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Sadie Valeri Atelier
My art school for adults and teens in San Francisco, California.

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Entries in studio setup (19)


Easels and Tabourets

A lot of people ask about what easels I recommend. In our classroom studio we use two:

H-frame Winsor Newton Shannon Easel

It’s sturdy and well-made for the price. A hidden knob and pin make it non-intuitive for new students, but eventually they figure it out.


American Umatilla Easel 

Lightweight, affordable and very easy to use. We use pony clamps to secure the drawing board for more stability. 

The tabourets are actually laptop stands I bought from They are a perfect height for holding pencils and palette next to you while you work.

This is my personal studio easel, I love it:
Craftech Sienna Counterweight Easel





Still Life and Cast Stands Setup and Lighting

The new Cast and Still Life studio is all set up and my annual workshop is underway this week!

I’ve been working hard on getting great lighting on all the station and easels and I’m really happy with how they are turning out.

(Ripley prefers the studio to be full of her friends, she’s been a bit lonely this summer, she can’t wait to get her “pack” back together!)

The space really started coming together when we set up our furniture. For still life/cast stands I like to use black/brown Ikea shelving units. They are like shadow boxes, but with a bunch of extra shelves for storing materials. Students use the shelves to store their paintings supplies between classes.

Ikea Bookshelf
Shelf unit, black-brown 
Article Number: 401.021.29 

To start the lighting, I wanted a lot of white ambient light all over the room to light the easels well for painting and drawing. There are several skylights all over, and we added additional banks of fluorescent all over the ceiling, with the same daylight bulbs we discovered work great when we set up our last studio.

Philips 40-Watt 4 ft. T12 Natural Supreme 5000K Linear Fluorescent Light Bulb

Lithonia Lighting Industrial 6-Light High Bay Hanging Fixture

Then came the hard part: Baffling all that ambient light to create dark shadow boxes for the still life and cast setups. I want a single lightsource to shine on my subject, with very little ambient light. So I hung black photographer’s drapery from the ceiling (this is the baffling in the Figure Studio):

The hard part is the ceiling is 16 feet in some places. The easy part is that it is wood, so we can just staple up the fabric. This is the fabric I found - it’s not complete black-out, but it works well to stop light shining on your subject:

Prism Backdrops 10X20’ Black Muslin Photo Video Backdrop Background

To light each individual cast stand we installed track lighting and pointed each light directly at one stand, from an angle. I set up a small cast and also an upturned silver goblet and put this setup on each stand, one by one, to test the light at each station. The white plaster cast shows me if the shadows are dark enough. The silver goblet is a clear reflection of every light source hitting it, which is really helpful to figure out where stray ambient light is coming from.

I get most my casts from

This cast is an inexpensive one I got at

To control the light I created a “hood” for most the stations from a large piece of black foamcore attached to the top of the bookcase with a wire and strong Gaff tape. This blocks the skylight and fluorescent light but it is angled to allow the track light to shine on the subject.

To control the light shining from the track light, we wrapped each light with Cinefoil, which is black “tin foil” used on film sets (one of the many lighting tips I have learned from my film-major husband, Nowell!).

I’m not posting the track light details because I’m not sure I like them yet. They are LED lights, which were an investment, but they will save us a lot on electricity bills. But we might end up swapping them out for stronger spotlights.

I ended up lighting most the stations with a clamp light (with the reflector hood removed) and a good LED bulb:
Feit PAR30 LED Reflector Bulb

I also used a pony clamp to make sure the light will not slip.
The light from these bulbs creates a tiny double-edge along the edge of a cast shadow, so I tape a piece of frosted mylar over the bulb. I also tape a piece of Cinefoil to mask off the light so it does not shine in my eyes.


New Studio Warming Open House Party July 6, 2014

I am thrilled to announce that after a long search we have recently leased an additional, larger studio space! The new location is just 1 mile from our current location.

Please join us for a Studio Warming Open House Party to check out the new space and enjoy some refreshments on Sunday July 6, 2pm-6pm!

1045 17th Street, San Francisco, California

The Figure Studio has an enormous frosted skylight right over the model stand

The walls have just been painted (Benjamin Moore, Sparrow AF-720) and we are currently building out a kitchen/lounge area, as well as installing keypad-keyfob door access, plus shades for the skylights. We are still keeping the current Bryant Street location as well.

Skylights and beautiful original beams in the Figure studio

The new space is over 3200 square feet (our Bryant Street studio is 1800 square feet). It has high ceilings, north light windows and skylights throughout, plus beautiful dark wood ceiling beams. Best of all, we will have a Figure studio in a completely separate room from the Still Life and Cast studios, so we can run classes concurrently and we won’t have to rearrange the space daily as we do now.

Wall of North Light windows in the Cast and Still Life studio
The new space is just a mile east from our current space, at 17th and Pennsylvania Ave, in the Mission Bay neighborhood.
The address is 1045 17th Street, cross street Mississippi.

Still Life and Cast Drawing studios are subdivided so everyone has plenty of wall space for mounting casts and setting up still lifesMove Date
We will be setting up the new space over the summer and classes will begin classes at the new space in August and September. Most summer workshops will still take place at Bryant street, but my workshop, Daniel Keys, Katie Whipple, and Felicia Forte’s workshops will be at the new studio.

Parking and Transportation
There is available street parking in the immediate blocks around the studio which is free all day. So far we have always been able to find a spot within a block of the studio, even at peak business hours. There is also plenty of free 2-hour Residential street parking within a couple blocks of the studio.
Public transportation: The studio is accessible by the Caltrain commuter rail, the 3rd Street Muni light rail, and the #22 bus


Entrance to one of the Still Life and Cast Drawing studios

NEW Extended Hours!

Still Life and Cast students now have access to the studio from 9am to 5pm on their designated studio days, so students can come in and work on ongoing projects in addition to the regular instructed hours.



Studio FAQ: Lighting, Wall Color, and Casts

We get a lot of questions about our studio setup, so I thought I’d compile the most frequently asked questions into one blog post. Everything we have set up came with a LOT of research, but lucky blog reader you get it all in one post!

What color are your walls? (And why are your walls gray?)
Benjamin Moore Sparrow AF-720, Flat. It’s a cool neutral gray, but tends slightly more towards green than some grays which can look blue. I think the slight green looks better with skintones. Depending on the light, the wall can look warmer or cooler. I loved the color in my 500 sq foot studio, and so I used the same color when we moved into our 2,000 sq ft studio.

Why not white walls? Before the 20th century, art studio walls were not white, they were dark! The invention of the “white cube” studio space is a 20th century idea. I believe it’s because in the 20th century the focus was moved off the subject and onto to the canvas. White walls put maximum light on the easel, but white walls bounce far too much light into shadows on the subject. Contemporary Classical Ateliers try to control the light of the subject and keep the shadows dark, so three-dimensional form is more clearly revealed.

Where do you get your plaster casts?
Giust Gallery is the best place I have found to buy plaster casts of antique and 19th century sculpture in the US. Good casts are very difficult to find because most museums no longer allow new moulds to be made of the collections, so the moulds are generally at least 100 years old and highly coveted. You can google search “Winged Victory” and find LOTS of plaster versions of the statue, but they are usually just inferior copies sculpted by modern artists. If you have ever drawn a particular cast and learned what it really looks like, you will cringe to see the terrible modern copies being sold as “casts”. 

Where do you get human skulls and skeletons?
China and India rightly banned the export of human remains recently (to stop a very exploitative market), so in the last few years it has become extremely expensive and difficult to buy human skulls and skeletons. I bought one real human skull from The Bone Room in Berkeley California (a great place to visit, it’s like a Natural History museum where you can buy the exhibits) and I also bought a couple excellent reproductions from Bone Clones, which makes medical-grade casts of skulls and skeletons. Just as with casts, you can find cheap versions online, but a $60 plastic skull is so far from plausible human proportions as to be worthless for artistic study. Bone Clones is the only brand I have found to be good enough quality for artists.

How do you light your studio?
Our studio has north light windows, but in the evenings we light our studio with artificial daylight bulbs bright enough to be suitable for drawing and painting. 

Overhead Lighting
We did a lot of research before we installed our overhead lighting, and we have been really happy with the setup: Strong, white, full-spectrum bulbs that light up the room for our evening classes.

We were originally considering Kino Flo bulbs at about $22/bulb, but after looking at all the options we realized that Philips sells a tube fluorescent that has equally good ratings for $4 a bulb.

We wanted a Color Rendering Index (CRI) to be higher than 90, and the Philips bulbs were rated 92 CRI.

We wanted 6 bulbs in 4 housings, so buying 24 bulbs at only $4 each was a huge savings. These are the bulbs we bought:

Philips 40-Watt 4 ft. T12 Natural Supreme 5000K Linear Fluorescent Light Bulb

The other problem with Kino Flos is the housing fixtures for the bulbs are also really expensive. So instead, we mounted the Philips bulbs in these 6-bulb housings from Home Depot:

Lithonia Lighting Industrial 6-Light High Bay Hanging Fixture

The specs say the housings are for T8, 32 watt, but the T12, 40 watt Philips bulbs fit just fine with no heat increase.

In fact the lights generate no discernable heat, and no sound at all. I find the flicker and hum of bad florescents very distracting, so this was really important to me.

The housings do not come with plugs so we purchased a 14 gauge grounded extension cord and my husband Nowell joined the wires.

The hardest part was getting the lights hung from our 18 foot cement ceiling! After lots of hassle we finally found a hourly-rate handyman with a scaffold who could hang them from chains drilled into the ceiling, but that was after we rejected a $3000 installation-only bid from an electrician.

Easel Lighting
When more light is needed on an easel we attach a Daylight Easel Lamp from Dick Blick. It has by far the best designed clamp I have ever seen on a clamp light, and comes with an excellent daylight bulb.I recommend these often to students for their home studios.

Matte Black Cinefoil attached with gaff tape helps control the light so it does not spill onto the subject. 

Lighting the Model
Finally, we needed a better setup for lighting the model. We have a set of theater Arii fresnel lights from Nowell’s filmmaking days, but those lights are warm in color, run hot enough to burn a bare hand, and are heavy and prone to tip their stand the second the sandbags are removed.

I asked around and got the excellent recommendation from Susan Lyon for the Tabletop Kühl Lites. We bought a set of 2 and we love them!

We have them mounted on a better quality c-stand so they can be mounted on a boom arm for greater flexibility over the model, but the stand they come with would work fine too.

Finally, sandbags are important to keep them from tipping on any stand. The shipping fees for a full sandbag are outrageous, so we buy the sandbags empty and fill them with sand bought from the local hardware store.

How do you set up your Cast Drawing Stations and Still Life Stands?
IKEA! For cast drawing, each student gets their own dedicated Ikea BESTA Shelf 401.021.29, which they light with daylight or with a clamplight. 

For my still life classes we have Ikea BESTA Shelf101.021.35 on castor wheels which we roll out for each still life class, and we keep the still life setups on the shelves below for safe storage between classes. These are a good height for still life and I recommend my students buy these for their home studios. I make shadow boxes from black foam core and gaff tape which are set on top the stands.

Setting up our teaching studio has been an enormous labor of love, and we have worked hard to get everything just right for our students and instructors. 

I feel grateful to all the artist studios and ateliers I have visited to get ideas for mine, and grateful to be an artist in an era where this kind of information is freely exchanged between artists.

We don’t get any compensation for endorsing the products we list here, it’s just honestly what we use and like, so if you feel so inclined, buy a video to say thanks for the free info!


New Studio for the New Year

I am very pleased to announce that I am moving to a larger studio! 

We have been preparing the space for the last couple of weeks, and now I can finally share a sneak peek.

The new studio is 1800 square feet, with 18 foot ceilings and a wall of north light windows. We have painted the walls a classic “atelier gray”, and installed brand new glossy black flooring. There is a separate small space for my own painting studio, and the rest of the space is wide open for classes and workshops.

The studio is just a half mile from my old space. It is located on Bryant Street, just north of 16th street, near the the Protrero shopping center.

With the larger space, we are now offering even more classes and workshops:

Non-Instructed Figure Model Sessions
Tuesday and Thursday evenings
Monday and Wednesday daytime
To see the full schedule and register for the first round of sessions beginning the week of February 6, please visit:

Drawing and Painting Classes
There are still a few spots left in our Winter/Spring schedule of classes, see all upcoming classes here:

Advanced Open Studio
For artists who have completed group painting or drawing classes and wish to practice their skills with Sadie’s help and instruction, we are offering Advanced Open Studio on Sundays.
For more information visit:

Easel Assembly / Pizza Party / Champagne Toast
We would like to invite our local studio friends to a sneak previw of the new digs! We invite anyone to drop by the new space on Friday, January 13th4pm-9pm.
If you are feeling handy, we would love your help assembling our fresh batch of fancy new easels. And even if you are not particulary adept with assembly, please stop by for a slice of pizza and a glass of champagne anyway!
(Note: Those who arrive on the early side can get a glimpse of our lovely north light before sunset!)
Please RSVP to and we will send you the address.

I would like to thank everyone who took classes and workshops from me in the last few years. It is through your support and dedication to Realism that this expansion of the Sadie Valeri Atelier is even possible.

I hope you will enjoy the new space in 2012!




FAQ: Winged Victory Cast and Studio Wall Color

I often gets questions as to how I got my Winged Victory cast and where to get a good-quality version.

I bought mine after spotting it at a sidewalk sale in 2003. The owner had inherited it from his grandmother, and had had it in storage for many years. He wanted to sell it to someone who knew and loved the sculpture, and I was only to happy to tell him my story of falling in love with the statue when I first saw and drew her at the Louvre in Paris when I was 16. We struck a deal, and the statue was mine, to this day it is my prized possession. The original owner has visited the studio and was happy to see his grandmother's statue in a place of honor.

It's not easy to find good quality replicas, which are casts from the original. If you Google "Winged Victory" you will find a lot of cheap statues, but if you look closely the quality is very low and crude. The form of the figure and the folds of drapery look grotesque and amateurish. They are usually inferior copies by modern sculptors, not true casts from the original.

My understanding is that most museums no longer allow cast molds to be made from their works, so the only molds that exist are historic.

The only place online I know to order high-quality casts made directly from original historic molds is the Giust Gallery:

They have several sizes of the Winged Victory here

 Studio Wall Color

Sadie Valeri Atelier

I am also often asked about the color of my studio walls. We often think of modern art studios as having white walls, which is great for throwing light around the room and getting lots of light onto the easel. However, white walls make it very difficult to control shadows, and when working from life you want a good balance of light and shadow.

I noticed Grand Central Academy and a lot of the contemporary ateliers have dark grey walls. Also, when I Google-image-searched "atelier" I found some beautiful images of restored historic studios with dark walls.

The color I chose for my own studio walls is Benjamin Moore "Sparrow AF-720." Human fleshtones look lovely and glowing next to it, shadows look deep and rich, and it's easy to control the light bouncing around the room.

I used to think it had a touch of green in it, but after mixing the color for my paintings many times now, I find it can be matched accurately from mixing just from Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber, and a little white. Perhaps a tiny bit of the yellow cast of Raw Umber is reacting with the blue to make a tiny touch of green, but essentially it is just a neutral.

Click the slideshow below to see more photos of the studio:


Studio Photos

The new studio is finally all set up! Thanks to everyone who made it to my studio warming party, if you missed it and you'd like a tour, just email me to arrange a visit.

I have been designing this studio in my mind for years, it's wonderful to get the chance to create the ideal environment for my work and for teaching students.

If you are interested in studying painting or drawing with me, please visit my Teaching Page to see the schedule for classes beginning in January. Also, sign up for my mailing list to be notified when new classes are posted.


New Studio Preview

My husband Nowell took this photo of me in front of my new studio building this evening. And here's a sneak preview of the inside by day...

It's pretty bare now but at least you can see the cool double doors and beautiful north light! I'm dying to show you more but I'm going to wait till it's all set up.


New Studio, New Classes and Workshops

As many of you know, I currently work in a very tiny studio, which I affectionately call my "art pod". While it's an ideal workspace for still life, it's a bit tight for students or models, so I have known that eventually I would need to upgrade.

Well, I am excited to finally announce that after months of searching, I have found my new space: a gorgeous 500 square foot studio with north light in the heart of the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

It's in a wonderful old warehouse with hardwood floors, enormous windows, and one of those fabulous old-fashioned radiators. I am currently setting it up for ideal classical study, with a dark neutral wall color and thick draperies to control the light.

Beginning in January I will be offering Classical Realism drawing and painting classes and workshops in the new studio. Please visit my updated Teaching page for more information and to register!


Studio Tour

Sneak peek: You can see potential future still life flotsam clustered at the far right end of my still life shelf.

My current painting is clipped to the easel, along with my palette. I use the handy rubber-tipped clips you can buy in hardware stores. They are perfect to hold a panel but I really wish they were not bright orange.

I use white tape on the floor to mark where my stool sits for the current painting. I sometimes sit and sometimes stand while I paint, but my stool is high enough (and I am short enough) that my head is the same height either way.

This is my prized "dobie" rolling chest of drawers. I have two, and they are perfect for painting in a small studio. (I bought them from IKEA a few years ago and my husband can attest to the fact that they were a PITA to assemble.)

I put my paints on the top drawer, jars of various medium mixtures in the second drawer. My brushes stand in jars that fit perfectly on the shelf on the left side, and the handle acts as a stand for my mahlstick - you can see it leaning there on the right. There must be some better trick for not dropping one's mahlstick, I still manage to drop it a few times a week and wow it makes a loud noise on the wood floor.

Finally, here is a shot of the view above my head: Some fine San Francisco architecture, a bank of afternoon fog rolling in, and a network of wires I confess I've never noticed before I took this photo.

About 6 months ago I climbed up on top the studio roof and washed and hosed down the skylights. They might be getting to that point again.


Color Mixing

I thought I'd give a little introduction to the palette I use and how I mix my colors.


There are many different color theories - models and philosophies for understanding how color behaves. I use a methodology of color mixing that I learned from my great and most influential teacher at RISD, Anthony Janello. Tony however might cry to see what I have done to his beautiful color system, as I use it to mix up mainly grays, while he is a high-chroma colorist. I can't find any of Tony's paintings online, but I did find a recent student of his who posted the kind of color studies I also did in his class.

As my approach has evolved it's become my own and I don't think any of my teachers would appreciate me crediting them with my color handling, as I basically create monochromatic paintings. But you could use the same fundamental color theory to make highly chromatic paintings, it's all in the proportions.


My palette is limited, essentially primaries: a red, a yellow, and a blue, plus a couple others that I've discovered save me time, plus white. I arrange my colors is roughly rainbow order, and I always put them in the same order. The specific colors I use evolves all the time, but right now I'm using these (as seen left to right on my palette above).

titanium white (two puddles in case the first gets contaminated)
cadmium red
cadmium orange (I use it as a yellow)
yellow ochre
sap green
cobalt blue
ultramarine blue
mars red (actually a rich brown)

A note on black: I don't use it because it makes more problems for me than it solves.

A note about "red" - the red we were taught in kindergarten to mix with blue to make purple does not work. Magenta is a "true" primary color, meaning you can use it to mix a secondary color. Magenta is my "red". Cadmium red is really an orange, and mixing it with blue makes mud.


For purposes of vocabulary:
Hue is color
Value is light and dark
Chroma is intensity/brightness

Any swatch of color can be defined by it's hue, value, and chroma. When you mix any two colors together, the chroma/intensity is always reduced - a bright yellow and a bright red will make a slightly less intense orange. Different hues also have different values. So the complicated thing about color mixing is how to get the color/hue you want while also controlling the chroma and value.

Before I start painting I mix up a few puddles of dark paint and light paint for the areas I'll be working on and make some 5-step chains of puddles between the darks and lights. Mine are neutral (low chroma), but you could use highly chromatic/colorful chains, too.

To start mixing, first I choose the value puddle I want, and then if the paint mixture is too red, I mix in the complementary or opposite, green; if it's too purple I add yellow, if it is too blue I add orange.

Any two colors mixed together will lower the chroma/intensity. So any two colors opposite each other on the color wheel will essentially cancel each other out. I use this "canceling out" to mix subtle shifts between hue, value and chroma. Memorizing the color wheel is the most helpful thing you can do as a painter.

With this method I can mix subtle shifts of hue, value, and chroma. I essentially visualize the color space in 3 axis of dark to light, intense to less intense, and one side of the hue to the other - blue and orange for example. I picture my puddle of paint where it exists in my color model, and "push" it around the three axis: darker or lighter, bluer or more orange, more chromatic or less chromatic.

Different colors also have different values right out of the tube. So if I am mixing a dark neutral, and it is too blue, I don't mix in a high-value orange like a cadmium, because the value will lighten while the chroma decreases.

Which is why I like Mars red - I use it like a low-value orange. I use sap green for the same reason - it's a higher chroma green than what I can usually mix, an I use it to "cancel" with magenta, cadmium red, or mars red.

I use two blues for the same reason - both are high chroma, but one is much lower value, so I use ultramarine for low-value mixtures, and cobalt for high-value mixes.

After a while the system becomes intuitive and you don't think about it much while you paint. But I still sometimes get stuck and have to ask myself "what color is this paint?" to notice it is purple, and I better add in some yellow or I'll end up with a purple painting.

A note about paint quality:
It's always worthwhile to buy high-quality paint. The cheap tubes simply have more oil and less actual pigment, so you use more paint anyway.

A note about lighting:
Light is very very important. If you paint under a normal lightbulb, the yellow tint will distort your perception of all the colors. The more I paint, the more I find the only true light is indirect daylight (north light). At the very least, paint with a full spectrum, daylight, color corrected lamp designed specifically for artists for shining on your easel. However, you can shine any color light you want on your subject, as demonstrated with magnificence by Dan Thompson.

For more color theory:

Munsell is a great introduction for understanding hue, value, chroma, although I don't follow the methodology. I posted their chart above.

Handprint is an amazing site for understanding the science and practical mixing of color. It's focused on watercolor but much of the information applies to paint of any kind.


Home-Cooked Gesso

The messy studio - a far cry from the "gallery look" of last weekend!

I've finally decided it's time to bite the bullet and become a painter who preps my own supports.

"Support" is the general term for what an oil painting is painted onto, either a wooden panel or stretched canvas. I prefer wood panels to stretched canvas because the surface is smoother and more rigid.

Previously I have mainly used factory-gessoed wood panels, like GessoBoard. Gesso is the chalky white paint that is layered on a canvas or wood panel before you start an oil painting. But I've decided that if I'm going to spend 60 hours on a painting, I may as well spend a couple hours preparing the surface.

So being an all-or-nothing type, I dove in and spent 3 solid days layering 19 panels with 2 layers of rabbit skin glue and 5-6 coats of homemade gesso, sanding between each layer. My right deltoid muscle aches to say the least.

I used traditional gesso materials from Sinopia (glue crystals, chalk, and white pigment) and combined them using their traditional gesso recipe. For the wood panels I used ArtBoards of all sizes, rectangles and squares from 6 x 6 inches up to 18 x 24 inches.

I bought a single burner hotplate for using in my studio, and improvised a double boiler by nesting two old cooking pots together - two pots that won't ever be used for food again.

First I soaked the rabbit skin glue crystals in water overnight, which made a transparent, gelatenous gray lumpy mixture. Then I put the mixture into my double boiler, and when it warmed up it got clearer, runnier, and became a thin, watery glue. It spread really easily onto my wood panels with a housepainting brush, but immediately began to sink in to the wood and dried almost instantly.

Re-reading the directions, I found out I had to do TWO coats of the glue. It wasn't too horrible, and I have a good ventilation system in my studio, but there was definitely a distinctly funky odor. I don't know exactly how they make rabbit skin glue, but I imagine vegetarian painters don't use it.

Once the panels were sealed with the glue, I mixed together the chalk, white pigment, and remaining glue mixture and warmed it to make the gesso. It made a watery, not very paint-like liquid, so I had to play around with the proportions a bit. But I found it works best if it's slightly more watery than housepaint, so you can paint thin layers.

This was how I stacked them to dry, "good side" leaning down to avoid dust, but careful not to let the front surface touch anything. I got pretty good at perfecting a sort stable mutual leaning system. Every time I added a layer of gesso to a panel, I had to lean it up to dry, and by the time the last was painted the first was ready to be sanded, so I had to rotate them around quite a bit.

The sanding was the most tedious part, and my arm began to really ache. The second and third day I tried to use my left hand as much as my right to sand, so now both my arm ache.

Anyway, the project was a success - I now have 19 beautiful panels with a silky/chalky/smooth surface, plus a dozen teeny tiny panels that were just laying around the studio, for little oil sketches. Hopefully I won't have to do this again for a long time!


Open Studios 2008 Recap

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and especially those who bought artwork, my open studio weekend was a huge success! I sold 28 artworks, had 126 people sign my guest book, and I estimate over 400 people toured my studio - sometimes standing in line to wait because my little space was so crowded. It was wonderful to talk to neighbors and art lovers all day and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I'm also thrilled to have already been written up on the Haight Ashbury Beat blog - scroll down the page and you'll see one of my gold-leaf-goddess collages with a nice description.

So, my blog is officially 2 years old, and it's made me very introspective about the last 24 months of my life as an artist. Two years ago I had not yet discovered the classical realism movement and the contemporary masters who would become such a huge inspiration to me. Two years ago I was mourning all the years I had been away from painting. Two years ago I was facing my biggest fears about returning to it.

Now, two years later, I am completing my 24th week of intensive, full time training under some of the most important living masters teaching today, through classes at BACCA, Gage Academy, and Studio Escalier. My studio work has begun to take shape and with the recent still life paintings this summer I've found a direction I want to persue for a series. I'm starting to feel the ticklings of recognition, and also a pull to teach.

I'm finding that with dogged pursuit, momentum grows.


Le Shed

I had my studio built last year in a tiny space where a decrepit tool shed used to be. I designed it to fit against our odd-shaped bay window-ed house, avoiding a medallion window we wanted to preserve. So it's like a puzzle piece wedged into a concave shape between the house and the outer fence. Anyway, it will be open for Open Studios so you can check out my quirky little Art Shed if you are local!

This is a sneak preview of my for-sale paintings framed and hung for my opening, and also a preview of the new setup for a little painting of lilies I am hoping to crank out quickly. It will be interesting painting flowers, because my last 3 paintings took 3 weeks each, and these flowers will change much faster than that! How did the Dutch masters paint all those ephemeral dewdrops and beetles?

Open Studios for my neighborhood is the weekend of October 11/12. My studio will be open both days 10am-6pm. There are some good brunch places in my neighborhood, so make a day of it! You can get a guide listing all the open studio locations at most coffee shops in San Francisco. The map will also be included in the Bay Guardian newspaper the week before. Email me sadiej [at] for my studio address if you need help finding me. More info at


Studio Video Tour

Take a tour of my little art studio!

Sorry no music or real sound - yes my husband is a filmmaker, but he's is working 12-hour days this week (on special effects for the new SpeedRacer movie), so he hasn't had time to teach me any video editing skillz.


Time Lapse


Juliette Aristides' Still Life Painting Workshop
Gage Academy, Seattle WA, August 2007

This is so cool - Nowell set up his high-definition digital video camera on his tripod and recorded a couple time-lapse films of our art class this week.


You can see the films on YouTube:
Gage Academy on YouTube Day 1
Gage Academy on YouTube Day 2



My New Art Studio

My new studio, affectionately dubbed "le shed", is officially done! This morning I woke up like a kid on Christmas, so excited to paint in my new space. It's small, but everything fits, and it was totally comfortable to paint in.


Full Spectrum Lamp

This is my new lamp, it clamps to the top of my easel and has a flexible arm so I can move it around. I haven't actually painted with it and I'm not convinced it's true "natural daylight" as it claims, but the white light looks pretty good. I'll report back after I paint under it.

Edited to add: I found a whole chapter devoted to green on the site - guess I'm not the only one who has problems with green!

NEW UPDATE -- April 6 2007
I am not very happy with this lamp after all. The light color is great, but the problem is the arm is too stiff. It attaches very securely to the easel, but it will not move where I want it to go. Very annoying. A few people have asked which lamp it is:
This is the lamp I have
This is the lamp I am thinking of buying


Open Studios Recap

Open Studios is done! One of the (few) benefits of our front door opening right onto the sidewalk is that we got quite a bit of foot traffic (although next year I'll register at the higher level to get into the official SF Open Studios Guide!). Even without the publicity of the Guide I managed to sell several pieces and was commisioned to create 3 new pieces, so I consider the weekend a success. Thank you to everyone who came to our Opening party or stopped by during the weekend!