Having Fun Painting a Commission: Final Step, Scaling Up

This is the final step in a four-post series. Painting a commission work should not be a lot of pressure.  The reason for painting in the first place is to share what you love to do.  When you’re having fun, that really shows in the final painting. I encourage you to read, or at least scan, through the previous steps (they are short posts).

Step 1: Review the Painting
Step 2: Values and Composition
Step 3: Color Sketch
Step 4: Scaling Up

This is the fun part. You’ve made all the important decisions, now just paint! In this commission, my client liked the initial drawing and color sketch and decided to ditch the bench (totally agree with that).  I’m really happy with the result and EVERY step came into play, guiding me in the final painting. Here’s a short mental review:

18x24" Acrylic. A Commission work of the view from a hiking trail in Colorado
18×24″ Acrylic. A Commission work of the view from a hiking trail in Colorado

The concept: the background view is the important area. (Step 1). The client told me what she like about the reference photo, which told me the “story” is.

Darkening the foreground will push the viewer into the background view. (Step 2). With that concept in mind in step 1, I wanted the lightest area, what the eye goes to, to be the background, the darkest area, what the eye avoids, to be the foreground. Beirstadt is a great example for this style.

Getting the colors about right, but more importantly, the right value with color notes (Step 3). Looking at the photo, I tried to match the colors, but keeping the values in line with my sketch in step 2.  The values are so important!

The final painting:  I didn’t change much from the color sketch, except add some details. I had fun with the rocks. I kept them basically the same as the color sketch, but didn’t restrict myself from letting it unfold as I went. The point is the background, not the foreground. I also saturated the color a bit in the distant mountain to get those rich blues, but kept the edges soft and details to a minimum.  The mid-ground mountain had fantastic windy, path-like clearings, so I emphasized them to draw the eye to check it out.  I also noticed some kind of ground cover growing between the rocks, so a added them in the foreground for some variety.

I can’t wait to give this to my clients!  She and her husband hike in Colorado, so I really hope having this on their wall will be a reminder or inspiration to get out there and experience the real thing.

Thanks for letting me share this with you!


4 thoughts on “Having Fun Painting a Commission: Final Step, Scaling Up”

  1. I enjoyed reading about the process….and love the painting! We’ve done a lot of hiking in CO and this makes me want to go for more.

  2. Thanks for sharing this new project with us, Steve! I’ve learned a lot of new things about painting en plain air following your art adventures … Can’t wait for the next one! Happy New Year … full of “adventures”.

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