Denouement – How Commissions Work
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
(or at least how this one did)
Denouement, 36″x24″ oil paint on canvas, nfs (commission).
This commission was many months in the making, as all my oil paintings are, but in the long run both Kristen (the commissioner) and I are happy with the results. I believe there was something about squeaking noises during the unboxing, specifically…
We chatted a little about the commission process from her end, and this is what she had to say:
I tend not to buy ‘pre-created’ art a lot. Much of what I have in my possession (walls, hidden in the closet, etc) is from commissions, because it’s exactly what I want. I’ve had some smaller things done from other people, but nothing else on this large a scale. I was Natalie’s roommate when she got Till the Walls Shall Crumble to Ruin, and that was kinda what pushed me to go to you for this big piece. She told me that you guys had some many conversations about her art that you had to use a separate conversation on gmail, which boggled my mind, but then we ended up doing the same!
Mostly I just thought of every beautiful thing I really wanted to put into it, and how to make an amalgam of six different things into one idea, and what would that idea look like at the end of the day. So even though the image was so freaking clear in the my head I knew it needed to be adjusted. That’s where you came in. And I knew the basic idea: the hero standing at the end of a journey and going into the light, but the specifics were hard coming. Photo references were totally helpful, plus the mood I wanted, melancholy instead of heroic. It’s Luke burning Vader rather than a bunch of ewoks singing.
Then there were sketches — it was like slowly seeing what I had in my mind’s eye but also redefining it, because what i had in my head could never be exactly put onto canvas, and I knew that. So it was looking and quirking an eyebrow and readjusting and asking questions, figuring out what worked in silhouette and what didn’t. The waiting from my end was agony, but a lot of it was on me. It took ages to figure out exactly what I wanted.
It was a very interesting little journey but completely worth it. It’s amazing to have something so important to me on my wall, in my life, tangible. Which is what is. It’s an incredibly important idea that I can touch, and that’s a wonderful thing. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience, even the agony of waiting. It went on my wall very quickly once it came, though!
Above you can see some of the sketches we went through, starting in the lower right of the four-panel page I made myself. I did a lot of studies for this one, because I knew once I was painting the process demanded I know exactly what I needed to do. The watercolor study came out a bit mushy because of the paper I was using, which wasn’t at all suited to it, but I took a very good scan of the sketch on that page before I added color.
That sketch got printed off onto a few sheets of paper, and then I cut them out and used them to transfer exactly the image we’d agreed upon to the canvas.
Then I painted in the color, which looks super bright with the background still white. You can see where I wanted to have everything decided upon before it got to this stage. Plus, this way the carving above the door was almost perfectly symmetrical, heh.
Here you can see a really nice view of the sunlight glow, which was the last thing to go in, and also the texture of the paint that gives all of the detail in the black areas without any actual color variation beyond the glow.
It takes me months and months to do one of these commissions, but I always love the results. There’s something really special about doing a painting just for someone else, knowing it’s just what they wanted.
What about you, would you like to commission one of your own?