Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Evolution of a Painting ~ A Commissioned Work for Ann and David

In August I received an email from Ann and David. I had met them at a show a month before. After seeing my work they had gone to my website and became interested in having a piece for their living room. When one they picked from the website had already been sold, and was a bit larger than they were looking for anyway, I suggested they commission a painting to match their size requirement and any other specifications. I told them they could choose pieces on my website that they liked and I could use elements from each to come up with an image just for them. I also referred them to Tim and Jill (with Tim's permission). Tim had commissioned a painting for Jill last year (post 12/22/17) using the same process of choosing aspects of previous paintings. 



Ann and David agreed to a custom painting. They suggested the motifs of birds, trees, leaves, stones and ponds, and chose three paintings from my website to give me an idea of what they were looking for.

They liked the soft reds and birds in this painting...

...the silhouetted bird and colors of this one...

...and the trees in this one...

They had specified the size of 38" X 40". I sanded and gessoed the wood panel and started with a layer of thin paper for texture. (Ann had expressed concern about the need for framing and I had reassured her that with the 2" deep wood panels I use there is no need because the sides are painted.) When I tried this first attempt I was thinking of their colors and the birds from the first painting they had chosen, the ponds and stones and leaves, using collage for much of the detail. This is what I came up with. I sent them the image thinking that it wasn't quite there yet, but at least it was a starting point for their feedback.

Ann very generously started her feedback saying that they liked the colors, the pond and trees, the style and the mixed media approach, but that the birds were too large and sinister looking. (Of course they were! What was I thinking?) She suggested making them smaller, with softer colors and more like herons, which they see often where they live. She and David also wanted more putty green and darker natural green.

So I tried again, painting over the black birds, adding more of the putty and darker greens. But this time the birds were too realistic for the style of the painting, and the one in the front was still too big. Because the birds in my paintings are generally stylized and certainly not specific, I was having trouble figuring out how to include herons in a style that was compatible with the rest of the painting. I never even showed them this stage.

In the meantime, Ann sent me a picture of their living room, showing where the painting was going to go. This was an enormous help. I could see the colors of the room as well as the style of furnishings and get a better sense of what was going to be appropriate for that space.

I had already toned down the blue in the sky and water and that worked better with the subtle colors of the room. It also meant glazing over the trees that were there, so I was able to add more trees over the ones that had been pushed into the background creating more depth. The birds are painted in a sketchy way, matching the style of the painting, but coming off recognizably as herons. The light yellow grasses were added for depth, surface interest and texture.

I sent Ann and David an image of this version and hoped for the best. When they saw it they asked if they could see it in person before committing, so I shipped it to them on spec. They loved it, bought it, and here it is in situ...

1 comment:

Susan Baldwin said...

It looks amazing!!! Perfect and wonderful!