Thursday, October 15, 2009

Commission, part 2

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I was commissioned to create a piece similar to the piece pictured above, but in a much larger size.

The original bird pieces were 20" x 16" and the painting in the center was 12" x 12" and they wanted the final piece to be a triptych, each 45" x 17".

I had some 45" x 17" birch panels created by a local woodworker, and then made my plan of attack.
The original bird piece on the left is also on a wood panel. I had brushed on some clear encaustic medium, and then collaged the birds in (cut out of black paper). I painted the red birds on top using oil paint.

The bird piece on the right is similar, but the red birds are drawn on the board with colored pencil, clear medium was added, and then I collaged in the birds cut out of black paper.

The piece in the center was created while I was in grad school, but luckily I still have it, so I could look at it. I had stretched raw canvas over a board and then wrote using oil pastel and I did a solvent transfer of the telephone pole directly to the canvas and covered it with clear encaustic medium. I think I then carved lines using a needle tool and filled them in with oil paint. Then I covered it with a layer of orange-ish medium. That may not be right, but that's my best guess. It was five years ago, after all!

I was a little hesitant to do a transfer of the telephone pole, since the other elements were more hard-edged. So I decided to paint it directly onto the panel using gouache.

Since I hardly ever throw anything away, I still had most of the original imagery that I had used in the original pieces. So I enlarged some copies and used carbon paper to transfer it to the panel. Then I painted it in with black gouache and did the lines using a Sharpie.

I did similar things for the other 2 panels with the birds. On one I painted the birds with black gouache and cut out red paper, and the other I painted with red gouache and cut out black paper. I ended up removing some of the cut out birds so each set of birds and trees didn't look exactly the same.
So in the photo above, on the left panel, the birds are painted in black gouache and the red is cut paper, and on the right panel, the red is gouache and the black is cut paper. So that's what it looked like before I added any wax.

I found this ginormous hake brush at Jerry's Artarama in Austin. It's helpful to scale up your brushes when you scale up your work. And although these pieces are tall, they're not really terribly much bigger than my other work, so it wasn't too hard to get a nice, even surface on these.

I brushed on a few layers of encaustic medium and fused with a heat gun. Then I added the cut paper and collaged it in using some more medium. Here's an image of the pieces with all the wax added.

I really like the way it looks here, but I knew that it wasn't exactly what the client had asked for. After conferring with my friend, we agreed that I should make the middle panel look more like the original (more orange-y), so I scored lines into the wax using a needle tool, and added some reddish-orange oil paint, rubbing it into the scored lines and also leaving a little bit of paint on the surface.

So here's the final piece:

I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

Here's a shot of the piece installed in the spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa!:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


OK, I'm not going to go on and on about what a bad blogger I am...

I have been busy, though. I just completed my very first commission! I'm very excited about it. It was a real challenge, but I enjoyed it very much.

I got the commission through a friend. She was bidding on a large hotel project and needed more artwork, so she asked her artist friends to submit their work. So I sent her links to my Flickr sets of 3 painting series, Palimpsest, Seeking Shelter, and Waxy Buildup. She included several pieces in her presentation, and they chose 4 pieces.

The first one is actually a triptych made of one of the Seeking Shelter pieces and two of the Palimpsest pieces. An interesting combination that I wouldn't have thought of.

The original bird pieces were 20" x 16" and the piece in the middle was 12" x 12". The piece they commissioned is 3 panels measuring 45" x 17".

So I needed to recreate this piece in that new size. They don't expect it to be exactly like the original, but similar style, colors, etc.

The second piece was originally 12" x 24" (actually two 12" x 12" panels) and they wanted it reproduced 48" x 66". I ended up doing it on two 48" x 33" panels, since it had been a diptych to begin with.

The third was originally 12" x 12" and they wanted it 43" x 43"!

And the last was also originally a 12" x 12" and they commissioned it at 31" x 41".

All of the pieces are encaustic. And if you've ever done large-scale encaustic painting, you know what a challenge it is. I'd never done anything this large before. And I'd also never tried to reproduce my paintings before. So it was quite a challenge!

Some specific challenges:
-Many of these pieces were created 4 or 5 years ago, and I don't have them any more, and I barely remember how I made them. I can now really appreciate those crazy, anal-retentive artists who make copious notes about their colors and processes!

-I used a lot of collage elements that are difficult to scale up to a larger size - maps, transfers, cut paper, etc. Also, one piece has a lot of scraping on it. It was 12" x 12" and the marks are made by a regular sized paint scraper. Hard to reproduce that affect on a 43" x 43" piece!

-I find it really difficult to get a smooth surface with encaustic at such a large size.

I'll go into more detail in future posts about each piece and show lots of work in progress shots. So stay tuned!