I received a request for commission for an original art piece 10 days before Christmas. I did not think there was any way I could get it done and shipped to arrive by Christmas, but somehow I managed to pull it off! Mostly, it was because the woman I was working with (Vicky, a fellow StrongFirst friend and all around amazing lady!) gave such great feedback and prompt responses (we exchanged 50 emails in 10 days to get this one done!)
This was her request:
“I would like you to create an original work of art of two famous Cardinals baseball players in one of their iconic moves – hugging or jumping in the air. They are Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina – who are a pitcher catcher pair. “
She included a photo of her favorite “iconic” pose of them jumping into each other’s arms. It was to be a gift for her son-in-law who is a sports writer (and I am assuming, a big Cardinals fan).
Mind you, I have not followed baseball since I was 9 years old and was in love with the 77-78 New York Yankees — but because of that childhood experience, I understood what it meant to be a fan, even if it had been a while. I remembered the big poster I had as a kid that pictured all of the Yankee players, and how I had hung it right next to my bed. I was in awe of them, I looked up to them.
Vicky said she wanted an acrylic painting that was original, and “captures the energy and spirit of the pair”. So I got to work — not with the paintbrush, but with the internet. Who were these players? I read about them and looked at lots of photographs of them. For me that is the first step, to try to really connect with what I am painting. I wanted to be able to see in them what her son-in-law would see.
Then I got to work with Photoshop and other photo processing apps on my Ipad. I am so happy that I learned these apps because I really rely on them now for coming up with ideas before I paint. So I cut the image of the men out of the photo she sent, and them played with the background a bit. I had lots of digital variations, but I picked 2 to send to Vicky, just to see if I was on the right track:
Luckily, Vicky told me they were both along the lines of what she was thinking. After discussing with her daughter, they picked the lighter one, but said they did not want the lettering.
So next is where I start the actual painting process. I knew that the lighter background would be difficult in acrylic (as this design is better suited for watercolor), but I was also pretty confident I could get there eventually! I let Vicky know it was a possibility I could get it done for Christmas, but I was not certain. I tend to be a fast painter, drawing on that original inspiration and excitement to fuel my work, and stopping when the well is dry. I am not good at the finishing touches, and often have to really push myself through those steps.
I was having some trouble with the background for sure. The nice thing about acrylic though, is that it is easy to paint over and make changes. Here are some of the not so great progress pictures:
So yes, definitely having trouble. So I went back to my original design, and lightened up the whole background as a way to start over.
Well this helped a lot! From here I just tried to capture some excitement and stick to the limited color palette. Once I got the background where I wanted, I went back to add more definition and detail to the players.
When I finished up, I sent Vicky the final shots to see if she had any last minute changes:
And she was very happy!
AND … I finished in time to get it out to her by FedEx. It arrived at 8PM on Christmas eve!
I am so grateful for the many different opportunities I have had to do commissioned work in my short time now as an “official” artist. And I am so blessed with being fortunate enough to be able to rediscover and pursue a life long passion.
Can’t wait to start my next project!