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...

Monday, November 5, 2018

In Situ

I've been putting together a file of pictures people have sent me of my work in their homes...

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Six more little paintings 8" x 8" X 2" deep, for the Mountain Heritage show this weekend. Mostly acrylic paint, some collage pieces, black and white charcoal, oil pastel. 

When I apply gesso to these wood cradle boards to start the paintings, I score the surface before it dries with the end of the brush handle, making sweeping lines and scribbley shapes. When the gesso has dried, I scrape on thin layers of neutral color, like ochre and raw umber. The scored lines show up darker because they have filled with pigment. I add other colors over that surface and the abstract, random lines and shapes that result are what I use to find the landscape features and figures. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Twelve small paintings

Twelve paintings ranging in size from 10" X 10" to 12" X 12" on 2" deep wood panels with the image wrapped around the edges as usual. They will go with me to the Mountain Heritage show in Jefferson County, WV next weekend. No collage in these, just paint and charcoal, some oil pastel. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Some more new paintings for a show in Gaithersburg

These ten paintings are headed for a show at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, MD. I will be with four other very interesting artists in this mixed media exhibit. (see postcard at bottom of post)

Each painting is on a 2" deep wood panels, with acrylic, painted and hand-printed papers, charcoal, and oil and chalk pastel. The images continue around the sides.

40" X 40" This one was inspired by a little visitor to the barn. We had a guinea hen adopt us for a few weeks, but, sadly, she has moved on. We got quite attached to her and she was great at eating up bugs! She would gently peck the flies from the horses legs and fly masks. And I miss her running commentary of chirps and whistles. 

Birdtown, 40" X 40" 

Giraffe and Goat Visit Birdtown, 20" X 20" 

Cat Visits Birdtown Beach, 20" X 20"

Birdtown Park, 24" X 18"

Birdtown Friends, 24" X 18"

Two Horses Visit Birdtown, 24" X 24"

Birdtown Beach, 24" X 24"

Birdtown Northend, 24" X 18"

Birdtown Pond, 24" X 18"

Here are some of the paintings at beginning stages with layers of paint and texture. I'd started to find images on some of them, drawn in with charcoal. 

On the bottom of the left panel you might see where I found the guinea hen. I called her Mutt because she had shown up with Jeff, who moved on the next day. Later I changed her name to Jean Louise having just listened to To Kill a Mockingbird on CD. It fit her better, but her nickname remained Mutt...not Scout. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Ten new paintings

The medium and small pieces in this group started as compositions taken from my machine sketches, just to give me a structure, or starting point, for the images. 

All are on 2" deep wood cradle boards with the images wrapping around the sides.

I'll take this new batch of paintings with me for the second Chautauqua show next weekend.

 40" X 40" 
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, painted paper collage
(painted over painting in last post of birds on brown background)

 20" X 20"
Acrylic, charcoal, painted paper collage

 24" X 18" 
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, painted paper collage

 20" X 20"
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, painted paper collage

The next six are all 10" X 10", acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, painted paper collage