Commissions can be hard because you are dealing with trying to paint someone else's idea. Even if the clients are as easy going as mine were on these paintings, you worry if they will like what you come up with. You worry if they have an idea of what they want and you may not even come close. Do you have things that you ask or ways that you go about balancing the clients idea with your artistic integrity?
The request was to paint the local Episcopal Church, Saint Paul's. I must admit, it is not the most interesting church facade in town to paint. It is kind of an odd pink and the client did not really like pink. Aside from that, they left it to me as to size and composition.
To work out my ideas I started with several pencil studies. Just simple value plans trying to work up an interesting design.
From there, I took the one that I thought showed the most promise and did a small oil study to work out color and alter the composition just a bit. I was combining two photos to get the design I wanted. Sometimes combining two photos can be harder than just using one.
"Saint Paul's Study", 6" x 8" oil on board, Frank Gardner © 2008
Looking at the small study, I felt that the facade was too pink. The pink that the client did not care for, and that the whole thing needed to be warmed up a bit. My idea was to stick to cooler colors for a calming mood. so to warm it up I switched to a burnt sienna toned canvas.
By letting some of that show through, I could use the same cooler, calming colors, and achieve a warmer, more inviting result.
Thinking that some of you might be interested in how I went about this one I snapped a photo after I blocked in most of the shadow colors. There is only one light family color, the light green to the left through the branches. I tried to link most of these shadow colors into one big design with a center of interest around the doorway. There is a general mid value shadow color and a few darker accents.
"Saint Paul's" in progress, 14" x 18", Frank Gardner © 2008
Next, I cut the silhouette of the church, doorway, architectural details of the door frame, sunlit grass, sky holes in the tree, with the light family colors. I spent some time adjusting back and forth between shadow and light colors after that, but the main job was done. The tweaking was to soften edges, adjust colors, cover the tone of the canvas where it was distracting. With a canvas toned with such a strong color you have to be aware that those orange bits are going to draw attention. If they are too many left in the wrong places it can really mess you up. If you get too picky and cover too much, you've lost what you were trying to achieve by using it in the first place.
"Saint Paul's" , 14" x 18" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2008
Here is the finished painting.
I am happy with how this one looks along side "Good Company". They may or may not hang near each other, but they are the same size and the large trees and the way they are painted tie them together nicely.
Boy, I turn my back for a minute and you've got four new paintings up- all beautiful. I came by to bestow upon you a little award (Arte y Pico) that came my way today, and which I'm charged with passing on to five other blogging artists I admire and who inspire me. Thank you for being so generous with sharing your thoughts about your painting. Come by for details if you like.
I was just on your blog writing you as this came in. How funny.
Thanks Susan. Much appreciated. It is great that you think of me in terms of those other great painters.
I have a whole set I can post now that I have shown them to my clients. Stop back tomorrow.
So lush! I want to lie down in the grass and hear the breeze in the trees - and hopefully some church bells.......... I actually really like the small study as well as the final, beautiful full painting. To my eye, the study has a fresh ease that conveys "rest" as well as the more considered final painting does. Regardless of my humble opinion, THANK YOU for sharing!!! And, congratulations on the Arte y Pico award - I'll have to go to Ms. Carlin's site and read about it. Whatever it is, you are certainly deserving of it, as you ARE "so generous with sharing your thoughts about your painting" - and generous about everything.
Commission paintings can be pretty nerve wrecking if the artist looks at all the possible pitfalls which could occur. But the main thing is, presumably, the client is familiar with your style(that's why you were asked). You gave it a lot of careful thought and came up with a great painting!
Love the use of the toned canvas.
Encantada de conocerte, Nice too meet you, 1) your work its so good!, you palette...OMG, really love it.
I'll be back for more
by the way, your boat, the little one, es increible.
really like how you turned that pink around with that orange toned canvas...i can't take my eye off the church door, really beautiful. this this painting will hang very nicely with the camino painting.
Your opinion counts as much as anyone else's! and I appreciate hearing it.
Hi Dean. Very good point. I DO tend to look at the pitfalls, like maybe they wont like it. But you are so right. If they know my style that is why they asked.
I think that working on several options is my way of freeing myself from the what if they dont like it trap.
Thanks for the comments!
Hola Miss Pil. Me da mucho gusto.
Supongo que veniste del blog de Alicia. Vi tu dibujo hoy, y tengo que decir que es uno de mis favoritas. Vas a ganar el libro. Ni modo, voy a tener que comprar uno :o)
Tienes muchas cosa muy interesantes en tu blog. Despues vengo a ver lo demas.
Desculpe mi Espanol. Esta un poco mal escrito.
Hi Christine. Thanks. I'm glad you can't take you eye off the door. That's what I was hoping for. At least that general area.
Oy - commissions are great fun sometimes, and completely miserable sometimes. I've learned that I have to have the client agree that I work completely from my own reference material, and that I have the final say on composition etc (I did a commissionm once where the guy wanted me to keep adding things - a stream and some rocks in the foreground, some pine trees on the left... in the end, it wasn't a good painting, and I should never have let that happen).
I love how you punched up the mood so much between the study and the painting here - love the light on the second one, and how you've made the pink of the church so warm. I could stare at this painting all day!
Great explanation of why you chose the orange-toned ground, and great results. Full of light and air--love that dancing brush of yours.
Hi Stacey. Thanks for adding your thoughts on commissions. Your story about the client wanting to add more stuff hit home. I had a couple do that to me once. It really turned me off to commissions, but I realize not everyone is like that.
I joked with my wife after that incident that I was going to do a painting and title it "The Commission". It would be a popular street scene with every Mexican cliche that I could think of crammed in there.
I agree with all your sentiments at the beginning, Frank. I never do commissions..never know whether they really like them or not. I only paint things I want to...amd then see if they sell, and if not, I give them away as presents :)
Hey Pardner . . .
Checking in. Fires aren't hurtin' us now, but there were some worries a few weeks ago. I got some catchin up to do before I can deliver another 'stunner' . . .which might take years! . . . ;-)
Meanwhile, I am diggin' your stuff!
good choice to make the church a warm coral instead of the coolish pink. trees nice and loose too.beautiful.
the left finger is not broken and i'm right handed so no worries. i did a 12x24 intercoastal waterway today ( image on blog) just so i wont make excuses over the holidays not to paint!
glad your back to posting regularly again... i missed you buddy!
Hello wildlife gardener. It is nice to hear from you again.
Thanks for your thoughts on the commissions. I am about the same. If I can't talk them out of it, and the subject is something that I'm willing to paint, I'll take commissions once in a while.
This group seemed like a fun challenge.
Hi Mike B. Glad the fires are not near you right now. Keep your brush cleared from around the house.
Glad the finger is not broken.
I'll check out the 12x24.
I have a bunch more to post and then it will be spotty for a few weeks. We're going on our summer vacation soon.
Thank you Frank for always teaching, I appreciate it. I really like seeing the difference it made to tone your canvas with this warm color and allowing it to show through. It made such a difference in the feel of the piece.
Wow super wow!! How's that for a review? ;o)
What a wonderful painting Frank! I am fascinated by 2 things in this particular. First how perfectly that underpainting color works here allowing the pink and greens, usually opposite in the color wheel to be so close together now, in harmony instead of contrasting. I love it!!
And second is the light. The light on the grass is perfect! Soo perfect! The way you resume it in bold, precise and single strokes is brave and brilliant my friend! :o)
What a difference in overall temperature between the study and the painting done on a warm toned canvas! I always learn something here. ¡Gracias!
You're welcome Barb. Glad to do it and it helps ME to write it down.
More on tones later.
Thanks for the review Alicia : )
You do an excellent job of picking up on things in my paintings. I appreciate that.
Que bueno Silvina! Me da mucho gusto!
You are so right! You have judiciously worked in the orange amongst the greenery. Love the warm facade and entrance.
Sure want to thank you for introducing us all to Colin Page (hope I'm not repeating myself here). Talk about a virtuoso with color!
Hi David. Thanks.
Oh, and glad to have turned to Colin and anyone else who did not know his work.
Have you been checking on his journal to see all the new stuff?
Love the feeling of warm light here, Frank, along with the fresh, clean brush strokes. You sure do make it look easier than it is...
Thanks Faye. It's not easy, but it sure is fun.
Wonderful comments. Such an interesting lesson so well described.
You are kickin' it Frank!
Thanks again Mary!
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