Thursday, September 16, 2010

Juggling Many Balls...









So much to do... so little time! The Paint Box Gallery is humming with activity. Deb is preparing new stained glass tree ornaments, handmade... funky gift tags and cards and I am working on a commission and "filling in the blanks" for numerous paintings that have left the Gallery this month... and we love this! Together... we are making the final changes on our web site to introduce a new online gallery where direct purchase and delivery can be made that will be directly linked to my blog. It will be exciting and offer a very new and excellent opportunity for interested parties to purchase my smaller work online. Stay tuned!

As with everyone....Fall brings transition in my life that demands attention... in too many areas at once it seems. I am now back to the large commission piece of the Humber Bridge and Mill that my clients have given the green light... after making changes to the original study on a 15 x 24 inch panel format. The final piece will measure 24 x 48 inch format an canvas... exactly twice the scale and proportion of the study as was the original plan. The clients had at one point expressed concern about the size of the piece given the added dimensions of the framing. But a visit to their home to visually see the space above the fireplace, combined with input from an interior design relative confirmed that the original plan could go ahead safely.

The progress had been earlier delayed by the fact that the clients wanted significant changes that deviated from the study which I earlier posted. Those changes were justified... simply because they live with the result. But from my own point of view, they really didn't reflect my own personal vision of the project. In commission work there exists one simple rule: The client is ALWAYS right when the negotiation process and dust settles. All that I can ask for and hope for... is to maintain control of the painting process and style of the piece. They have approached me on the basis of the appeal of my style initially. That must always remain intact to the very conclusion of the piece for me to maintain ownership and confidence in the work... and to allow me to sign it to conclude the contract.

I am posting the "altered" study in this post so that viewers can see the changes and how they effect the original view and "feel" in the study. I always maintain artistic rights to my completed preliminary studies, but always offer the clients first right of refusal to purchase these at a reasonable cost. Knowing that I was going to own this study at the end and that it was not "my cup-o-tea"... given the changes, I awoke at four o'clock in the morning with a creative solution that would allow the changes to proceed without altering the original feel of the study.

I carefully taped a sheet of clear plastic Mylar that completely covered the area of the study and then easily applied the requested changes over the original. I used my Wingel Medium to increase the flow of the pigment and to speed up the drying. This greatly helped me to work thinly and rapidly without any effect on the original. The clients were very satisfied with the changes made... and really never noticed the Mylar... until I peeled back one corner to reveal what was underneath. The one change that discouraged me most was the elimination of the roof on the mill. I had rendered it historically correct through a lot of research to recreate what had been destroyed in the fire that destroyed the Gamble Mill in 1918. Today,the Mill has been totally restored and changed and is a very upscale and exclusive spa, hotel and event center. The new facility is built upon the lower storey of the original mill, but is completely hidden from view by new growth trees. I heartily agreed with the partial covering of the left hand arch using sumac... aids the composition for sure and takes away the repetitive "bounce" created by the three arches.

The clients wanted "the ruins" feel simply because they wanted to recreate the feel of the site as they remembered and used the site in their early growing up years. Fair ball for "Me"! This is where one's relationship with the clients comes strongly into play. In this particular case, we have a wonderful relationship (though short in duration) that goes beyond my doing their commission. They share a wonderful sense of common taste which is present in every aspect of their home and in the way they share their life together. I very much admire them and consider their choosing me to complete this work an honour... and a pleasure.

I purchased the "oddball" sized canvas and began the final thrust by lightly "mapping in" the critical points, essential forms and proportions using vine charcoal to lay in the basics. Any changes... and there were many... were easily erased and changed using a shop towel. The three span stone bridge was exceedingly difficult to upscale, given that the arches were flattened and very curvilinear in nature. Any deviance from the true form was immediately glaring. After many failed lines and attempts... the final and acceptable form was in place. I simply danced around the rest of the drawing to balance other parts in relationship to the central bridge form. I then sprayed the charcoal lines lightly with retouch varnish to "fix" the lines and thereby avoid muddiness when I applied the colour.

This morning I will begin the lay in portion of the project. Hopefully after today's work in the studio, that stage will be in place and dry enough to start applying the actual final darks and lights on the canvas. I will post the new progress in the next posts.

I hope that the explanation of this commission serves as a guide and aid for those of you who either work on commissions... or hope to begin. Commissions can indeed be rewarding... but they are demanding... and on rare occasions can be downright discouraging and painful to everyone on board. Never take a commission on the basis of $$$$. Take it when "You" can embrace the idea and feel that you will enjoy making the painting. Otherwise...BEWARE... or for my money...PASS!!

Good Painting to all... and Happy Fall! The colour is coming... and "I" will be "out there" or "en plein air"... in my glory! Algonquin Park and The Oro-Medonte Hills will see a lot of "Me" over the next few weeks!

12 comments:

  1. A fascinating blog, Bruce! So much to learn and see, thanks for sharing your painting in progress especially. I love the changes auntumn brings, and indeed how you're embracing it all...

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  2. Wow! Bruce, best of luck with the commission. I am sure the client will be very pleased. It isn't easy being an artist. I agree with you on the money thing. If it doesn't feel comfortable to you as an artist, then we must pass on the commission. In the end Bruce, your talent is meant to be shared with all.

    All the best to you and Deb.

    Joan

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  3. Fine paintings and a good read and katsottavablogi. I like very much my paintings. Come and see the pictures Teuvo www.ttvehkalahti.blogspot.com blog from there you can find more themes for painting. Sincerely, Teuvo Vehkalahti Suomi Finland

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  4. Hi Carolyn!....Thank "You" for visiting and for your encouraging comments!

    Fall is indeed a much anticipated and exhilarating season... short though it may be in its duration.

    I really do look forward to the changes as well... the colour... the crispness of the air and the fresh bounty of the harvest... available only at this special time of our year.Mmmm Mmmm Good!

    Good Painting!... Inhale and enjoy every precious moment!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  5. Hi Joan!.... Happy Fall! Looks as if you've got a great head start with your outdoor painting!

    The commission should move along nicely now. All of the planning and spadework is in place. Now comes the good part... throwing around pigment!

    Not too much putzing around on your new work. Plein air says you were there. Being fresh and spontaneous often is even more important than correcting and making the piece too finished looking! But "You" are the chief!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  6. Hi Teuvo!... Thank you for visiting!

    Love your floral photos... very sensitively created! Though we use different mediums to "make art"... the result is comparable! Your passion shows through in your work ... and in your collecting tendencies!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce Sherman

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  7. It's certainly fortunate that you have a good relationship with your clients. I always worry whether my impression of a subject will match my clients' expectations. I would be even more concerned if the subject was a reconstruction, like this.

    I prefer your original version. I think it makes a better painting as the mill has more 'presence'.

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  8. Hi Keith!...Good to hear from "You" again! How is Autumn progressing in the high regions of Scotland? Hope that you are finding enough fair weather to paint and to trek as you love to do!

    Matching up client and artist expectations is always a major concern for both parties at the beginning of every commission undertaken.

    I try to dispel these "early jitters" by beginning the initial meeting with the client with lots of discussion that both reaches into their daily lives and s well, openly reveals as much I am able about my own process and basic principles that I live under. In so doing, some common ground and feeling of comfort can be established for both parties.

    Admittedly, this doesn't always ameliorate "bad vibes"... and so this is when a frank "Yes...I can deliver... or Sorry, this is outside my comfort zone" answer must be delivered courteously... but firmly.

    I much prefer the original version (with a few minor changes) for the very same reason that you feel as well. I will post the final version of the study after the completion of the commission. We'll see how you feel about my changes then!

    Thank you ever so much for your valuable input and support Keith. Both are much valued and appreciated.

    Fair Fall Weather and Good Painting and Trekking!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  9. Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for sharing the stages of your painting. I love the "behind the scenes" and how the artist arrived at the finished work. Your blog is a learning experience. I will stay tuned.

    Best to you Bruce,

    Sue

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  10. Thank you Sue!...For visiting and for the most gracious and encouraging comment! Both are appreciated!

    Glad that the process presentation offers you an opportunity to add to your already very developed and eye-catching work!

    Good Painting! Happy Fall Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  11. Very nice series of work-in-progress, and successful finished work!
    ~aRt

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  12. Hi R!... Thanks for the visit and gracious comments!

    Your "cheeky" mice project pieces really gave me a chuckle too! Great stuff!

    Good Painting!
    Warm regards,
    Bruce

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