Though Spring is officially days away, another snowstorm heads to New Hampshire. But a persistent winter can’t stop thoughts of greener days ahead. Throughout New England maple syrup-ers have hung sap buckets and will be firing up their sugar houses. In Vermont, the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce’s annual Spring Auction will feature painted sap buckets, depicting the work of select artists. My contribution (below) is headed to Woodstock today (where this next storm is supposed to be its worst), along with “Sap Season” (48 x 38), which is headed to Woodstock Fine Art.
Just completed for a Boston couple. Delivering to Rowes Wharf, Boston, next week…
“Below Treeline” : 60 x 40 : oil on canvas
It’s an honor for any artist to be asked to do commissioned work. I love them, and find great satisfaction in working with collectors on pieces painted to various parameters they suggest. More than a few artist friends make a practice of never doing commissions. I guess they don’t like being told what to do.
My approach to them is fairly unique, and those with whom I work, tend to find the process as creative and fun as I do. It’s a collaboration…no one tells anyone what to do, the piece is the outcome of an equally creative process between buyer and me.
Because I have three commissions currently underway, and several completed in the past few months, I thought the topic a good one for a post…
The sketch below is a current commission, underway for a highly creative and successful Boston architect, who spent hours poring over my work to find elements he and his wife like best about various pieces.
I met the couple at one of my galleries and discussed their notes… preferred color palette, compositional elements, overall feel, etc. It was a great exchange. And it’s exciting to approach a painting knowing the finished piece will be the outcome of multiple aesthetics, melded into one. And if it doesn’t appeal to the buyer, but is a theme and is painted they way I would paint it anyway, I try again.
Another commissioned piece, below, was done for a buyer in NYC who had seen several pieces he liked but had hoped to find one of this composition with this color palette. Since my approach to color is often dramatically deviated from the palette of the actual scene, working up a composition along such guidelines is a natural extension of the painting process.
Another architect-commissioned work, below, deviates a little from this process, but simply because the venue was so unique. Done a couple years ago, this piece was painted at the request of the architect who had designed this beautiful new building for a local college in Boston’s North Shore. The architect designed the wide, expansive bank of windows to provide a view into this student-centric building, and was bothered that the wall seen through the windows would be blank. Because the school’ logo is a lighthouse beacon, I suggested a lighthouse theme, in a long horizontal format. It both tied in with the school’s logo, as well as the coastal scenery of that part of the North Shore (though the lighthouse was inspired by one I’m very familiar with on the Vineyard.)
The top lighthouse image below was the piece, as I originally painted. Because I rarely, if ever, include figures in my work, this piece contained elements I often include…open space, solitary trees, light.
But because this was a unique collaboration for a very specific location, it was important to the architect and client school, that the painting contain figures, to represent the students at the college, so a rework was done, and the piece below was chosen as the final work.
The finished painting was photographed professionally, and turned into digitized panels, 8-feet by 4-feet wise, assembled on the wall to create a mural effect.
Once installed, this nightime photograph was shot to show the new installation, and how a viewer on the outside would not be drawn to the space by something more than a blank wall seen through the windows. Fun project!
Quite a few artist friends refuse to do commissions. I’ve done a few in the past that didn’t work out, for both the buyer and me, and I’ve learned this was because the desired piece was more about a scene the buyer wished to turn into a painting (in one case, a wedding venue, and in a more recent request, a favorite trumpet player). I’d rather pass on a commission, than to not deliver what the buyer envisioned. The best way to assure this–for me, anyway–is to invite the buyer to be an equal part of the creative process. When that happens the collaboration, and it’s resulting outcome, is a success for all.
Happy New Year! As the first photo post of 2014, the new year is looking bright already with new gallery representation in June, and several commissions under way. Recently in New London, at the beautiful Banks Gallery, where “North Woods” — a 36 x 48 recently completed piece– now hangs prominently in the main gallery.
With a blizzard forecast for later this week, and stretchers for new canvases arriving tomorrow, the first few weeks of the new year will be spent mostly in the studio… and new work placements will be socialized and emailed soon.
Happy and healthy 2014 to all!
With winter approaching, summer feels far in the past, and too far off in the future. Having completed a commission and a new piece for a new gallery, felt it was time to do a summer piece, which prompted this quick sketch of a scene I encountered a summer or two ago in Provincetown. “Beach Day” will be underway soon, on a large 52 x 52 canvas. If you can’t have a beach day, might as well paint one.