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