Studio Diaries 

WELCOME TO THE STUDIO. COME IN, TAKE A SEAT, WATCH ME MAKE THINGS/TRY TO piece together MY BRAIN/read and write and build a practice

By Naava guaraca



I’ve been collecting reference images from the collections of family film photos that exist in droves in my mom’s house. To both my dismay and constant excitement, none of them are organized, and all of them are fun and archival. I want most of these larger paintings that use multiple reference images to look like large collages. This one is going to be 4 ft x 5 ft and combine a bunch of different images, mainly of playgrounds and birthday parties. I’ll speak more to the conceptual ideas behind these two focuses at some point later.

Here’s a small beginning sketch for one part of it, as well as some piece of the photos I’m using:


I’m working on this bigger piece (3 ft x 4 ft) as a very belated birthday gift for my girlfriend. It’s a landscape piece of a photo I took in Arizona last year—one of the places we fell in love, and one of the places we hold near. She loves the sky, so I’m focusing a lot of attention on the shadows and shapes in the clouds.

Here are the colors I’m using:

And here’s a start:

I primed this one with a thin layer of burnt sienna and a lot of turpenoid, which I’ve never done before, but I’ve heard great things about. Something about the way white affects your perception of color. I liked doing it; I’ll probably continue to do it in the future. The turpenoid layer also dries fast, on account of it being mostly noxious fumes and very little paint. I’m excited about this! Kind of a first time doing anything strictly representational without too much creative liberty taken before even starting the piece.


Here’s what’s been going on in my brain lately:
  • started a new painting in the past few days, a gift painting for my girlfriend of a photo I took while we were on a road trip together last year.
  • I’m one work session away from being done with this painting, which I’ve titled Night Cafe (wink wink, Van Gogh) and my friend Carla has already bought from me! I’m forever indebted to her kindness and baking skills. Every time I bite into one of her fresh focaccia loaves I’m reminded that some things, in fact, are still sacred.
  • My best friend is at home in another state and I have a 4 ft x 5 ft stretched/primed/ready canvas waiting for me at her studio when she gets back. A lot of it’s going to be green, and a lot of it will be birthday party imagery.


Spent some time at home today making drawings. I learned how to draw by taking figure drawing classes, drawing classes, drawing everything all the time. It was like a muscle I used all the time. It was all I did for years, until I felt perfect at it, until looking and translating was something I could do without thinking. I’ve felt the muscle lacking a little bit lately, and that’s only because I don’t do it as consistently as I used to. Since seeing the Cezanne drawing show at MoMA, I’ve felt drawn back to drawing (pun!), and I’m going to be doing as much more of it as I can. Here and there, if anything.


I’m starting to collect images of the reflections of things in windows. I think I’m going to start making a more specific set of paintings that focus on the reflections of illuminated objects in windows. One of the things I want to get better at is painting with colors that are darker in value. I’m really prone to mixing everything with white even just a little when I think a shadow appears lighter in certain areas, and I want to stop doing this. Here’s a collection of images I’ve started collecting:

General updates:

I just got a full time job which means I won’t have nearly enough time at the studio anymore. Stay tuned for smaller things, drawings here and there, afternoons in my sketchbook and hours spent reading in between taking customer service calls.

Book I’m currently reading: Funny Weather by Olivia Laing