Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Vineyard

Wow! Its been a while since my last post...mostly caused by grief from Gustav. Hurricane evacuation is a growing trend here in south Louisiana, you should try it! My family and I tracked the storm's path in sunny Florida. Naturally, all projects were put on hold. When we got back almost two weeks later, (Hurricane Ike seemed like it was headed for our home!) and saw everything was fine, (for the most part -- my mom's gazebo was a tragic loss) it was back to work...on home renovations. To be more specific: a kitchen remodel.

It had wallpaper that mimicked tilework. Every other "tile" had a raised rose etching on it. On closer inspection, the wall looked like a checkerboard pattern, and this was repeated on two walls. The counter was pink (which was chosen by yours truly in the early 90s), and the window coverings were seafoam green vertical blinds. It was beautiful! In the 90s.

We wanted the kitchen to have style while keeping the project low-budget. First a design was necessary. Or more importantly, what colors appealed. If we stayed true to the rest of the house, reds, golds and other fall colors would be used. That plan actually lasted three full days. Clearly, finding colors that would appeal to every member in our house would be a problem, and I'm not the picky one. I'm not!!

My sister found some real tiles that looked great to us all, and from there, the project took off. We considered different ways of dealing with the countertop, from a stainless steel film to spreading stone. It had to be durable and it had to look good. We chose paint. It couldn't just be flat color -- been there, done that. I personally wanted it to blend with the rest of the house and our new dishes. I chose a mahogany butcherblock look. My sister suggested a chandelier (as a joke?), but once the idea took root, we found one on sale. Cue Hurricane Gustav! Upon our return, it was time to replace the seafoam vertical blinds, and we put up white shutters.

My role in this was mostly painting. The walls, of course, but I also created a "wall grille" behind the stove, a mural complete with a grapevine and the mahogany countertops. The theme that developed: a vineyard. Its beautiful! We went from pink, seafoam and burgandy to lilac, gray-green and white. Here are our before and semi-afters. Tell us what you think. Are we worthy of Rate my Space?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Italian Room With a View: Part Two

Well readers, I've finally took the next step that every creative person makes: directing. What you're about to see is the stages of development of a mural. You'll note that three walls are being worked on simultaneously so as to keep the painting in proper balance. The whole process took about 3 months. Does that may seem long to you? My schedule allowed me to work just two days a week, so if you want to be technical about it then it was about 10 days. Please sit back, turn up your speakers and enjoy!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Italian Room With a View: Part One


La mia Stanza Italiana con una Vista: Parte Una

Hey, when in Rome...Along with portraiture, my services include paintings of botanicals, landscapes and murals. I recently talked with someone who was interested in the latter. My potential client wanted a peaceful retreat in her master bath. An Italian retreat to be specific. She already owned a painting that I could use to get an idea of just what she was going for.

We talked about a mural that covered two walls, but when seeing the actual working area, it was decided that a 3-wall view would be best. Better and better! The bathroom had 9' walls, two white doors I couldn't paint over, and an overall bay window shape. This Italian view, when completed, would face the sunken tub. Talk about relaxing! The walls and fixtures were neutral, so it would be easy to start the process. I took measurements and several pictures of the space, and gave my client several scenic options. Below, you'll see what I had to work with.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Stealth Skills

One of the reasons I love being a portrait artist is because I'm part of the surprise. Portrait paintings make the best surprise gifts! A recently completed portrait fell right into that category.

This particular portrait was to be presented as an anniversary gift in May. Part of the challenge was being sneaky around the gift-receiver: the husband. He always seemed to be around! You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to get the job done -- ducking behind columns, hiding in the bushes, crawling though the a/c shafts...Okay, maybe I didn't go that far. That costs extra. But my stealth skills were called on to retrieve the photo to work from, and to hand-deliver the finished painting. The rest was up to the wife, who performed her part admirably.

If a portrait client frequently moves, like this couple, its important to consider the longevity and practicality of the painting. You want them to keep it forever. With that information in mind, I wanted the painting to fit in with whatever decor they chose. I knew they both loved the color red, so I made sure to use that in the clothing. The neutral colored background features my latest learned skill: knifing. It was the first time I'd tried out this technique on a portrait, and I think I did a decent job. I caught up with them a few weeks after the anniversary date. They were so pleased with their painting, especially the husband. I love surprises!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Nephew, 1st Grader-to-Be!

I have personally participated in three graduation ceremonies. The first was my graduation from kindergarten. It was held in the auditorium of Leon Godchaux Grammer, and had a graduating class of....well, I can't remember that much detail. I was five! What I do remember was that I had to recite a speech, which I did perfectly, thank you, and that I was wearing a beautiful white dress that my mom had made. I still have some pictures. Kindergarten was awesome!

Now my nephew is graduating from kindergarten! I'm so excited for him and his parents! Will he have the little diamond hat with tassels? Does he have to dress up? Will he have a speech too?! I hope his parents take plenty of pictures. I can picture it now, all the little gradu-- Ok..this just in...
"No graduation ceremony is to be
held for the kindergarten class of 2008."
Oh. Nevermind.

Malakai is a total boy. His favorite color is red; he loves cars, sports, video games and more. This kid is active! I captured all of that information and attitude, and put it on a canvas. Yes, his love of cars too. As you can see below, I included one of Kai's favorite cartoon characters, (seriously, that movie is on all the time!) Lightening McQueen. The car he's "playing with" is a Ford GT40, and is what inspired Pixar's profile of the animated character. I also chose that model to portray a deeper meaning: the fact that he's growing up. Congratulations Malakai!! We're proud of you!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My New Strategy

Part of the struggle of a portrait artist is not only attempting to make a portrait look like the subject, but also to find the right coloring for his or her skintone. You must know what colors to mix, what colors compliment or highlight each other, and even what colors to stay away from. Trial and error is the tactic I've been using. I've gotten pretty good at knowing what works best for certain skintones, but for others...well, let's just say that my tactic can get pricey.

I decided to try something different for my most recent portraits. I bought a book. Not just any book, a color mixing recipe book for artists. Yes, there is such a thing! This excellent resource guide is especially for portrait artists. It lists 500 color combinations, has recipes for skin for several nationalities, suggestions for eyes and even hair. Of course, not everyone is the same and allowances must be made, but for the most part the book is great!

With this new strategy, I'm not using as much paint and I have a starting point for what to use. I've also found that my work is going much faster, so now I'm able to start new projects before I've met my previous deadline. Bring on the new clients!

Monday, March 24, 2008

My New Offer!

I once found myself in a situation where I had to complete two commissions in the same week, and had five inquiries to answer at the same time--seven if you count my clients. Not an easy thing to do single-handedly.

Although its good that my name is out there, and people are interested in my services, I don't particularly want to find myself in that situation again. I thought about what I could offer potential clients if I find myself double-booked. I don't want to turn any away, but they usually have a set date of when they need a completed portrait in their hands and I just don't have the time.

I looked at what some other portrait artists were doing: they offered Gift Certificates. I thought that was a nice idea because it allowed a gift-receiver to be more involved which may take time, therefore, more time for the artist to work on other projects. So I designed some certificates based on what other artist's do, and offered that as part of my creative services. I've a few inquiries from last minute gift-givers, but no rushing stampede for them. And to tell the truth, I wasn't satisfied with offering Gift Certificates. Anyone can do that.

I happened to be in the gift wrap section of a store looking for...I forget, when I saw Gift Card bags and holders. I thought to myself, "These are so cute! Too bad I don't need a Gift Card for....HEEEYYYY!!" Um...I kind of slow. To make a long story short, I made a few inquiries of my own to some companies who specialize in making all kind of cards: credit, hotel keys, gift cards and more. From that, as you can see below, I have something new to offer! Gift Cards!

Friday, February 29, 2008

My Sunrise and Sunset

My family had already decided that I was to start a new painting to replace another. The subject of the future piece didn't matter; it just had to incorporate the colors and blend with the theme of the room. I decided to do another landscape.

I bought a 30x40 canvas for this painting. I was so excited--this was the largest stretched canvas to date. Not counting the murals. The living room, where the landscape would be displayed, was getting a complete makeover. Once the painting was completed, the work on the room would commence. My painting was to be the inspiration to get the job done. I got home and saw that my precious canvas had a hole in it!! A one inch hole!! Well the entire project became pointless and stupid. My life was over, so who cared about the living room?!

After about an hour's worth of dark thoughts, I had an epiphany: museums hired artists to restore paintings all the time. Priceless pieces with real rips, tears and holes that needed major surgery. Maybe I could repair my canvas too. I looked up some information, and though I didn't find anything on ripped blank canvases, I did find information for tears in paintings. Its the same concept, so formula for that should work, right? After all, it couldn't get any worse. So I read the instructions, tinkered with some chemistry, and voila! It worked! For 20 seconds. Stupid "specialists".

A closer examination and a gingerly poke revealed that the tear didn't pucker as badly as before. I took some gesso, and sealed the seam. I let it sit for 24 hrs, and then attacked it with my blow-dryer which I set on cool. I then started, and completed my painting, of which I tried a new technique: knifing! More about that later. Until then, tell me...can you see the hole?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Disappearing Client!

Whoa!! I missed last month's report! So I'll use January to tell you what been happening lately, and why I must say my goodbyes.

Not goodbye to this blog, faithful readers, but to a painting that's been displayed in my home for almost two years. A client commissioned a landscape in mid-2005, right before Hurricane Katrina hit. I took the in-progress canvas with me when we ran from the storm, just in case. Funny thing is that we ran directly into the storm! But that's another story. The following months post-Katrina were complete chaos! Back at home, along with my family, I was volunteering with a rebuilding program and helping out with the household to even think about painting. Like I said, complete chaos. I hope we don't have to go through that again anytime soon.
When things settled down some, I finally got around to the landscape, and finished it in late 2006. I contacted my client, and emailed a picture of my work. Everything was satisfactory! My client told me she was moving and would pick up her painting soon. That was two years ago! I emailed periodically to remind her of the painting, but never received an answer. She had moved and I didn't even have her forwarding address! Eventually, even the email address stopped working. And so, my lovely landscape has been displayed in my house, and admired for nearly two years.

What surprised me recently is that my client contacted me! I learned that things had been really hectic during those two years. She still wants her landscape and I finally have an address to send it to. My problem now? Soon we'll have a blank space where the painting prominently hung. What to do? What to do?