Michele Times Two

When I first began offering commissioned portraits last year, my friend Michele was happy to pose for a portrait that I could keep in my collection to show prospective clients [below].  This year, a few friends pitched in so that we could present Michele with a smaller portrait [above, 16X20] for her birthday.  I like to think that this second piece gave me the opportunity to present Michele in a more personal, less theatrical light.  The first piece is far more glamourous, the second focuses on Michele's sweet eyes and impish smile.  My color choices for the second piece were influenced heavily by the neutral browns and beiges of Michele's house and her love for Ancient Egypt.  In fact, the pattern in the background was inspired directly by designs on Ancient Egyptian columns.  Since Michele also prefers realism over abstraction, I kept the piece fairly illustrative, taking it as an opportunity to use back-lighting to keep Michele's charming features soft.  I hope that she will enjoy her new painting for many years to come!


Recent Projects and Sources of Inspiration

What strikes me most about my last three commissions is that they are completely unrelated.  When creating custom pieces, I must be prepared for any number of different requests and challenges, and I tend to believe that my work actually thrives on this level of variety.  Painting the above three-panel divider for my friend Jennifer P., for instance, was a wonderfully liberating experience.  Jennifer was smitten by the free-flowing, colorful abstract patterns on the divider I keep in my studio (I enjoy wiping my brushes off on it), and picked out a color scheme that would match her home for a divider of her own.  She wanted a random-looking abstract composition, so I starting to play with washes, drips, and splatters, imagining branches in the rain as I plotted out the direction and balance of each element.  Because the panels are thick paper, I made sure that the runny acrylic would bleed through to the other side [see below]-- no matter which way she turns it, she will be able to enjoy it!

Phil's commission [below right, beside the painting that inspired it] was based almost entirely on one of my abstract color studies. . . he very much liked the composition, but needed a color scheme that would match his interior.  While at first glance the second painting may simply look like a copy of the first in different colors, I softened the lines and made a few subtle changes to make sure that the minty greens would not be overshadowed or become too jarring.  It is a much smoother rendition overall.  What does not show in the image is that I also employed the use of soft metallic copper paint in the new piece.  I met Phil at a local Hackerspace melting down aluminium cans, so I thought this metallic touch appropriate!

My third recent commission was a portrait; Janeil [below] was based on a photo taken of my client Rick's wife at camp in the 70's.  I know that Janeil likes to work on scrapbooks and make greeting cards and that her favorite color is purple, so I tried to incorporate all of these things into the composition.  As with a portrait I completed last year of Eugene and Georgia Baxley, my main reference photo was a scanned image of a small family snapshot.  I had to use a few school portraits of Janeil as reference to get an adequate likeness.  I find portraits of this kind to be incredibly difficult to do well because the reference material is often blurry or discolored, but it is also incredibly rewarding to be able to bring a cherished but faded or blurry snapshot to life in this manner!