Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Patio Welcome

Patio Welcome, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017
Auction Donation - Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

This weekend, the Huntsville Museum of Art is holding its 26th Annual Gala and Art Auction. One of my dear patrons is one of the chairmen, and she invited me to join in. This little patio garden scene will be in the silent auction on Saturday night. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be there, but if YOU are, have fun and I hope you find some art that you can't live without! All proceeds benefit the museum. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The BIG ONE (60x72)... and Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

A Capitol Evening, 60 x 72, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
Third of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
New teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

This is the big one, friends... and it will be placed in the entrance lobby of the new medical center!!! How cool is that?? I do wish you could see it in person to get the sense of the scale and brushwork, but here are some close ups...

A Capitol Evening (detail)

A Capitol Evening (detail)

The canvas is so big that I had to have it delivered to my house (it doesn't fit in my car!) Then, I had to move my studio into our living room to work on it. Thankfully, my easel moves up and down for painting the bottom half, but I could only do the sky by standing on my garden bench! Let's just say, there were definitely some gymnastics involved, and I learned A LOT from all of it! 

I'm still mentally digesting the lessons of scaling up my process to such a large format. Some days went smoothly, some were a bit challenging, and still others were downright frustrating. (My husband would insert here that he was compelled to stage an intervention about halfway through... some discussions on the "ledge" and a whisking away to the movies were greatly needed!) Painting this large required some serious adjusting on my part, and more importantly, keeping my eyes on the goal. Happily, it all came together in the end! 

A lot of you have asked about the ins and outs of commission work and I promised some "take aways" about that. For some reason, there is an awkwardness involved in doing creative work for other people. It is really important to treat a commission like a business deal, and that's where it gets hard. To that end, here are some of my tricks for managing the process:

Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

1. Get a signed contract. (Include painting design, fees, and project timetable.) 

2. Build in an extra fee for the "hassle factor". (20% add-on is my standard.)
3. Allow extra time in schedule for completing the work. (Life happens.)
4. Get a non-refundable down payment. (50% to get started is reasonable.)
5. Agree ahead of time on approval process. (Communication is everything.)
6. Document each stage. (And secure approval at designated checkpoints.)
7. Rearrange life. (Cancel lunches and take over the living room if necessary!)
8. Do the work and do not procrastinate. (Last minute equals disaster.)
9. No surprises. (Mid-project is not the time to "try a new idea".)
10. Meet deadlines - all of them. (And finish on time.)

I could write an essay on each one of these points, including stories of when I did it right and when I did it WAY wrong. But it all boils down to this... if I follow these guidelines, the whole process is better for my client and it is definitely better for me! It helps ME stay on schedule, and it helps us all stay on the same page. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Second of Three Commission Paintings for New Medical Center

Capitol Profile, 34 x 44, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
Second of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
New teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

As I shared in my last post, I kicked off 2017 with a 3-part commission for Austin's new medical center. See the first painting HERE. Each of the paintings commissioned is a cityscape, depicting a well-loved aspect of our very cool town (we love our home!) To say that I am excited to have been chosen for this project is a huge understatement. I am thrilled!

This piece features a profile view of the Capitol building, which is at the center of our downtown area. Of course, it is fenced in for safety purposes, but its "front yard" is a mass of sweeping lawns and paths, huge trees, and sculptures made to Texas history. And the inside of the building is stunningly grand. If you are ever in town, I highly recommend the tour. 

Some shots of the painting process... 

Blocking In

 Building up the painting with color

The Finished Piece - Capitol Profile, 34x44

An interesting story about shipping these commissions...
Since the art broker for this project is located out of town, I was asked to remove the paintings from their stretcher bars, roll them up, and ship them in a tube! It's a cheaper and safer way to transport them. The paintings will get re-stretched and framed at headquarters, and then come BACK to Austin to be installed at the new medical center! 

The painting, removed from the stretcher bars and rolled up between layers of glassine (an archival paper with a neutral ph protects the surface from rubbing and sticking).

Monday, February 6, 2017

First of Three Commission Paintings... with process shots!

State on Congress, 34 x 44, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
First of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
The new teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

I know I have been radio silent for a long time. Here is the deal... sometimes things happen in life that are just BIG. I have been completely distracted and painting non-stop on my largest commission project ever. It consists of three paintings for the Dell Seton Medical Center, our brand new teaching hospital at the University of Texas, which opens in May, 2017! Soon!

The commission is huge, both in honor (I am thrilled to be chosen) and in size... two are 34x44" and the third one is 5 feet by 6 feet (the largest painting I have ever made!) The "smaller" two are now on their way to the client for framing and installation, and I am hoping to wrap up the BIG one in the next week or so. 

Below are process shots of the first piece, "State on Congress". This one is based on a painting I did a few years ago that was much smaller and square (18x18). The submission process included reworking the scene into a horizontal landscape shape, which I presented as a pencil sketch and small color maquette. Once approved, I began the actual painting. I hope you enjoy seeing the progression of its development. 

Pencil Sketch for commission, 8x10

Color Maquette for commission, 12 x 15


Step 1 - Block-In - design and composition of scene.
I use a dark neutral paint tone, lightly applied to indicate shapes and values.

Step 2 - Mass-In large areas of color and value.
I mass in shadow areas of painting first, and work dark to light.

Step 3 - Mass-in large "lit" areas, keeping everything simple. 
Note that building in the dead center got moved. ;) Sorry for the bad photo but I wanted to show this stage and it's all I have. 

Step 4 - Break up masses and final marks.
I use subtle value shifts to indicate form and detail, adding final highlights and lowlights last. Note that the tall building on right got shortened. It's never too late to make changes!

Coming Up: Process Shots of the other two pieces, and some thoughts on how to approach a commission. I am making a list a "take-aways" to share with you, so please stay tuned! :)