New ideas

I was successful enough with my first commission in February this year that I am doing another. 

I am not as intimidated now as I was with the first picture. Yet it still has the pull for me to match the details of the photo I am working from. It is the small details that we remember. Be it in a piece of art, a distant memory or the smell and taste of grandma’s sweet potatoe pie. 

Details have been my focus lately coming from an amazing art business conference recently. If you are an artist who wants to understand the business end of selling art I highly recommend you start with Alyson Stanfield’s book “I’d rather be in the studio.”  Very good resource but also check out her website and her blog at

The details for this work seemed a bit vague. It started with a photo taken by the buyer. This is a scene looking out at the ocean from his sisters rental property in the Tortugas. Lots of sea, a few islands in the background and palm trees in the foreground.

Looking at the details I see the water is calm, the sky is plain with a few clouds and the palm frons are interesting but have no real color to them. How to add some interest without changing these details too much? I know that this photo is a good reference but it also can fool the eye with the color in the photo. Take the palm frons. If I make them all black, in shadow as the photo shows it will be hard to see them as “alive”.  

I have to add more clouds to the sky for interest. Otherwise this space will read flat and boring. So this is a detail that will be altered. The sea area is very cool and calm may need to add some waves for interest. The rocks in the foreground are interesting but I am thinking of adding more for interest in this area. 

Here is the beginning with the sky and sea done with colored pencil on the collage of fabric that I fused down to a base. I often take a photo of my work while working on the piece. It makes the eye see things differently, catch color conflicts and any area that is not complete. 

Viewing this picture I see that the hue of the blue in the sky and sea are too similar. I want to show distance thus I will need to lighten the sky by adding some light gray, a small amount of yellow for warmth and white. I also want to add to the waves. I like the movement so far but it will help to move them across the whole length of the picture. 

As I analyze the base colors I am anxious to get to the foreground details. I start looking thru my stash of fabrics. I find some rock fabrics in different sizes. I locate a brown batik that will be a good base for the tree trunks. I find a sandy colored fabric for the beach behind trees. The small patch of green lawn is very bright. I find the perfect piece knowing I will add the dark shadow of the middle tree with fabric markers. 

Here are some of those fabrics before I altered them. 

Now this next picture is after I made the changes to the sky and sea, added the trees and foreground fabrics. I used both colored pencil and fabric markers to all, adjusting the color as I placed each piece. I cropped this picture lower than the finished piece on the bottom. This way you can see I really did use that tan sandy fabric. With the blue gray over it you may have never known. However I knew I needed the warm of this yellow tan. 

I see I got carried over with the clouds but some of them will be covered by the palm frons. I will need to add some shadows to anchor the rocks on the beach line. Then to figure out what fabric or technique to use for the palm frons. Need to get busy. Next post I show you the finished piece. 

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