I have just finished and shipped out this beauty to her new home in England.
I am so humbled and honored to have been commissioned to paint "Beauty's Glance" in memory of my client’s father who passed away in 2020 due to complications from Covid.
To get started with the commission my client and I had conversations around colors, images and ideas she would like represented in memory of her dad. While we spoke on the phone I drew quick sketches and then later made some small drawings with colored pencils to make sure I was on the right path. I never make detailed or accurate preliminary sketches as my style of painting is more intuitive, and I know I am being hired to create a painting in that style. I primarily want to know color choices and images that need to be included.
Then it just unfolded one layer at a time. In the early stages I paint abstract with lots of mark making while building up the background. I usually paint in 10-12 layers like this, until I feel it’s ready for the realistic image. I never shorten or try to skip this stage as I think there is so much depth and beauty that happens in these early layers.
Here are some progression photos:
I always encourage my students to take photos of each layer along the way as it's so much fun to look back and see how it all adds up to the final reveal!
1: Words of Love
Starting off with her dad’s favorite poem as an under layer to set the tone of the painting. Read full poem at end of post.
2: Acrylic Inks
I love to add in acrylic inks, or high fluid acrylic paint to start off the painting with some vibrant and bold colors.
3: Intuitive Painting
Next I add in acrylic paint on a few layers. Here I can get completely lost in the process. It can takes days or weeks as I work like this. Then once I can’t go any further I add in the image (or if it was to stay an abstract piece I’d be done at this point).
I usually always use chalk to draw out my composition, this way I can keep wiping away until I get it right. You can also just paint right into the chalk as well.
5: Building up my image
The next few layers are less intuitive and more intentional as I block in images and add values with color to get the composition the way I want it. (This also a stage when I can get frustrated as I want it to be pretty but I am still sorting out where everything goes!)
6. Adding in details
Once I feel satisfied with the composition and how everything looks together I go to work on the details. Let the fun begin! I just sit at my art table, put on a great audible and escape to a place of joy.
7: And she’s done
When I cannot think of another mark to make or color to add I know I am done! So as “Beauty’s Glance” travels from California across the pond to England over the next couple weeks I will be an anxious mom waiting for her arrival to her new home.
This style of painting is so mediative for me. It does take a long time, but it’s a lesson in patience too. There are days between layers where I hang up my piece and stare at it thinking about the next right move. There are times when I think it’s so ugly I’ve just made a complete mess (those are the days I need to leave it alone, and try again on another day). There are times when that next mark or color I put down is so magical I feel like someone else is painting and I am just watching (those are my favorite days!)
Commission paintings take on another level of emotion as I know I am not just painting for the joy of it, but that I am creating JOY for someone else. In hopes that every time they see their unique painting it will fill their hearts.
Leisure by William Henry Davies
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty's glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began.