The Creation of a Project for a Commercial Space

I have a lot of work to do. I should be painting right now! I’ve just gotten back from an out-of-state trip for an upcoming project and thought I’d share a little of the process. From someone’s initial request, how does the artist get the ball rolling with all the decisions to be made?

I was contacted by my gallery who has clients opening a new restaurant. They’ve actually bought my work in the past and were interested in a large painting of light-filled trees as the centerpiece over the site’s fireplace. I was already planning a trip to the coast, so what’s another few hundred miles to go meet with them—I agreed. I met the owners and their decorator on site, took notes of what they had in mind and photographed the setting, measuring the fireplace width. Then I followed the owner to the location of the trees they wanted in the painting. More notes. I also photographed an idea they liked from a book with a red dirt road, which turned out to be useful later on. I came back in the evening when the light was streaming through the trees to my satisfaction and made the rounds of the area with my camera. I think of these as Light Safaris because I’m trying to be in the right place at the right time to capture the elusive lighting I want in my paintings. I came back early the next morning and did the same thing before heading home.

The gallery had already discussed framing, pricing and sizes in preparation for a contract. My note taking mostly consisted of what they wanted as far as subject matter. Once home, my first step, as always after a photo expedition to a new place, was to look through my raw photos, making a note of which images would work for the project. Next, after waiting a day, I went back to those photos and looked more closely, opening them in Photoshop to begin cropping, resizing, adjusting lighting and color, and placing elements I’ve clipped from other photos. As an example, I actually cropped a section of the red dirt road from the photo I took of the book and pasted it into my photos in a grassy area with the right trees, and it looks amazingly good, though I hadn’t planned on doing this. I saved all these edited photos in a folder for the project, then looked at them the next day, selecting those I thought would look best in the space. I also prepped the image I’d taken of the fireplace in the room of the restaurant where the painting will hang and then pasted each of the painting ideas, to scale, onto the fireplace to show what it would look like in situ. This should give everyone involved in the selection a good idea of the finished piece. Then, I emailed all the photos to the gallery to pass on to the decorator and owners. I will keep you posted on the project.