Updated: Feb 3
I want to share what was perhaps the perfect experience, for an interior designer and I, in creating a large, customized landscape commission. Over the years, I’ve done several commissions for collectors and interior designers. “Uncharted” pictured above, has to be my all time favorite not just to paint, but the whole experience was great for both of us.
The interior designer approached me with the request “can you make a painting based off of this photo”? What was important to her was it was monochromatic (black and white), and she loved the misty, foggy feeling and reflections on the water. Emotionally, it evoked serenity, a quiet feeling and mood that perfectly complemented sophistication of the room. She knows my work and painting style; I have an affinity for painting large, sensual landscapes and sky scenes that are all about light and atmosphere, so from the start, this was an ideal assignment. I took the elements of the photo that were important to her, and created my own composition. This was the perfect balance of client inspiration, knowing my style, and giving me enough freedom to create a work of art, not just “copy something” (which I simply don’t do!).
She provided fabric and wallpaper samples. This was invaluable, because I had, in hand, the exact colors needed to create a painting with a palette that would complement the room but didn’t make it “matchy-matchy”. I’m a color geek, and obsess over the color harmonies, values and temperatures in my paintings. And seeing the textures of her samples helped immensely.
I received a good, clear picture of the room and the space where the painting would hang. The room is contemporary in colors of taupe, grey, black and light gold – understated but stunning, a truly elegant space and color scheme. We agreed that a long, narrow painting was needed and a size of 24” high and 54’ inches wide would be perfect.
I began with a few small oil sketches in the same proportions as the final size; the samples helped her decide which composition she liked best. I put the various images into the room via a mobile app I use called IArtView and emailed them to her to see how they would look. Once the composition was selected, I was off and running!
Craftsmanship of a painting is incredibly important to me. I began creating a custom sized surface: 24” x 54” is not a standard size and I did not want it on stretchers. For conservation reasons it’s best to have paintings on a solid support to eliminate things such as canvas “slack”, and this keeps the surface stable. It also prevents premature cracking, glazing and delamination. I mounted oil-primed canvas on conservation grade ¾” thick honeycomb board with archival glue. With something this size, a lightweight yet stable surface that was not going to warp or bend, was imperative.
Next was creating the correct color palette. Since this was a monochromatic painting, it was relatively easy. But it was not “black and white” like the photo. The palette was custom blended to complement the room. The colors used included various mixtures of Cassel Earth, Italian Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black and Titanium white that complemented the fabric and walls.
About 4 weeks later, the painting was finished. The interior designer was thrilled, and we chose a beautiful Larson Juhl frame – we actually began looking at frames before the painting was finished! We wanted everything to be cohesive.
Why did this work so well? It came down to expectations and communication. The interior designer asked me to do something that is my specialty; she gave me an inspiration point, color samples and a picture of the room. I gave her an up front quote, a realistic timeline, and sample sketches she could preview in the room. I kept her in the loop with progress photos and delivered on time (actually, it was completed ahead of schedule.)
My next commission is for a private collector in Miami. This is going to be a bit different, as they don’t have the same concerns as an interior designer. They are moved by and drawn to my work, and have told me which paintings they like the most (I got them down to 2 paintings, that helped!). The subject and size is established. Now it’s time to get back to the easel and begin those samples!