We Won! (Best of Portland)

Recently the studio was nominated for the Best Non-Gallery Art Space award by the readers of The Portland Phoenix. And we won! It's so cool to be recognized for what the studio adds to the community, especially in the first year in our new location. Thank you, Mainers, we love you too!

Modern Art for Teens Class Reception

We just wrapped up the winter/spring Modern Art Explorations for teens class. Abbeth Russel was our amazing instructor, and she led the class through 6 weeks of study of modern art movements. Each session included a short lecture and discussion followed by the creation of their own works that represented each movement.

These included...Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism

Check out some of the work they exhibited during their final class below! 



Great press and studio update from Mainebiz

I was grateful to receive a studio visit last week from writer Renee Cordes of Mainebiz magazine. Renee visited in August while the construction was still underway, and she wanted to check in to see the finished space and how everything is going. The article she wrote is linked below. I'm thankful for Renee's interest in the studio and in the Portland art scene in general, it always feels good to know that your passion and profession are valued and understood!

"I love my new space," she says. "It's really cool to have something that's designed for exactly what I do, and what I do is fairly unique."

That's the truth! Read the full article here

photo by Renee Cordes

photo by Renee Cordes

Gelatin Printmaking Workshop Recap

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to have artist/printmaker Rachel Church teach a class at the studio! The subject was gelatin prints, and it was too much fun. The class filled up quickly so we'll be doing this one again. Below are some photos from the class. Most people attending, save for maybe 2, had never used this medium before but the work they produced was incredible! 

Natalie pulling a gelatin ghost print...

The New Still Life Studio!

The renovation of the new studio is complete! 

After a big transformation we've created three full time artist studios and a fabulous classroom to share with the community. So many hands contributed to this project, and our Indiegogo campaign fundraising goal was met. I'm so grateful, happy and excited to finally be occupying this space. 

Check out the "after" shots below... and come visit us soon!

MaineBiz Article and Fundraising Update

In the News!

Still Life Studio and I were recently featured in an issue of MaineBiz! The article is wonderfully written and tells of how much help and support I've received from my community. It's a short but great read about what I've been up to and what this studio is about. 

In fundraising news...

We reached our goal of raising $12,500 toward making this new space a reality. Nearly 100 individual donors contributed to the campaign, and 25+ volunteers offered their sweat and muscle to help with the build-out. I'm so incredibly grateful and I can't wait to share the space with other artists! 

The fundraising video, in case you haven't seen it...

I hope to see you at the studio soon! 


Farmer's Market Flowers - Painting Workshop recap

Yesterday was a wonderful day of painting at the studio. We focused on editing, keeping it loose, using large brushes, and being playful with paint. Everyone did an amazing job!

Because of my upcoming move to a new studio it will be my last workshop held at Running With Scissors Artists Studios for awhile. It has been the perfect place to grow and learn, for my students and for me. 

Here are some pictures from the day...

Still Life Studio is MOVING!

It has long been my dream to open my own teaching/studio space, and the time has come. After 7 wonderful years of membership at Running With Scissors artist studios it's time for Still Life Studio to have its own home. 

I have signed a lease on a small commercial property in the West Bayside neighborhood of Portland, just a few blocks in each direction from Monument Square and Trader Joe's. The space will house a teaching space, my studio, and two other artist studios. In addition to the private lessons and workshops I currently offer, I'll be inviting other artists and instructors to use the space and to share their talents. The classroom will be also available for rent by the hour/day to artists or for holding workshops and events. 

A significant renovation is underway to build out the space to meet this goal and to update a tired property that has a lot of potential. I'm starting to document that process on Facebook, so please follow our page to see updates as we go. I'm hoping to open the doors by mid August. Soon I'll be sharing more info and opportunities to get involved. I can't wait for you to see it!


The space (and me) just after the lease was signed. 

The space (and me) just after the lease was signed. 

There's No Such Thing as Innate Talent

Here’s a secret: With very few exceptions, there’s no such thing as intrinsic artistic genius. It's a myth. 

There’s a sentiment I hear too often and one I’d love to see disappear. This comes in the form of phrases like, “I’m not artistic”, "I don’t have a creative bone in my body”, "I can’t paint” and/or "I have no talent”.  

This simply isn’t true. I have yet to meet one single person in my teaching career who was completely devoid of all artistic talent.

The biggest difference between those who have an easier time and those who struggle is experience, not talent. 

Many people have the misconception that artists just know how to draw or paint from memory or from a knowing place deep within them. There are exceptions, but most of us have to rely on practice, the use of reference materials, and the development of a critical eye that comes only with experience. 

A couple of examples...

I’ve never been an athlete or in any way geared toward feats of strength. But the primary reason for that isn’t due to the limitations of my body. If I were to start going to yoga four times a week it’s likely that within weeks I’d struggle less, enjoy it more, and feel more flexible and centered in my body. I don’t lack the “right" body for yoga (because there is no such thing), l’ve lacked a willingness to make it a priority.

Art, like yoga, is very accessible to all ages, minds, goals, and abilities. 

I also can’t play the guitar. I can’t play the guitar because I’ve chosen to center my creative focus on other things, not because I’m not musically gifted. If I took lessons, practiced, and built up my calluses, I’d be playing in less than a year. I may not be writing my own music and touring professionally, but I could play well enough to enjoy myself and express myself musically. And isn’t that the point?

If your dream is to become a professional artist then art school, apprenticeship, and/or professional development should be part of your plan. But...

If you want to express yourself creatively there are NO prerequisites! 

Show up. Occasionally for the fun of it or more often to improve your skills. That’s it. You are an artist.  

Oils and Acrylics; What's the Difference?

I am often asked about the differences between oil and acrylic paints. While every artist has their preference I'm going to try to answer this question as best as I am able. 

Acrylics work in a very similar way to oils, in that they are semi-opaque and can be applied in thin layers or thick impasto. At a very basic level, there are three main differences between oils and acrylics...

Dry time

Acrylics dry very quickly, so you can paint over areas that were wet only minutes ago. With oils it's harder to apply more paint to wet areas without smudging all the colors together. Direct painting in oils involves laying down wet paint next to wet paint, and requires a deft and deliberate hand. However, there are benefits to painting wet on wet, such as the ability to achieve soft edges. A shorter or longer dry time can work for or against you depending on the effects you are trying to achieve. 


Oil paints are made of pigment blended with oil (linseed, safflower, walnut, etc.). Acrylic paints are made of pigment blended with acrylic polymer emulsion (a synthetic resin). 


To thin oil paint you can add oil or a solvent such as turpentine or mineral spirits. To thin acrylic paint you can add water or an acrylic painting medium. There are countless mediums that can be added to each type of paint that vary the consistency, texture, transparency, and dry time of the paint. Brushes used with acrylic paint can be cleaned with water and a mild soap, and brushes used with oils can be cleaned with oil, mineral spirits, and/or a conditioning soap such as Murphy's Oil Soap or the Masters brush cleaner.  

There are other differences too. Acrylics don't require solvents or other painting mediums that some people are sensitive to, so they can be a better choice for anyone with allergies or chemical sensitivities.  However it's possible to use oil paints without solvents, and there are solvent free mediums on the market. 

Bottom line: They each have their advantages, and I enjoy working with both of them.

Did I leave anything out? What is your favorite medium and why? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Installation: Masterworks at Portland Museum of Art

Recently I was invited to contribute to the installation of signage for the new Masterworks exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art. My piece of the project was to paint the words "On Paper" in watercolor on large sheets of watercolor paper that would be hung in the entrance to the exhibit. It was an incredible creative idea by local designer Heidi Dikeman, and a nice departure from the traditional printed lettering. I had a lot of fun doing it and I think the result is wonderful. Check it out if you get to the PMA! It will be up until June 5th 2016.

Holiday Sale and Open Studios!

Still Life Studio is located inside of a wonderful studio building that is home to many working artists. Every year we have a holiday event where art available for purchase covers every surface and resident artists open their studios to visitors. It's a warm, festive, fun event and a great way to support the local art scene while giving yourself a great boost of creative energy. 

I will be in my studio all day and would love to see you. Please stop by to learn more about lessons, or just to say hi!

Saturday December 12th 10am-6pm. 250 Anderson St. Portland ME. 

New Website, New Business Name, New Blog!

My studio and teaching practice have been evolving over the years, and I decided it was time to give my business its very own name. Painting Lessons with Adria Moynihan Rusk is now Still Life Studio. 

Why the new name? I wanted to create a distinction between my own painting practice and the lessons I teach. This will help to keep both things in separate camps, while still being linked. I want Still Life Studio to continue to be a sanctuary for creative growth where personal attention is essential. A place for both learning and retreat from the daily grind. 

With this change comes a brand new website! I will be updating it frequently and I hope it will become a useful tool for anyone wanting to learn more about what I do. Of course if you have questions that aren't answered here, please contact me