Birds at the Feeder (Commission): Step 1 Concept and Design

As in my previous posts about working through a commission, you can easily turn something stressful into an enjoyable journey.  Good communication and breaking it down into steps is the way to go and if you have fun, it will show in the results.

Step 1: Concept and Design

My client’s husband likes the birds in the area and made a platform feeder for the backyard.  As a gift to him, she’d like to have two cardinals and a chickadee around the feeder.  Also, they notice the cardinals often take turns at the feeder, the other close by standing guard. The chickadee, well, that just an awesome bird. Gotta have it.  Lastly, there are a lot of cedars nearby, so having a dark cedar green as the background would feel right.  With a quick generic sketch we both liked, the concept was clear. All this information is pure gold when it comes to putting the painting together.  It’s becomes the story behind the painting.

I did a generic sketch when I was with her to brainstorm ideas and we both found a basic design we could use.  From that design, I did these quick sketches below:

Two option with the canvas in portrait. The left sketch has the male cardinal in the tree "standing guard", while the female eats.
Two option with the canvas in portrait. The left sketch has the male cardinal in the tree “standing guard”, while the female eats.
Landscape orientation options.
Landscape orientation options.

Any of the sketches could work from a design standpoint, but the bottom one in landscape orientation seems to combine all the aspects of design,  doesn’t minimize any of the birds (especially the chickadee), puts one cardinal on guard duty and includes the entire platform.  Winner. So, with a solid design, it time for the color sketch! (next post)


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