As I work through a commission painting, here’s the steps I’ve found to take the pressure off painting a commission and make it fun.
Step 1: Review the Photo (might want to read this first if you haven’t)
Step 2: Value and Composition sketch
After determining if the commission suits you, now’s the time to sketch out your idea in simple monochrome. I’ve found a strong design or composition is mostly determined by values (lights/darks) more then color. Unless you’re a veteran pro (not me), it’s much more effective to keep it simple, not tackling value and color at the same time.
The goal was to emphasize the background drawing the eye from the foreground rocky point into the mountain range. One master at doing this was Albert Beirstadt and the Hudson River School painters. One trick he used to draw the eye into the background but still have some interest in the foreground was his use of values. Look how dark the foreground is compared to the background:
This is along the lines of what I’m wanted to do (in my style), so I made a rough drawing, darkening the foreground and lightening the background (below).
I also noticed the rocks probably will need to be moved a bit to the right to invite the viewer into the painting, rather than be a visual block. As with Beirstadt’s painting.
Lastly, circle the areas that are point of interest in the painting.
Hopefully, this will build a strong foundation for the rest of the steps. Next step, a color sketch.