You know, this is the most fun I've had in months! And the most interesting part is it is a custom portrait, not something I'm doing for myself or a competition. This is a WIP of Preston, a very wet Welsh Corgi that just discovered that water can swallow you whole. During the photo shoot we took a stroll along the bank of The Little Miami, East Fork Branch. Preston followed his Labrador Retriever housemate straight into the river without a thought. He'd never been in water over his head. He sank like a stone, then bobbed up with an expression of pure shock! Pres isn't entirely sure water is to be trusted ever again! This piece will eventually be 12x14" Painted on lovely blue linen mat with CARAN d"ACHE Luminance, PRISMACOLOR and DERWENT COLOURsoft pencils.
This is an ancient apple tree that arches over a path to the sea. A much appreciated comment, by an amazing cp artist, Julie Podstolski, described the scene as Narnia. That's all she said, "Narnia." Somehow she got my intent. It is said that there is a strong spirit residing in this gnarly sentry. A study for a larger piece I plan for the future, it comes from one of many reference shots taken this summer, on the Maine property of dear friends. It is painted with Prismacolor and Luminance pencils on linen mat board.
If you have ever wondered why the real life artists aren't as happy-go-lucky as they are reputed to be, consider the expenses incurred in self promotion. For instance, did you know that an artist pays a submission fee of $30.00 to $50.00 for every image submitted to a juried show? Did you know that if the piece or pieces are accepted, the artist pays for presentation requirements, shipping and insurance, to and from said exhibition? For example, some shows require plexiglass, which is nearly twice as expensive as conservation glass. (Don't even ask about UV blocking Plexi.) I recently sent two pieces to California. My shipping plus return shipping total was nearly $400.00. Expenses like these are a calculated risk against a possible sale or the possible lead. How many small businesses take that kind of risk? As I've said numerous times, being an artist is not for the faint of heart.
This is a first! While working out the composition for a full colored pencil commission , I sent a picture of the pencil sketch to my client. She immediately shot an email back asking me to "STOP!" She liked the pencil sketch so much, she wished to buy it as is. Of course I'll "clean" it up a bit before I let it go. Here's the most recent photo. I will continue to darken a little here and there and brighten a highlight or two. The piece started out as a horizontal, but the client wanted me to show pool water, so now it is square. Interesting development, wouldn't you agree?
Lucy is coming along. Her coat colors are a gigantic challenge. I have hundreds of colored pencils rolling around on the drafting table! The use of mineral spirits was crucial. Tweaking will come later. I am going to set this aside for a little while to work on something else. Plenty left to do, but I'm "Artist blind."
I'm having a little trouble with my rag mat board surface holding up to all the color pencil layers. One thing I've found: odorless mineral spirits when allowed to over saturate breaks down my surface. I've since switched back to good old regular mineral spirits, but the damage was already done. -Came close to starting all over, but was able to dip and dab color where needed. The detailing is just about impossible. Working fixative allows a little repair. Otherwise, the piece is coming along. I will never return to odorless mineral spirits. Thank goodness for windows and fans!
Maize and Blue, 11x14" colored pencil on linen.Read More
After many years of doing portrait commissions, I have just recently started to get serious about contracts. For the first decade or so, most of my patrons were local. Many were clients at the veterinary hospital where I was office manager. When the economy plummeted into recession, my portrait commission business slowed as well. I became very aggressive about using social media and internet to make sales. I don't always have the luxury to look a client in the eye. A contract helps both the client as well as the artist. It articulates possibilities that one might forget or be afraid to mention. It spells out the rules. And though it adds time to the initial process (I don't begin a project without both a signed contract and a nonrefundable deposit,) it reduces stress in the long run.