A Typical Day in the Studio

A Typical Day in the Life of THIS Artist: By Rachel Brask

Today is the perfect example of some of the things that I did in the “typical day in the life of an artist.” After I woke up and worked out, I made a small breakfast of oatmeal and mug of tea and brought it with me into the studio. I spent a couple hours doing administrative things like reviewing my schedule and goals for today, checking and responding to email, and updating my website and social media. 


Then I put on my Pandora playlist of jazz/celtic/classical/opera music, tied my apron on, and painted the edges of a few small paintings that I had drying from earlier in the week. This process helps me warm up to making first marks on a bigger painting. I then removed them from the easel and moved them to the drying rack. I took a new blank canvas and used my tools to affix hooks and wire to the back of it, then spent some time folding and taping paper to create a “gutter” for this new painting to catch the dripping paint once I got started. I apply the first background layer of thin paint just to tone the canvas.


I break to load up a few paintings into my SUV and drive them to be dropped off at a local gallery where I’ll have an exhibition this month. The gallery is located near a favorite coffeeshop of mine, so after delivering the painting, I bring in my laptop and get a sandwich and coffee while I process and edit a few photos that I will be using in some future paintings, taken from a recent outing/travel. After lunch, and while I am already out and about, I stop by one of the local art supply stores to pick up a new big bristle brush and new tubes of white oil paints. 


I drive back to the studio and embed the new extra art supplies I just bought into my collection of oil paints (I was supposed to only get 1 tube each of the whites, but I ended up buying three other tubes--oops!). I make my afternoon tea, Earl Grey, hot, extra strong, and donned my painting apron. My afternoons and early evening are always most productive in the painterly way of starting new projects. I pin up my reference photo of a mountain scene with a lake and reflections of sky, mix my colors, then begin to apply thick pointillism-style paint daubs all over the canvas in the colors I anticipate using for the rain composition, imagining how each top color will blend with colors lower on the canvas. I snap several photos throughout the process, for use in marketing later.


I take a brief dinner break with my husband, then I return to the studio and turn on the studio lights, since I had been using the natural light but now it’s dark post-sunset outside, so I turn on my easel lights calibrated with special daylight-spectrum light bulbs. I finish the last of the paint daubs, the most tedious part of this process. I drizzle stand oil all over the painting, and let it drip for a few minutes, while I fold out a bunch of paper towels and rags that will be useful for the next phase. I use a big paintbrush and apply my signature “rain” effect, causing all the paint and stand oil to begin dripping all over the canvas. Once everything begins dripping, I station myself the desk for an hour or two to wait for the painting to move, writing up a blog post for later, updating my content strategy, research potential exhibition and residency opportunities, 


Lastly, I take a paintbrush and lightly brush the drips forming on the painting, helping the blend of colors and texture that I know will change yet again in the next several hours. Finishing for now, I wash my brushes well, cover my paint palette, and turn the lights out on the studio in order to let the painting drip overnight. I go relax by watching the latest episode of something on Netflix, then go through my bedtime routine, sleep, and then check on the painting early the next morning and adapt. Then wash, rinse and repeat.