Studio Diaries #1: Regina

Regina takes us through her painting process as she begins and meddles with a new piece.

By Regina Sinnott


I should start off by announcing that I haven’t “written” since “college” and I’m afraid of this. I make paintings about the feeling of nostalgia. This is the slow evolution of a piece I’m painting, working title “Braids in the Dining Room on Parkhurst Road.”

January 13, 2022

This painting began when I was looking through old photos with my aunt this past January. We came across this photo of me braiding my aunt Ellen’s hair at the dining table in the house I grew up in.

January 18, 2022

I started with a study of my sweet little child face. I used oils on a six-inch panel primed with clear gesso. As a frequent self-portaiter, I have gotten used to drawing and painting the proportions of my adult face, and it was an odd exercise to study my childhood features so closely and notice the ways they’ve changed and stayed the same. It was oddly emotional to recall this time in my life: I was ten years old, had recently moved from CT to NY, and was struggling to make friends. I was painfully shy and hated being photographed, but for some reason in this image, I locked eyes with the camera to proudly show off my work. I’m hiding behind Ellen, whose hair I had just braided, and I’m hiding behind a chunk of hair that covers a third of my face, but I’m choosing to be seen.

February 16, 2022

A month went by where I did not go to the studio. I was caught up with my several part-time jobs, the effort of maintaining a social life, and managing my mental health. I found myself stuck in the cycle of being too tired to go to the studio and then feeling like a fraud loser fake artist failure. And being too tired to do anything about it! Classic February.

Eventually the day came where I mustered up the courage to face myself (yay?) and I found myself back at the studio. I had a 22-inch square canvas laying around and samples of house paint from Home Depot in a few bright colors left over from another project. I love using house paint. In high school and through college, I painted set pieces and backdrops for a children’s theatre. We used house paint and mixed colors in Solo cups. It was always messy, but it’s how I learned to paint form and dimension.

After a quick sketch to flesh out my composition, I blocked in the basic shapes:

March 2, 2022

Today’s work began by drawing in facial features with fine-point Sharpie. At this point, I was trying to stay experimental and loose and I wasn’t exactly sure which direction the piece would go in. I ended up re-painting over my face because I didn’t want to look at it anymore. I added a pattern to the green sweater, leaving the paint strokes loose and messy. I then added colorful rendering to Ellen’s face, Sharpied in a sketch of the background, and called it a day.

March 7, 2022

The first thing I did was gesso over Ellen’s face. I liked the use of color, but the piece felt very incohesive, so I decided to take a step back and think about how to proceed. While discussing this piece and the direction it was headed in with my studiomates, I remember saying, “I didn’t complete a single thought before diving into this painting.” It was all over the place, so I spent some time journaling, thinking, and feeling. After coming up with a game plan, I worked on rendering the objects on the table, each in their own color.

March 8, 2022

I added dimension to the tablecloth and added the floral pattern because floral tablecloths elicit a specific nostalgia, reminding me of my grandparents’ condo where we always did Christmas Eve growing up. I painted over the Sharpie background from the previous day and added in texture on my sweater. There is work to be done on the bag, and I suppose I’ll have to take some more time and figure out where to take this next.

March 18, 2022

As I’m writing this it’s been 10 days since I’ve gotten down to the studio. I’ve been babysitting and checking coats and smiling at customers at my retail job. It’s hard to express the feeling of letting yourself down by being preoccupied with Real Life. If I was perfect, I would go to the studio every time I had a day off. I sleep instead. It’s hard being imperfect!

April 1, 2022

I showed this piece in all its unfinished glory at an Open Studios that my studiomates and I hosted. I like the way this piece ties in with my body of work. I look forward to finishing it eventually, but for now I’m going to sit with it until I gain clarity on how to continue.