Friday, September 20, 2013

The custom portrait process...and "inside the studio" insights.

It's his birthday, he's in his 70's. He is getting married. 
He started coloring his hair a little...
His family wants to give him something special.
A Portrait. From me!
I get these photos through email, and put together a quick sketch to capture the best of both of them.  I picked the photo of "her" from above [her eyes were the biggest] "him" from the top photo, and his hair color from the one on the right.

Quick Sketch in Paint on Canvas

After drawing and painting, I begin the process of cutting up hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper. What started out as a simple mosaic process has become an incredibly detailed method...I've been doing this for so long, it's just second nature and difficult to explain!

There is a set of old bedroom furniture in the studio [it was mine when I was a kid] - all junk mail, old calendars, postcards, menus, fly cards, card stock, greeting cards and other ephemera go into those drawers. 

Before I start a new project, I spend a few hours going through that stuff - cutting it and sorting into colors...those piles go into other drawers.
Back to the easel, I sort the colors I've chosen to use by shade and lay them out on a large table. I work one color at a time, cutting and pasting [glueing] each piece one at a time, cutting again and again to fit. Sometimes, they're nothing but a sliver... I might need tweezers to hold the tiny piece, I might need an exacto to trim... The process takes hundreds of hours... during this time, I am looking at the subject's photos...constantly going back and forth, tweeking whatever I need to "get it right."

Thank goodness for NPR and Pandora and PBS online... I can listen to stories, music, comedy and might learn something while I am working or discover a new artist whose music grabs my attention.

Sometimes one of the dogs wanders into the studio. Usually Farfel, who wants me to hold her, but that ain't happening. But she will sit on my hot pink chair and whine... I wish I had a baby bjorn for dachshunds.

In the morning hours, after I have my tea, I often work in whatever I was sleeping in the night before. T-shirt, Yoga pants...Hopefully, no one will come to the door. I work odd hours, all day, with breaks to check my email and see what my friends are doing on Facebook... or talk to friends or family... always wandering back in and picking up where I left off. I am back in the studio at night - often WAY into the wee hours. When I am in the mood...the "zone" I don't know where the time goes. 

The studio is carpeted and I am always trailing it around - embellishing the house with slivers of paper that have stuck to my toes or my socks... and at some point, vacuuming is necessary. Byproduct of my work.

After all the paper is applied, I go back and repaint the eyes, teeth, whatever makes sense. Whatever colors you see - that's the color of the paper. After 24 hours, I apply a sealer and UV coating. Edges of the canvas are painted...usually black.

Here's a small pic of the happy couple [a little glare on the right side] before it got shipped away to enhance another home.

By the way, I don't make my art for me... I make it for YOU!

Thanks for reading!

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