I thought it might be interesting for you to find out about what goes on in creating a simple artwork.
One of my favorite pieces I've created in 2013. Christine and her family allowed me to capture them as a caricature. This project came to me as an online commission. I was only sent pictures and loose directions. A sample request, "The background can we do it a bright fun color like soft yellow. I love the color red, my daughter on the the left of picture loves the color teal, daughter to the right a purple and as far as my husband and son the team is The Canucks they are a royal blue and a "grass color green" unsure on how to tell you that color. The size I want a good size like a 20 x 30 or so."
So, then I propose, "My thinking is a family photo where all the ladies are dressed up while dad is dressed in his comfort clothing. Dad is sitting is sort of a king position with everyone holding on to him. I had mom's arm wrap around to give authority and a statement of extra affection. He is holding junior up but she is holding him up. I put the hockey stick in to share his passion but also to balance out the figures around dad."
My first step is to sketch out a draft of the composition. Because I was doing this through mostly emails, I thought it would be easier to sketch the art digitally. Using photoshop I layered each of the figures. In our communications, I gave Christine a full first edit. That means she could change anything to my design. There were ideas exchanged about color, size, age, perspective, and position. A sample statement, "I made some of the requested changes. In this stage I will start to clean up the persons. Now, I have the first color treatment. I'm not happy with yellow background. I will try to soften it up, and try some other colors. I'd like your opinion on my choice of base colors. In the next stage I will add values to create the 3D form off of these base colors. Are the skin and hair tones okay? Also I'm not sure on everyone's eye colors."
After the first round of edits, I give the client a limited second revision. Usually that means small changes or redirection in rendering. A sample statement, " I guess I don't understand this process, but the our hands don't look like real hands. ( people hands ). they look like feathers?"
I try to reassure and explain my working process many times throughout the development, I feel it's an artist's duty to educate the audience, so that in turn, they will spread the reasoning to future fans. So, I might respond like, "I always should forwarn showing this stage. This is the layer under the color. It gives it form and 3 dimensionality. Trust the process. I'm not sure about the hands comment. They are in the same place as the previous sketch."
In this stage I used layer of ink washes, just black India ink added with various levels of water. I really enjoy this stage. I build up a lot of contrast, and like to make forms "pop".
My final stages are easy. I wash over the colors. I use water colors. I did make some small edits. I changed the color of the dresses to make them more uniform and supportive to the strong blues in dad's shirt. I worked off of the red in Christine's dress, and then added stages of color from the same blue from dad's shirt to make the colors cohesive.
I debated with myself against inking the picture with the hard black lines because I really liked the way the soft colors worked, but in the end, the client always gets what they want.
There you have it. My crazed mind on paper. Thanks again to Christine and her family for honoring me with a place for this artwork in their home. I believe it will provide conversation for many family gatherings.
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