Friday, February 18, 2011

The Beginning of a Commission

Painting commissioned work is a little nerve-racking. There's a lot more stress in it than my regular paintings. For my regular work, if the image doesn't look exactly like the person in the photograph, that's okay. Most people would never know it doesn't look exact since nobody knows the person I am painting. Because I put a bar over the eyes, it matters even less whether or not the person looks exactly like the image on the photo. I do try and get it as close as possible, but I don't stress about it if it's not perfect.

Commissions are a different story though. I am being paid to make the image look like the photograph. It has to be exact. It has to be perfect, or at least pretty damn close. I can't help but worry whether or not I am capturing the essence of the person. The emotion has to be right. That "special" look in the eyes has to be there. All things that I have to think about. All things that make me nervous while I am painting. IT can drive me crazy sometimes, but I do them anyways. Why do I do them then? Why do I put myself through this? Well, I have not had anyone complain or reject the paintings once they were done. In fact, I have made a few people cry after seeing my work. People seem to like what I do. That is always a good feeling. It's what makes doing commissions worth it, and the money definitely helps.

I started painting number one of three, in a series for a client. The first image is of the client as a baby. It's a cute image but I have a long ways to go before it looks right. Here's what I did today:

As you can see from the original photo above, I have a long ways to go before I finish. Today I worked mainly on the underpainting and getting rid of pencil marks. When I first start a painting, the carbon from my drawing always mixes with the paint and changes the color. It also shows through the first layer of paint. My underpainting absorbs the pencils and adds a layer of paint down so that when I work on the dark areas, the paint isn't as transparent. Also, the underpainting helps me make any corrections to the shape of the face, etc. 

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