Commission Figurative, mixed media painting

I cannot believe the last post I did was in August!  It is always busy going into the Fall and Winter Market time with art and additional gallery and commission work.  So let me see what pieces I can get up here and explain stages.  Comments and purchases can always be made.  I also do classes locally and through the internet.  My email is
My location is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but I travel and my supplies always go with me.

This is the finished piece that was sent to the client.  This was a commission.  What is important to me in creating a successful commission is communication.  Before I start I will ask a lot of questions; about is this a gift, what is the relationship, what is special, etc.  I want to add more to the piece that becomes significant to the individual or individuals.  Here is was important the coloration, accuracy and there personalities.  I then decided to incorporate the moth image, and egrets/heron.
So my first step is to draw out the figure as accurate as possible on archival 300 lb. paper, hot press, that is stretched and dry.

then I I clean up my pencil sketch of any unnecessary lines and do a bit of collage work.  Once I do the collage work and enhance that I tone it all down with a thinned white gesso. My thought process is that I want the negative space images to exist but not to dominate the subject.  So the white washing with gesso is a perfect choice since unlike pure acrylic paint, gesso has a tooth and will accept other materials and media that I choose to use.  I also love to texture and stamp into the gesso.  I find modeling paste too thick, and I know I can thin it down, but why, when I love what gesso does.

I added gold and silver leaf because of the elegance of the woman and what she has communicated to me.  She will view this piece every step of the way.  I do not take long, this piece is a full sheet of archival paper 22" x 30" and should take less than 2 weeks to complete.  


Next is the base wash of the figure in watercolor.

I love allowing runs, but not every client will appreciate that.  But I want to tie the upper negative space with the figure.  So I am adding the figure coloration to the upper portion also.

Now adding more values in watercolor identifying the darker areas of the figure and establishing some of the lower areas which she is resting on.  When I work, I usually only suggest the negative space and allow the figure to dominate.  I love using black marker.  I use a black marker to identify her bra and panty area.  I know I can work most anything over marker, because it does not ruin the tooth of the paper, Voila!

Now I build up more accuracy with illusion, watercolor and pencil.

My lighting really changed for the final photo, it is somewhere in between the two.  Adding the lower foot, hands and the hair.  I do send images of the full paper and then where I would crop for mat and framing.  

I still love that single drip that runs from her shoulder, love the softness the egret has, and there are just enough golds and silvers. Shadows are so important when developing a piece, so give shadows their importance. Enjoy

Egret/ heron symbolism: the heron’s inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination.  As such this set the heron as a symbol of wisdom in that this creature seemed to have good judgement skills.

The moth: symbolizes determination, attraction, psychic abilities, and faith. 


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