This spring, I used my iPad, and the app Procreate to develop some painting ideas for a commissioned beach-themed artwork. Painting digitally is helpful because you can work with the client to try out different ideas without actually applying paint to canvas. You can easily go back and remove the changes with just a click of a button. In this sketch, using the client’s comments, I lightened and softened the large areas on the right. Then I add more tan and reduced the darker areas. I thought you might like to see how the final painting turned out. To the left is the revised digital sketch.
The final painting “Nantucket Summer” is now happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.
However, I was thrilled to have my artwork featured on the cover of Wild Apple’s Art Decor February 2019 Issue. Wild Apple Graphics is a B2B art publisher and art licensor working with manufacturers, retailers, and designers of decorative home products and wall decor.
It’s so fun to see my artwork in a home setting. These two original paintings are still available if you’re interested. See them in detail on my website.
One suggestion to working faster and looser is to on start multiple paintings at one time. I use the same paper size and color palette to work up four different versions. That way, I can just move from painting to painting, adding a little here and there, letting it evolve more naturally. Everything is a little less important or precious so I don’t get as frustrated when a painting isn’t working out. I just move on to the next one and come back later with a fresh perspective.
If you follow the lunar New Year, you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) is hosting a really fun exhibition, the Red Envelope Show, that opened last night. This exhibition is an homage to the red celebration envelopes the Chinese community distributes during the Lunar New Year. As this is the Year of the Pig, I painted some cute portraits of pigs just peeking up from the bottom of six envelopes. There are almost 1,000 envelopes on display (and for sale) illustrated by myself, other professional artists, and local school children. Many envelopes (including mine) include a special gift inside the envelope for only the buyer to see. Don’t wait to see the show as it closes on Jan. 27. A special thank you to Bert Chau of @grumpybert who curated the exhibition. ⠀#redenvelopeshow
Opening Reception: SAT, JAN 5, 5-7 PM⠀
Gallery Dates: SAT, JAN 5 – SUN, JAN 27⠀
Gallery Hours: SAT & SUN 12-5 PM; weekdays.
I work with a fantastic licensing company, Wild Apple. They recently gave me a concept idea they thought I might enjoy working on. It was to make an abstract jewel-colored forest that included loose and botanical marks. It was such a fun and whimsical project to work on. I’ve sent the two paintings to Wild Apple for their approval. Hopefully, this is what they had in mind.
Working with a “prompt” reminded me of working on my MFA. The teacher would give you guidelines but with enough freedom to make the artwork your own. I love working this way with the seed of an idea that I make blossom into a work of art. I’m looking forward to working on the next concept idea Wild Apple sends my way.
Have you ever wondered what is involved when commissioning a painting? Let me take you through the steps of how it works with me.
Step 1: It starts with a simple conversation about what the client is looking for in a painting. This includes the subject matter, size of work, color scheme, and general style and mood. I like for the clients to look through my current and past artwork to see if there are any particular paintings or color schemes that appeal to them. Price is also discussed.
I visit the location the painting is going to be in, notice the other artwork hanging near it, plus the color of furnishings in the room. While I don’t believe good art has to match the sofa, there’s no reason it shouldn’t if that’s important to the client.
Step 2: I show the client several thumbnail sketches of composition ideas to pick from. These simple visuals help the client discover if they like a dynamic or more soothing mood to their painting. We discuss and revise the composition as needed
Step 3: I work up a couple of different color schemes using the composition they picked. We discuss them and I take notes on changes to incorporate into the final painting.
By this point, we’ve determined a concept, composition, and color scheme. Hopefully, everyone is comfortable with the direction of the painting. This is when I ask them to sign a contract and make a 50% non-refundable deposit.
In the pictures below, the client liked a previously sold painting of mine but wanted one that was bigger and a different color scheme which included an array of pinks. I used Photoshop to mock up a couple versions to narrow down just how MUCH pink they wanted.
Step 4: About 70% of the way through, I’ll send an update with the image to the client inviting them to review and make comments and suggestions. At this point, it’s still easy to edit and make adjustments. I do this again at the 95% completion point to let them make any final changes.
Step 5: When the painting fully completed, I sign, photograph, and varnish it. Once dry, it is shipped to its new home with the final invoice.
Communication is key. I encourage it throughout the entire process. I choose to communicate via email because it gives the client time to review and live with the work without being put on the spot for an immediate response. I’ve also used FaceTime so we could view the painting in real time while making adjustments.
What a great response I got last month for showing how I created the painting Women’s March (yes, I finally named it). I thought I would give you another peek at the process of creating a recent painting titled Communities. My concept was to illustrate the importance of the communities in our lives.
All of us are part of not one, but many communities. These communities might include our workmates, church group, country of origin, weekend soccer team, or book club friends. We often share common interests, goals, or beliefs. No one person has the same community as another, yet we each rely on and are strengthened by our bonds with our communities. Imagine what could be accomplished if we brought all our communities together to work for a common goal that benefitted all?
Step 1: I started by incorporating some of the poured acrylic work that I’ve been exploring for the last six months. I poured a half a dozen puddles of paint with a few drops of silicone mixed in onto a large canvas. I tipped or spread (using a cake spatula) these poured paint mixtures. When dry, I carved out ring and circle shapes by painting over these puddles with an acidic, olive color.
Step 2: I printed coordinating papers using my Gelli Plate. I stamped and stenciled patterns on some of them and then cut out more ring and circle shapes. I collaged them onto the canvas.
Step 3: I added the large white areas by using a squeeze bottle of titanium white paint with Floetrol (a paint additive that helps paint flow more easily), creating these looping circles and large white areas. I eliminated the orange ring as it was too distracting.
Step 4: The painting lacked a full range of values, and the shapes just seemed to float on the canvas. So I added a darker green color to provide contrast and give the artwork a bit of weight at the bottom.
Step 5: Needing more edginess, I flipped the painting 180º putting the most substantial area at the top. This change created tension because the top elements now feel as though they might succumb to gravity at any moment. I repeated the dark green color in other areas for balance and movement. I added a very subtle dot pattern to the plain green background to break up this open space, then signed it. C’est fini!
I thought it would be fun to show you a step-by-step process of how I created one of my new artworks that will be hanging in my upcoming the show.
Step 1: I usually start with an idea. In this case, it was illustrating the 3 R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Next, I start by drawing some little thumbnails (small, loose pencil sketches around 3″ x 3″ each), and picked one to use as a compositional reference.
I liked this sketch because I wanted to make a painting with lots of open space. I’m working on adding more neutral areas in my work to give the viewers’ eyes places to rest among the chaos!
Step 1: Thumbnail sketch
Step 2: Beginning with three R’s, I added grids of rectangles, collaged in papers from my old textbook “Applied Mechanics for Engineers”, and scribbled on some formulas to the canvas for the math part. The reading and writing parts were represented by font alphabets.
The concept was to place most of the activity at the top third of the canvas, leaving the bottom two-thirds much calmer. As I started blocking in the major areas of color, I already knew that I wasn’t comfortable with all that open space. I felt the whole thing looked too simplistic.
It was time to rethink my design.
Step 2: Block in shapes
Step 3: First, I turned the painting 90˚ counter-clockwise and divided the large empty space into thirds. I gave the top and bottom sections a light background and the middle section a darker background.
Step 3: Fill in the empty space
Step 4: I added organic shapes to soften the hard geometric lines gridding the painting and fill all that empty space. I reversed the values of the “blobs” every time they crossed from one gridded section to another. I accidentally created a shape that spelled “Hi” in the upper right corner. It was distracting, so I revamped it.
I gave up on the whole three R’s concept and just let the painting guide me to what it needed.
Step 4: Paint the “blobs”
Step 5: And then I stopped. It wasn’t done but I was unsure what else it needed. So I just stared at it and stared at it. For three weeks!
Step 6: Finally, I got the idea to add some dots to give the painting some interesting movement and the focal point it was missing. I turned the painting 90˚ again, painted a zillion dots, and finally, the painting was finished.
I usually have a name in mind before I start a painting, but this one has eluded me. Does anyone have a good idea for a title for this 3′ x 3′ painting?
Most artists have favorite colors and use them often in their paintings. That said, it’s important for artists to grow outside their comfort zones. One way is to use colors or materials that we wouldn’t normally use. For me, nothing is further outside my comfort zone than the color pink. I hate pink. I don’t own a single item in that color. Not a sock, an earring, or a hair barrette. I have systematic banned pink from my life.
However, last week my husband bought me a case of pink golf balls. PINK GOLF BALLS! Who thinks of these things? And it got me thinking too. What would be a really hard art challenge for me? You’ve got it…using a lot of pink in a painting.
So here it is, my newest painting…INTERSTELLAR. While I am not ready to hang this in my own home, I’ve warmed up to pink a little more. Enough that I’ll be giving those pink golf balls a try!