Guest Post: Ashley Glazier's Sweet Process & Studio

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Before I get into my studio and process, I’ll briefly introduce myself. I am Ashley Glazier, and I am a fine artist, illustrator, and a wanna-be pastry chef. I graduated from BYU with a BFA in Illustration just back in April. As you probably have guessed from the looks of my work, I LOVE baking and confectionery. Along with drawing & creating non-stop since a young age, I’ve also been baking and decorating cakes. When I was 8, my mom surprised me by enrolling us in a beginning cake decorating class at the local hobby store, and from then on I was hooked! I would bounce back and forth from my bedroom (which was constantly an insane creative mess) and the kitchen. I’ve always been intrigued by the tactile and sensory experience of preparing food, and that interest was only enhanced when I learned how to oil paint while in college. The very first time I painted with oils was a revelatory experience- it was like painting with butter! I absolutely love to paint, and I’m eager to continue to learn all that I can about it. I also love landscape, portrait and figurative painting. Right now, it’s just fun for me to explore my interest in confectionery by painting about it!

Now that you know a little more about my background, we can jump into my studio and my process! As you can see, my studio definitely isn’t anything fancy or pretty, it’s simply the second room in our apartment.

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Even though it’s just a normal room, it’s the perfect space for me to feel like I can let loose, paint and make whatever else I feel like. I have a tarped off area for particularly messy projects like gessoing panels or finishing frames. My trusty french easel has definitely seen better days, but it’s hanging in there!

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My studio tour wouldn’t be complete without introducing you to my co-worker! This is Oscar. He’s my studio buddy. The chair he’s hiding under is “his” chair. Whenever I paint, he’ll eventually curl up in, under or around his chair. (He was a little concerned about all the camera snapping so he got a little shy and decided to hide.)

On to my process! I’ve gotten quite a few questions about my subject matter and process. Do I ever eat the confections I paint? Do I make them all myself? What do I do with them when I’m done? Well...

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They’re not super pretty, but that’s the cool thing about sugar! They can last literally forever. They dry out and look a little dreadful, but I keep them around as long as I can in case I want to use them again in another still-life set up. Of course, not all cakes and confections can last! Ones that have more perishable ingredients in the frosting or filling obviously won’t last, but I try and keep the ones that I can.

Contrary to what you may think, I rarely eat my still-life set ups. I think it’s all the frosting and cake I’ve consumed since I was 8, but I actually can’t handle a lot of sugar, so I’m pretty selective with it. Unless it’s a new confection I bought from a bakery, a fresh macaron, or a new recipe I tried and I really want a taste, I usually won’t eat it.

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Personally, I prefer to make each dessert that I paint. But alas, I have to be real- I can’t have everything I want! For larger paintings which involve larger subjects and concepts, I think it’s easier to make everything myself that way I have control over each element. When I’m in a situation like I am currently, where I need to produce quite a few smaller paintings with each needing its own concept and flavor (ha!), it’s SO much easier to visit local bakeries and stores to buy pre-made confections. Eventually, I’d love to have the resources and time to bake my own creation for every painting, no matter what size!

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Every painting of mine starts with a little dessert- more simply, an idea. I really like the idea of playing visually with the flavors that are involved with each individual confection. I like to add secondary elements that help visually describe the chosen confection, similar to how chocolatiers will garnish each truffle with something that describes the flavors inside. For example, as shown above I have a personal sized pecan caramel cheesecake which I bought from Smith’s. I also got some soft caramels to set up around and on top of the cheesecake. Without the caramels, it would be hard to tell what kind of cake this is in a painting! (I should have had whole pecans too, but they were out of them.)

I also decided I liked the color relationship of the amber caramels with the slate cheese board background. After moving things around for a bit, I found a set up I liked best.  

(At the time I took the above photo, the cheesecake and caramels had been sitting for a couple hours under my flood lamp, hence why everything looks so melty!)

While I’m moving things around finding a good composition, I’m also simultaneously using my handy dandy viewfinders. They help me to better see my composition.

Once I’m seeing what I like, I do some thumbnail sketches. Not all artists do thumbnails, but I’ve found that right now it really helps me visualize the final painting, and work out values. It also helps me better understand my desired composition and spatial relationships. (Thumbnails for this painting are on the bottom row below.)

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I’ll then mass in the values on my toned canvas, mix up the big color masses I see, and then I’ll start my painting! I always try and work large to small.

And there you have it! I hope explaining my current process was somewhat illuminating. I still have an incredible amount to learn about painting, but I learn a little bit more each day that I do.

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