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In the Studio This Week – Still Life Two Ways and an Owl, plus a Wreck!

In the studio this week, the Mailan Art Institute Mastery Program art school had a scheduled break. I was about a week behind and used this time to catch up. I also had signed up for the taster sessions for Lifebook 2024. This is another course offered by the amazing Tamara LaPorte of Willowing.org. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to do any of the sessions, but one lesson was of an owl that really spoke to me.

The week ended up not so well as I had my first ever automobile accident and I was at fault! I’ve never even had a parking ticket before this.

Still Life Number One

This still life was from a photo, one of many offered by the Mastery Program as a reference source.  I chose a photo of a rosebud in a vase, as it appeared less complicated than the other choices. The shapes were simple enough, but capturing the reflection and the various shading on the leaves and the glass were more difficult than I had hoped. The point of this lesson was to get as close to realism as possible. I think my drawing came close, but certainly not perfect. I’m still trying to get comfortable with the transitory nature of charcoal.

Charcoal drawing of a rosebud in a glass tumbler  from the Milan Art Institute Mastery Program art school.

Still Life Number Two

This was the third in the series of starting with limited colors and then gradually adding a few more colors to the palette. One of the objectives of this lesson was to set up a composition, using different materials than used in the previous still life lessons.

I chose a clear vase with flowers, a marble mortar and pestle, and one of my journals. I didn’t capture the reflective nature of the vase very well and the proportions of the mortar and pestle are off, but I like the way I captured the book and the ring binding. I like that I was able to give the illusion of the binding without going overly detailed. What do you think?

Still life oil painting of a vase of flowers, a mortar and pestle, and a journal sitting on a table from the Milan Art Institute Mastery Program art school.

Lifebook 2024 Taster Session with Dawn Vander Stoep

I signed up for the Lifebook Taster sessions, knowing that most likely I wouldn’t have time to do any of them before the time ended. I did look through each of the daily lessons and many of them featured artists I’d taken lessons from before.

I had decided that, if I were to take any of the lessons, I would try an artist who I had never known. I also wanted to try different mediums to get out of my comfort zone. I also wanted to do something quick and fun to take a break from the rigor of the Mastery Program.

One did catch my eye. It was an owl done in pan pastels and accented with gold acrylic paint. I love owls and have painted many. I also want to be more comfortable painting with pastels. This lesson used pan pastels and I just happened to have a set in my art supply stash that I had for awhile but really didn’t know what to do with them.

How could I not take this lesson?

Mixed Media Owl Painting with charcoal, pan pastel, and acrylic paint

The Wreck

The week ended well. I had caught up on my Mastery Program lessons and even had time to do a quick, fun painting. I was set for the upcoming week when I took a left turn out of the church parking lot and ran right into a car coming straight on the road towards me. I swear I didn’t even see it coming!

Both my husband and I were in a tailspin and traumatized by the whole event. I took a day off painting as I had to drive to Phoenix. That was a little unnerving, but I hope to be on track next week.

Wrecked automobile being loaded on a tow-truck.


Life can be a roller coaster at times. Lately, mine feels like a cement mixer. Just get in and keep driving, the journey is not over yet.

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