Commissions, from my perspective, are a collaborative process. I love interviewing the client(s) to glean what they have in their mind’s eye and then transforming that onto canvas. They know, by viewing my paintings, that I will be percolating their ideas in my voice and style. Their requirements ~ size, color, subject, etc. ~ also need to be taken into consideration.
Melissa is a usability consultant, living in Michigan, who loves to write, particularly at night. She wants a custom painting in her office that inspires her with a sense of color and calm, takes her to memories of Italy and beaches in North Carolina, and includes Mango trees and patterns from her husband’s homeland of Ghana.
Her green office walls are dominant and an element I will incorporate into her custom painting.
We artists love to fill blank walls, so I was excited to begin once I knew that the canvas would be 30″H x 48″W. I ordered a custom wrapped canvas with aluminum supports. The latter assures that the frame will not warp no matter the environment it is in, and is also lighter than the typical birch panels I use ~ making shipping easier.
After receiving reference photos from Melissa for her custom painting, paint chips and doing my own online research, I began conceiving the painting. Here is the 3″x5″ preliminary sketch.
Once Melissa approved it, I then asked her if she could handle some ambiguity as what the shapes and patterns will be surrounding the moon and water landscape. She said, “Yes.” I continued by creating a color palette for her to approve. You can see the ranges of greens, with blues, purples and warm oranges.
After answering Melissa’s questions, I then proceeded to transfer the preliminary sketch onto a larger sized tracing paper. I made a few changes, such as adding more stairways and moved the mango tree trunk to the right.
Unfortunately, the sketch and grid lines on the canvas are difficult to see here, but I needed to keep them light so that the lines do not bleed through the paint that I ultimately apply. I am using a watercolor crayon for the drawing.
I like to do some pre-mixing of my colors. Here is my working palette before applying paint.
This next image shows you the underpainting ~ the first layer. My colors are nearly always brighter at this stage because it is possible to dull a bright color but not the reverse.
The first layer of my moon paintings usually includes oranges or reds because the warm underpainting gives the moon sky more depth. Here are more painting tips for painting moon light.
This layer must dry before I apply more paint. There are also a couple of areas of color at the bottom of the canvas that I am not liking.
Can you see the potential in this custom painting?