Part 1: the process of a custom piece! Emily and Clay are very dear friends of ours and when they moved out of town to a new home, they requested a custom piece for their new entry way. It's always such an honor when friends want your work in their homes. Clay and Emily are some of the most fun people you'll ever meet, so I knew this one would be extra special and a really fun process. They presented me with the above colors that were around their home- great neutrals around, yet enough color for me to both include and compliment in the piece. They wanted a pop of color for the entryway that included warm oranges and some greens/ turquoises. With my intel gathered, I moved on to the next step- pulling together their requests into a piece that works with their space and colors. *Note the addition of occupational props for C&E added for audience amusement.
Step 2: I have Emily and Clay's home color palette, I have their requested colors for the ptg. I forgot to mention before that they sent me a picture of their wall and I sent them a digital mock up of a blank 36" x 48" on the wall so they could see the size they needed. At this time, with all our details in place, payment is made for the project. Now, it's business time. Clay and Emily go grab some cocktails and I get to work, and here's where the neurosis kicks in. Limitations in a project can cause shut down or lead you down a path of greater creativity if you roll with it. So, to stay in the latter category, I now pretend this was my original idea. Whaa? Yep- it only gets weirder. I set out several canvases on my work table and start mixing color palettes. I like to work with mini square 6" x 6" canvases at this stage even if he project is rectangular. For whatever reason, this works for me. I mixed a palette that included their requested warm oranges and turquoises and made sure it complimeted the colors they already have. I then start swiping paint on the canvases and start seeing compositions that form. I don't do any drawings at this stage, I just see what the paint wants to do and let a composition emerge from the random strokes that hit the canvas. See how they start off really blorfy (just made that word up) and then the more I work them, the more depth and structure they gain? Now I have to decide which one is perfect for this project. The suspense is high, y'all.
Step 3: I land on the perfect design and preset to client by taking a high res photo of this mockup and loading it into Photopshop. I manipulate it to a 36x 48 proportion and export it to a program I have that allows me to digitally render what the ptg looks like to scale on the client's wall- just like the blank version I mocked up for them initially. Emily and Clay gave a thumbs up and requested that I add a bit of navy to this and tone down the brighter green on the bottom. We don't leave this stage until the client is 100% happy with their ptg and I'm happy to say that I've never had an unsatisfied client- this process allows us to hammer out all the details on a mockup level and then the client being able to see what the ptg will look like on their wall relieves anxiety about the final project. Now all I have to do is move to the final big version with their small alterations.
Step 4 : We're almost done! I print out the mockup and start marking on it using an age-old technique called gridding. I make a grid on the smaller mockup print and then make a proportional grid on the big canvas. (Shown here smaller b/c it's a prettier setup and let's just be honest, we all signed up for a pretty feed). Grids allow you to recreate a piece by measuring. Most of drawing really is measuring- aka where does this line stop in correlation to that line starting? Once you have your squares, you draw what's in the squares and poof!! Your drawing is done super fast an accurately. This is an old school technique and I could use a projector, but this is faster for me and I like to practice my technical skills since I abstract it all day. Sometimes I use pencil and sometimes I draw with grey paint. Once it's all drawn out, I paint out the piece on the big canvas exactly as I have already worked it out in the mockup and it's ready to dry. Drying usually takes around 2-3 weeks. *Note- oil paint is my favorite. I love working with it. On the other hand, oil is a B and will dry whenever it so well pleases itself. My rule of thumb is the faster I need it dry, the longer it will take no matter what you do. This winter, oil paint and I have been at war, but I will win. Oh- I will win.