Once the client is satisfied with the overall design and I know what their goals are in the commission, it is time to get to work.

Typically with my commissions there are lots of photos being incorporated into one image. I normally call them my “bakers dozen”.  Copying one photo is not my style. The painting needs to breathe and be its own entity. So the initial drawing needs to breathe and be flexible too.

With my trusty Sorg Easel ready to go I can start the drawing. This panel as I mentioned last week is a 1/2″ MDF panel cut to size with UArt mounted onto the surface. This makes the panel rather heavy. I think it is about 30 pounds. So it is a beast to lift.

I have had my Sorg Easel for many years now and I love it. It is my friend and since we spent a lot of time together on this project (about 6- 8 hours each day at the easel) I need a friend I can trust. The best part is that it is a counterbalanced easel so the panel can float up and down as I am working on it. Great for a size like this of 42′ tall. I can shove the painting up to the ceiling (luckily my ceiling is 9 foot tall) and work on their feet and then quickly move the panel back down to work on the top of the painting – all at my eye sight line. No hunching. Owchie… I am too old for that.

There are 3 different weights that come with the easel so the weight of the panel can be changed. I found the right weight combination at the the back of the easel to “counter balance” the weight of the painting. Then it floats up and down. So nice. If you are looking for an easel, I highly suggest the Sorg. David Sorg will happily help you out and will probably answer the phone if you call. This design is his baby so tell him I said hi …


Once the easel is set to move up and down easily I am set to start the drawing. Loose. Loose! No details. I need to refine as I go. There are so many relationships to consider… balcony to girl… girl to chair… mom to girl… gas lamp to size of heads… so I feel my way around…
With my good friend aluminum foil to catch the dust I am off…

Then some basic blocking… what is lit? What is not? (Sound familiar to those of you who have taken my workshops?)

I then work only on the background greenery before continuing on with the figures. I do this for three reasons. First, to eliminate as much “dust transfer” as possible to the cleaner, more complete figures. Once the background is nearly complete I spray it off with fixative so that area does not bleed into and contaminate the figures.

Secondly, the background greens will be a big part of the painting with regards to color. There is no way doing it last will help me. I need to “register” the figures off of this area. If not, I may paint them too light or too pink, etc… I need that green to tell me what to do next with them! So as the background gets more completed I pop in bits of the color from the dresses to make sure I am on the right track. The colors need to talk to each other.

Lastly, putting in the far background gives me a “win” up front and gets the easiest stuff out of the way. This is the most complex and difficult painting I have ever constructed, so by having an area nearly finished and that I feel good about up front will let me know that the adjustments and pitfalls coming up my way shortly will be ok…..

Once that feels pretty good I can start adding the railings and front porch… again, loosely… I have hope!!

More next week.

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