I was recently hired to do a commissioned painting for some wonderful patrons, and I thought it would be fun to show you some of the process. Every artist has her own process… this a little of mine!
The clients had some ideas on themes, styles and colors they liked, but they weren’t entirely sure what they wanted and had never commissioned art before. I began by working on some formats and sketches based on their interests and the space the final piece would hang. We settled on this sketch of a Mediterranean landscape:
I began by transferring the sketch to canvas, and painting in the values for reference. I do allow for the freedom to change my mind, but I try to at least start with the agreed-upon sketch!
Then I start adding color. I try not to get too caught up in the end result. This is all underpainting and I’ve found that the more time I spend playing around at this phase, the more interesting the end piece is. I got too involved to remember to take more photos, but I used stamps, layers of bright color and texture, a little collage and messy brushwork to build interest in this phase.
When I thought I was far enough along, I showed it to the client. Since they live near me, we could look at it in their space for better evaluation.
We decided on less yellow and blue, more purples and reds, including a change from sunflowers to some kind of climbing rose bush. They also decided they’d like a more realistic sunset, with only 1/2 the sun showing. This input is really important because they have to live with the piece, and I want them to be happy! It’s hard to know what you want without something solid to look at so I always allow points for evaluation and reasonable change in the process. Here’s where our decisions lead us… I really liked the new roses!
This was really close, but we still decided to pull some of the orignal blues back into the water, lighten the sky and calm some of the turbulence in the sea. The final result… ta da!