I recently interviewed a new client about creating a piece of art to hang in a cottage on her property. She is in the process of building an event venue with several amenities, including overnight accommodations in the original homestead on her property.
I was excited to meet her to discuss this project for several reasons. I love the mountains and the drive up to her place is gorgeous. It takes me about 45 minutes to get there, so I have time to decompress, enjoy the mountain and pastoral views, and put my thoughts in order for ongoing projects.
The cottage, where this project will hang looks amazing after the remodel and Sherri has really put all of her interior decorating skills on display. It will be an honor to have a piece of art hanging in the space for her guests to enjoy.
As you can see, the composition changed from the first group of concept sketches. During our second in-person interview, with a sketch on the scale of the commissioned painting, we made some changes in the arrangement of key elements. I had gone over my ideas for the changes while driving up for the interview, because I was not happy with the initial composition. Sherri agreed to the changes and requested some additional elements. I prefer to work out any changes the client wants at this stage in order to avoid more difficult alterations later in the process.
As you can see in the second set of photos, I have an industrial sized light table that makes it easy to work on large scale compositions without having to shift papers around. This allows me to see the entire composition and eliminates changes that might occur due to shifting the composition around on a smaller surface.
Because I work very graphically in the initial stages of a concept design, I often draw the individual elements separately, then combine them in multiple ways on the light table before making a decision about composition and combining them in the final sketch. Once the sketch is completed, I send it off for approval. Next, I make a clean inked rendering that is usually a graphic outline of all of the elements in place within the composition. This can later be photo-copied for transfer to the canvas or wood panel.
My last submission to the client before setting up the canvas is a full color study, to scale, usually rendered with markers. This gives the client a general idea of the overall feel of their project. At this stage, they can ask for more accurate samples of color or changes in areas where they do not like a specific color. I rarely need to make changes at this stage because I take extensive notes during our interviews and ask for clarification through online communications when necessary.
Because this particular project involves a cut paper layer, I have included paper swatches along the borders of the color composition to give Sherri an idea of how the patterns will line up with specific subjects in the composition. I also sent her some photos of the scrapbook papers juxtaposed with her ink rendering and color composition, in order to help her visualize the pattern showing through the paint layers of her project.
Because the finished painting will hang in the dining area of the cottage, I am cutting this layer of paper to mimic the subway tiles in the adjoining kitchen.
This is going to be a special project for both of us, because many of our common interests are being captured in the design. I’m hoping to have time to make some additional plein air and alla prima studies on the property as reference for the project and inspiration for future paintings.