Third & fourth layers of paint added.
Though you see some of the details in this photo, previous to adding them I continued to work on the larger areas trying to establish the correct values and colors. Because of the detail I knew I would be adding, I spent more time on the back wall because I knew I would have to paint over those areas.
The old sewing machine, used as an end table on the lower left of the painting, is bugging me. I don't think it is big enough and the bat seems too large. For the football, I purchased one for our "Toys for Tots" campaign and then used it for accuracy before putting it in the box for kids. I know that I also need to calm the rug down so that it does not stand out so much. I think I need to do some glazing over the edges. The table top is kind of intimidating me because it looks so large and I am wondering how I am going to solve that problem. It is so-o-o tempting to paint in the chairs, but they have to be one of the last things I add because I will not be able to paint around them.
Time to call Annemarie and ask her to come over for her input. I LOVE painting these Memory Portraits, but there is always that little bit of anxiety before the client comes over to approve or not.
...to be continued.
Second layer of paint.
It is time to really dive in. Now that I have the basic design and shapes of the painting established, I start to apply thicker layers of paint. My preferred tool for applying paint is the palette knife - which is like a long slender metal spatula - versus the brush. Many people find it hard to believe that I can work in such small areas with a palette knife, but for me it seems to work. All the eventual details in the kitchen, including the chairs around the table are not included at this point. Those items are the "dessert" of the painting process and come much later.
Oops! I challenged you in my previous post to notice what is incorrect in the painting. Since the chairs are not painted at this point, it is not possible to see the mistake unless you go back to the sketch. After reveiwing my notes, I realized that the Egli's always have 8 chairs around the table, not 7. It seems they are always ready for someone to drop in to join them. What a wonderful thought.
My other concerns at this stage of the game is to note any perspectives that seem "off" even though the painting is already exaggerated, and see if some things are out of proportion. I can see there are a couple of things to correct. What seems out of kilter to you?
...to be continued.
Thin first layer of paint.
Yes, it is time to apply paint! Before transferring the sketch onto to the board I am using, I applied several layers of gesso with a large palette knife. Gesso is a thick white substance that all artists use to protect the painting surface from the paint they are using. Every artist applies it differently - some like it smooth and some like a texture; I prefer the latter. I also do not like to 'feel' the texture of canvas; this is purely a personal preference.
Using the color palette shown previously, I thinned out the paint with an artist's thinner and applied light areas of color in the large areas with a brush. This gives me a guide or is the foundation of the painting. You will notice that little detail is evident at this stage and you can see my use of warm colors. There are strong warm feelings surrounding this painting because of what this room represents to the Egli family, and I want to convey those feelings the best I can. It is also important at this stage to see how my perspective is and determine if something seems a little "off."
Did anyone happen to notice a mistake in the sketch? When I went back to review my interview notes, I realized that I forgot something. Answer in the next post.
...to be continued.
I chose a Red/Green color palette
After the scketch approval, what decisions are next? For me, the next step is deciding on the color palette for the painting. Since I use three basic color palettes based on the color opposites - red/green, blue/orange, yellow/purple - for my paintings, I had to choose the most appropriate for this Memory Portrait. During the interview process, I asked everyone the colors they "saw" in the kitchen. The consensus was lots of browns, greens, some rose, and tans, and that the kitchen is rather dark. In the photo you will see my tube colors representing the red/green palette along with some color swatches of mixed paint that I will use in the painting. By the way, I use an old butcher porclain tray for my paints.
My challenge is creating a painting that conveys the spirit of this warm and caring family. Though a rather drab color palette was described to me, the energy within that room is quite the opposite.
What is an artist to do? What would you do?
...to be continued.
Pencil Sketch of Egli Kitchen
Have you ever incubated an idea? I bet you have. We artists do it all the time. Visuals and information are inputted and we just let all of that stir for awhile. Sometimes the time that elapses is short and other times is can be months or even years. During my incubation time for the Egli painting, I "sketched" a few ideas of the painting in my minds eye, but since there was no deadline to adhere to, I let ideas stew as I created other non-related paintings.
The Egli kitchen is the heart of their house and has become so even for the younger generations. Mom was always in there cooking or sewing, dad was often reading in his rocking chair, people were frequently dropping by, discussions are lively, and many a good meal has been eaten there. It was their gathering place while Dane was growing up, particularly since the home itself was small.
Kitchens are usually packed with all kinds of stuff because of all of the various activities that take place there. My challenge is to create a room that conveys this, yet is not so visually distracting that it is not an attractive painting to look at. I have the additional challenge of having never painted what we call an "interior" painting, but I love doing things I have not done before.
Here is the sketch that I presented to Dane's wife for approval and suggestions. I had several questions for her because I made some "artistic" changes. For example, I eliminated the soffit in the ceiling, removed the angled corner cupboards, and asked if the ceiling fan and light were important. One of her sons came along and he offered his imput as well, which was welcomed. This meeting also gave me the opportunity to explain some of my decisions.
The perspective will be a little "off" as we are trying to include several things in this painting. The table is slightly exaggerated because this is an important symbol for the family.
What do you think? Anything seem incorrect or missing? Did you find the bat and football, even though this image is small?
...to be continued.
Where does the commission process begin and how?
When I begin the Memory Portrait creative process, it is important to ascertain the memory that the individual, or in this case, the family wants to preserve. Every Memory Portrait is unique with unique players, which is one of the many reasons why I enjoy painting them! Using my school psychology experience, I develop a list of interview questions to learn what the family wants and what stirs them emotionally.
The painting I will be creating for the Egli family is a surprise, which always throws in some additional excitement to the process.! The wife of the to-be-surprised husband, gave me some background about what she thought her husband would like; she initially told me that she wanted a painting of the home in which he grew up. This introductory meeting allowed me to develop a number of questions to ask about the old family home. He has four siblings that I wanted to interview.
Here is a sample of questions:
~ What are the salient features of the house?
~ Describe the surroundings.
~ Close your eyes and tell me the colors you see first.
~ What is his favorite season?
~ Where is his favorite place in the house?
~ Which adjectives would you use to describe this room?
~ Close your eyes and tell me the music you hear.
~ What might be his favorite memory of this room?
...and there were several more.
The interviewing process is quite enjoyable for a number of reasons. First of all, it fun to get to know the family and it permits me to begin to feel the emotions that I will try to convey in their painting. The process also allows for some brainstorming and I often get some ideas that have a little twist. For example, I learned that he was quite the athlete during high school, so I wanted to know his sports. When I asked where in the kitchen he might have put his glove or football when he came home, I was told that that was not permitted! However, we decided that I could go ahead and discreetly include a baseball bat and football in the painting. I found the perfect place for them.
Once we determined that it was the kitchen, and not the outside of the house, that was going to be the subject of this painting, I asked for specific photographs. If the home had been geographically closer, I would have gone there myself. Over a couple of months, several photos were collected and you can see a few in these photos. I also taped two together so I could see the kitchen in one photograph. These will be my reference photographs in addition to the interview data.
Creating a Memory Portrait for a family carries with it a deep responsibility, and I am always deeply honored to have the opportunity.
Once I analyze everything, my next step is a couple of sketches. Join me for the next post. What do you think it might look like?
...to be continued.