Monday, March 19, 2012

A Commision......Deconstructed

I've been working of late on a commission painting. Not something I usually do as I don't seem to fit comfortably into the illustrator role, or someone who can be happy making someone else's vision come alive. This was a woman who came to me on the internet after repeatedly seeing my work in a gallery and liking my style so much she got in touch and asked if I would do a painting of her dog in MY style. I hemmed and hawed - afraid of disappointing someone when the end result doesn't look like their dog.
Fortunately she stressed how she chose me for my style and didn't want a 'portrait' but one of my paintings in the same style of any other I would make.
After accepting she asked if she could add her granddaughter and that really raised my fear factor. Again- just a figure in my style that is somehow reminiscent of the adorable little person who is her granddaughter.
So here's how it went:
She sent some pictures she'd taken and I tried going off those and then got really stuck. I realized I was trying to piece these together and do a portrait of a girl and dog I'd never seen. I just had these little phone-photos. And I don't do portaits. This is not my style and not what they asked for. If I tried to turn this into a painting it would have looked like someone trying to do a portrait, but not a very good one.
I ditched it and reminded myself 'my style'........
Next, a sketched I rather liked. I emailed it with fingers crossed and waited....They loved it. (thank god), but felt like the dog was still a bit too literal and not quite a quirky as the girl figure.
So I decided to try two different quick takes on how else I could portray the dog:

She liked this Dancing dog better and only asked that I go back to dog's face in the second sketch, to retain a bit more of his spirit. Then just some details, eye color, one of her granddaughter's actual dresses, stars, and a tail on the dog.
Starting on the painting. I play with arms a bit as at this stage I become afraid it may look static even though they are supposed to be dancing. I realize this is a really bad idea as they have put down a deposit and approved the final drawing. I can't change the painting.......
Ta da. It's finished and I feel much better about how it came along. A few people who happen to visit the studio all think "she'll love it!". (I'm still nervous) I send an email of it again cross fingers. At this point I really can't/don't want to have to change anything and the buyer is going to be in Ojai for a weekend to pick it up (She lives up north).
She LOVED it but, (please not the BUT......) I forgot the tail! I was so mad at myself. I calmed down and emailed, "hey really sorry, do you want to wait, and I can ship or...take it as is?" She wondered if I could add the tail and have it dry in time for her to pick it up. This is oil paint. It is Thursday morning. I just went for it. Painted it with as thin a layer that would cover (to speed drying time) and held my breath that in two days it would be dry enough to travel on a plane. It was fine. We all got lucky, and she even managed to take it on the plane. We were nervous they might not let her check it at 26 inches square.
Ahhhhhhhh. A happy ending.


Christine Brallier said...

Oh wow, love seeing your process and the end result is fabulous!

fran f said...

I LOVE this, chrissy!! but you've let the cat out-o-the bag (so to speak) commission, here i come ....

website design company said...

Such a great post-- so many of my thoughts were the same, and you put them into words. Thanks for your incredible flexibility!

Laura Marrero said...

I'm glad I finally looked at this, your blog, the process of the painting in the making. I am that woman, the one who commissioned the painting of Charlotte and Finn, my two most favorite "people". I do love the painting and will eventually pass it on to my grand daughter to help her always remember how special I think she is. By then Finn will be a memory, his spirit perfectly captured by Chris, happy tail and all! Thank you for agreeing to do this for us. We treasure it!
Laura Marrero