pal­ette. Some­times I bring my dog Zoey in, but that means more time I have to spend pick­ing stray dog hairs out of my paint­ings. Stu­dio walls are stor­age space for fin­ished paint­ings. It’s a nice way to ad­mire how awe­some my fin­ished works are, or lament on how much I need to im­prove. As an in­struc­tor, I usu­ally have at least one project go­ing that’s a demo or ex­am­ple for stu­dents. This piece demon­strates how to use glaz­ing to max­imise high chroma with high value. I pre­fer to work from life, but when it’s not pos­si­ble, I work from both printed and on-screen ref­er­ence. Live ele­phants won’t ex­actly sit still for me. This rolling cart is a huge space saver. I can stay or­gan­ised while ev­ery­thing is right at hand. I can also roll it to other floors in case I want to do some fig­ure paint­ing. I use a lot of an­i­mal re­lated themes, so it’s not un­usual to find ran­dom an­i­mal parts in my stu­dio. I can paint these bricks in my sleep be­cause I’ve painted them so many times. Also, my friend and well-known il­lus­tra­tor Dave See­ley lives on the other side of that wall and up one floor! This oil paint­ing, They That Sow the Wind, is spe­cial to me in many ways. There’s per­sonal con­tent and nar­ra­tive go­ing on, but I also felt that I hit a new level of tech­ni­cal abil­ity here.

It was im­pos­si­ble to work from life for this, so I had to in­vent the colour scheme for Not My Cir­cus. Hav­ing dif­fer­ent light­ing op­tions for dif­fer­ent set ups is im­por­tant to me. The soft-box gives me a cool day­light ef­fect with soft shad­ows, whereas the clamps lights have warmer light with sharper shad­ows. This box floats around the stu­dio. It’s filled with a ran­dom as­sort­ment of still-life ob­jects from past and for fu­ture paint­ings. I’m drawn to­wards tall, thin images, but here I ex­plored sym­me­try. The ti­tle is pulled from a Tarot card read­ing: King of Cups, Re­versed. Orig­i­nally in­spired by Wil­liam Mer­ritt Chase’s paint­ing The Leader, this is a por­trait of one of my stu­dents. The piece is called Red Hand, Green Thumb. I have a prob­lem with buy­ing paint brushes. This isn’t all of them. I’m also a huge fan of New Wave pal­ettes.

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