Commission: Life is for Living

Commission: Life is for Living

The person who requested the above piece sent me many pictures from her life. She wanted them collaged as a background, but did not necessarily want them all visible.  She wanted the above quote and sunflowers.

When I was done, I wrote down all the steps I did to create this piece.  Those details follow.  My customer loved this commission.  I love art because being in the creative flow makes me happy; but creating art that someone loves...that's really something special.

How I created this piece:

The board is 16” X 20” X 7/8” birchwood art board.  The first step was to add gesso, like primer.

Then, of course, I gathered the pictures from my customer.  I adjusted the color and lighting and restored old pictures as best I could in Photoshop and sized each picture.

They were all printed on my Canon inkjet printer on Canon matte photo paper and Canon ink.  I’ve learned that using the name brand makes a big difference in the quality.

I also took the text of a few of her special stories that came with a picture and put them on antiqued looking paper to include with the pictures.

The pictures covered the entire board except for a small strip on the bottom right, where I added a floral design and a map of Poland from the 1920's because one of the pictures was her grandparents' wedding photo, and they were in Poland.

After I arranged the pictures, I took a picture, mocked up a design and sent it to her for approval.

Then I glued all the pictures to the board. Each picture has 3 coats of matte medium.  The first coat goes on the board, the second on the back of the picture, and the third on top of the picture. This helps prevent bubbles.

Next, I covered the entire board with Golden brand fluid acrylic quinacridone nickel azo gold mixed with glazing medium to make the paint transparent.  After applying a small amount of paint, I dabbed most of it off with an old t-shirt, so it gave the photos an antiqued effect.  Then I added other fluid acrylic colors.  The color behind the letters is Anthraquinone Blue.  I tested all my blue shades before deciding on that one.  I painted 2 coats to ensure the letters would pop. I blended all the colors using the glazing liquid.

The letters and the white flowers were done with my Cricut cutting machine using card stock paper.

I stenciled the blue flowers because she asked for Texas blue bells.

After I did a commission for my sister, who wanted sunflowers, I swore I’d never do them again.  For her piece, I painted each petal individually.  But for this piece, I figured out that I could mix the yellow paint with light molding paste.  I taped the stencils to the board and put masking tape in the middle of each flower, then I used a palette knife to spread the yellow molding paste.  Then I VERY carefully lifted up the stencil.  I did the same thing for the stems.  For the center of the flowers, I used gloss gel mixed with black paint and “blobbed” it into the middle for a textured effect.

I added glass beads to the flower on the top right after she told me she liked them.

The butterflies and dragonflies were also made with molding paste, then I painted them yellow, cut out papers I made using a Gelli plate, and pasted them with heavy matte medium. I created their bodies using music from a vintage music book.

The grass at the bottom was drawn with a green charcoal pencil.

I shaded the leaves slightly with different colors of green paint and added a shadow with black charcoal pencil.

I took pictures of the entire piece along the way and turned them black and white to see where I needed more contrast, and as a result added borders in places, like the dots and the swirls at the top.

When I was done with all of that, I felt like it needed more pops of color and that some of the pictures were begging to be brought forward.  I especially felt like her father needed to be prominent in his WWII uniform.  So, along with her father’s picture, I reprinted the Adirondack chair (for its red pop), her travel buddies because they represent friends, living, loving and exploring, the yellow hat and the bee for the color pop, and the car, because I have car envy.

Lastly, I shaded the edges with charcoal and painted the sides black.

I photographed it using photo lights with umbrellas.

When I was 100% satisfied, I’ll sprayed it with spray varnish, then my boyfriend added a hanging wire to the back.

Finally, I packed it safely and shipped it using “Pirate Ship,” which I mention because anyone can use it, and it is significantly cheaper than using UPS or USPS directly.  So next time you need to ship something, check it out.

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