A spring commission

With the spring shows hung and the winter commission complete, I was thinking I would be able to turn next to some plein air painting, or perhaps to develop a couple of my James River plein air paintings into larger studio works. But that will have to wait, as I have gotten another commission! :-) But first, a couple of shots of the garden, which, when last photographed was in a state of sad dishevelment! The gardens around the studio really come into greater color in the summer. But with the rubbish cleared and weeds pulled, things are coming alive in the side garden with Creeping Jenny on the path, flanked by Mountian Bluets (Bachelor's Buttons) and creeping phlox. A flowering Dogwood makes a nice canopy, and the lilac in the fore is just starting to put off its heady scent.


Here's another shot below of the garden opposite the studio. In summer there are lilies, cone flowers, tall phlox and a butterfly bush. But my big thing lately is succulents. I love that they are water-wise and so marvelously sculptural. In the center is a succulent topiary I made last year. I will need to replenish a few of the tender plants that didn't survive our winter, but it hasn't been quite warm enough here to see much variety in the garden centers yet.


Now that my daughter is a toddler, I can usually patch together enough time to noodle in the garden while she plays nearby. Working in the studio is a different story. At just 2 1/2 years old, her attention span is still pretty limited. So while she loves being in the studio, (and I love having her there,) I do have to shoo her out when it comes time to work, amidst howls of protest (and a certain amount of Mommy guilt as well).

...Which leads me to the commission! If you have been a reader for some time, this image might be familiar to you. In fact, I have painted variations of this scene a few times, beginning with the small painting done en plein air in the Blue Ridge mountains, and following with two larger 30x40 versions.

The commission came about as the result of my April show currently taking placein New Jersey. The client loved the painting "Morning Meadow" (click here to read my blog about this painting in the making) but it was much too large for her space. So my task is to recreate this scene in a 16x20 format.

Since a 30x40" painting doesn't exactly scale down to 16x20", we thought it best to start with a sketch of the new painting so that the client could have a visual idea of how it would look compositionally.


While on the one hand, it may seem easier to recreate something I have basically already done a number of times, it can sometimes be a challenge to meet client expectations. Sometimes, though not always, a client may, for instance, expect the new painting to be exactly like the first, only smaller. So an effort always has to be made to explain in advance that as an original work of art, a painting can't be recreated stroke-for-stroke like the last.

The client does understand this, though she would like the color of the new piece to be as close as possible to the last. It was, after all, the combination of colors in Morning Meadow that she fell in love with.

Luckily, my prior blog post listed the exact color palette I used to create the larger piece! :) (I can't tell you how often I have referenced my own blog to get this kind of historical information.) So while I won't be able to remember exactly the combinations of color mixtures, I will be able to take some of the guesswork out of the process and use the same palette for this piece.


Above is the sketch, reinterpreted onto canvas. At this point in sketch stage, I want to make sure I get an accurate placement for the various elements in the composition, so I've marked off in pencil the horizontal and vertical mid-points in the pencil sketch as well as on the painting to guide me. More to come in an upcoming post, where I will get into some color!