A New Commission – the Background
Barb and John have been regular collectors of my paintings for about 5 years now.
They’re active in a number of the arts, and I see them at nearly all of the shows that I do, as well as gallery openings in the area. They’re genuine, down to earth, relaxed personalities, and the pleasure I get when they walk into my booth at one of these shows has surprisingly little to do with the fact that they buy a lot of paintings.
They were also part of one of the amazing coincidences in my life.
Several years ago, I was in Washington, DC visiting a friend. I had an afternoon to myself, so I spent it at the National Gallery. For the first few hours I enjoyed the company of Suzanne Lago Arthur and Elizabeth Floyd, who were both there doing some copying.
When they needed to get back to their work, I continued through the museum on my own. The central rotunda of the gallery is a large space, several hundred feet across, ringed with enormous black granite pillars. There was a good crowd in the gallery, so there were hundreds of people in the rotunda itself when I walked in, all talking away and enjoying the day.
Being the kind of space that it is, the acoustics are unusual and in some points excellent – voices will bounce and carry in odd ways so that normal conversational tones can in some places be heard across the entire space.
And I recognized a voice.
I made my way through the crowd, and sure enough, on the other side of the rotunda, Barb and John were talking with the friends that they were in town visiting. I wish I’d thought to take a picture, because it was one of life’s truly neat little moments.
Back to the present
They recently asked if I would do a painting to sit in an unusual place, and invited me out to their suburban Boston home to see the space, and also have a look at their amazing collection which I’m proud to be a part of.
From the foyer, there is a wide entryway into the dining room, and the space sits above that arch – about 1 foot high and 5 feet wide. The wall is angled, the interior light is excellent, and the space itself is prominent in the home, so it will be a dramatic location, and I realized it would give us the opportunity to do something fun and special.
We had a few conversations about what kind of painting to place there, and ultimately decided that it would be a triptych of marbles; each panel being 7×16 inches.
I wanted these to have the blue sky background I’ve used in some similar paintings, mainly because it would give a suggestion of there being clerestory windows over the arch. Since it’s an entry way, I thought it would also be fitting to make it into a real procession of marbles, not merely a grouping.
I presented them with a quick color sketch of my idea, which they loved. There was some question about the precise dimensions for each panel and how much wall space should be around each one as a border. To eliminate any guesswork, I enlarged the tiny sketches and printed them out as full-sized mock-ups, which they were then able to put over the arch and see exactly how the final paintings would look in that space.
A few minor adjustments about size and color tones, and we are now good to go.
So this week I’ll be crafting the panels, which I think will be an interesting project in it’s own right. I’ll be showing progress right here, so stay tuned!