Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leaving the making of a big painting

Hello!  You might be entertained with the behind the scenes goings on of my latest "big commission."  It's a 36"x24" figurative painting...  The buyer is a collector of my work.  When he initially asked me to do the painting I declined.  Figurative oil painting was territory I hadn't explored in 20 years.  Also, as a painter who learned to paint (again) by making small daily paintings the required dimensions seemed giant.  But my (dear, intrepid, oh-so-wonderful) buyer was persistent and truth be told I wanted to do it - I just needed to work up the courage. 

Jack Vettriano
"The Singing Butler"
He was very specific about what he wanted the painting to be:  A Jack Vettriano inspired glamorous couple.  "The Singing Butler" actually hangs in my house-- Since I paint from photographs, the first step was setting up a photo session with models.  Who to paint?  My good looking husband, of course! I put an ad on Cleveland Craigslist for the female. The 20 year old who replied had a beautiful online portfolio and agreed to a date for the shoot.  She was a size 4. 
Clothes for the photo shoot--much fun was had shopping for these.
Next:  Props!  This part of the process was way more fun than I anticipated.  I go antiquing all the time but I had never taken an interest in vintage clothes.  Suddenly I couldn't get enough.  Ball gowns, military suits, sundresses, pantsuits, aprons, silk and tweed:  All captured my imagination! My husband came with me and he modeled jackets and fedoras.   The buyer wanted to be included during the process, so I sent him photos of the outfits. 
The night before the photo session:  The Craigslist model emailed to tell me her car was having "issues" (her word.) I offered to drive...  she accepted and then she promptly disappeared.  Doh!  So, the first photo session had to be cancelled and I was stuck with a bunch of size 4 clothes and no model.    
Then I remembered Facebook!  My FB friend Tim Herron was a participant in a life drawing workshop I took a while back.  He runs a Cleveland group called The Pretentious Tremont Artists and he helped me find Carli Cichoki!   Not only was Carli a size 4 and able to fit the clothes, she was tall too!  Perfect as my Husband is 6' 6"
Positions for reference during the shoot.
Finally, we had a date and two reliable models ready to go!  I printed a series of poses and put them in eye shot for easy reference.  Was it weird for me to photograph my husband with a beautiful model?  A little, especially when he looked as if he was having fun.  LOL, but I digress.  Carli was great.  Though I'd probably hire a male model next time.  Anyway, hind site is 20-20, right?  I will say my husband looks amazing in a suit coat and tie.
I took hundreds of photos and will revisit them for future paintings.
I forwarded pictures from the shoot to the client and we chose a combination of photos to use as reference for the final painting. A selection of photoshopped backgrounds was also offered.  He chose the interior of the Musee D'Orsay.  I did a half size study first which was approved. 
So, without further ado, here is the final painting.

Leaving  Oil on canvas  36" x 24"  SOLD
The buyer is happy with it and so am I.  --  Thank you, TS!!!


  1. Wow! Diane, this is just incredible and thanks for sharing the "behind the scenes." Really very interesting!

  2. Wonderful process and sounds like lots of fun! The painting is, of course, fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Loved reading about your process...the trials tribulations and trepidation!!! The piece turned out wonderfully and it is no wonder your client is pleased! What a great adventure!

  4. You were right - I was entertained and enjoyed every bit of this fun and informative post.
    The result of all your effort is fabulous and I mean FABULOUS!

  5. Thank you for sharing the back story, Diane. You can paint anything--I wish I could paint like you!

  6. diane, so incredible and so interesting to see behind the scenes!

  7. Diane- this is something I've always wanted to do...but never had the guts to attempt this. I'm a Vettriano fan, too....but a bigger fan of yours! This was so exciting to see all you went through to pull this off! GREAT -WORK- this is truly wonderful!! (and I can't wait to see what you'll be up to next!!!). :-)

  8. Wow! What a process! The results, of course, are fabulous! Thank you for taking us behind the scenes.

  9. Great work!

    With all the fab background images, you have the making of a short video showing the process and then finished painting.

    I do that with all mine and it's alot of fun. One can post the video on You Tube.

    One can better see the magic of art as it emerges in this manner However even if one shows
    what goes on during a painting,it never fully explains how art happens.

    Under such a spotlight showing the hard work, it's still magic

    Figurative painting is all I do and I have to say in that type of painting,bigger is indeed better. Otherwise one has no room to maneuver.

    Great Job! I'm sure the collector is thrilled!

  10. Thank you fellow artists for commenting!! I really appreciate it so much.

  11. Diane, this is fantastic....one of your best...it reminds me of the good old days...Congratulations on a beautiful piece!!

  12. Congratulations on finishing this wonderful piece, Diane! Thank you for sharing the process with us: very inspiring and encouraging.

    It brings a smile to know that you declined the commission opportunity even though you wanted to do it, and your client insisted that you paint it!

    Looks like you have a lot of good references for more paintings, too. I can't wait to see what else develops along this line.

  13. Stunning painting. I loved reading about your process.

  14. You are so VERY brave and talented. I love the finished piece! -Carolina E.


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