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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Step by Step to a Large Painting

'Solitude'              5x7          oil on panel         ©Karen Margulis
available $75
January has become a very busy month. I started the month with nothing happening except my participation in the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. I soon had two commission projects both with tight deadlines....and both requiring LARGE paintings. It is both exciting and a bit daunting. I am doing my best to keep up with the 30 in 30 challenge by doing a small oil painting of my commission studies. The painting above is one of them.

Last week I shared some of the progress on the hospital project.....four 30x40 pastel paintings. I am waiting for final approval of the paintings and I will post the final photos. Today I'd like to take you behind the scenes of the other project. This is a commission for a new hotel. I am painting sixteen 2x 5 foot wood panels that will become a part of 8 armoires for the guest rooms. It is a very interesting project since the paintings need to be acrylic. (yes I have painted with acrylics in the past it just isn't my main medium) Read on to see the project unfold.

The study board
I was asked to come up with some studies for possible paintings. The theme is deep south...think: Louisiana Bayous.  I submitted 10 small pastel studies (several of them I have shown on the blog already) I also painted small 4x4 studies and cut them in half since the paintings will be diptychs. Eight of my studies were chosen and the contract was signed. I awaited shipment of the panels.

The crate of panels in my driveway
 The panels were delivered by truck in a HUGE coffin sized crate. It was too big to fit in the studio door. Thankfully it was not raining. The crate was secured by many screws.

My husband Michael unpacking the crate
 It was very cold with rain on the way so we had to work quickly to unpack the crate. My husband Michael and I unloaded the panels and carried al 16 into the studio. Then we moved the empty crate inside since we will need it to ship the finished panels. Each panel was cradled in cardboard. It was some crate!

Since I don't paint much with acrylics and not this large I had to order some supplies. I needed to gesso the panels and there was a certain varnish that was required. I decided to use Golden Open acrylics in a limited palette. (since that is what I am used to)

My studio is filled with panels!
My timing was great! I had planned a trip to Chicago to visit my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.   Since the commission deadline is February 5th we had to get started with the gesso. I did a couple before my flight and Michael stepped up to the plate and finished them all over the weekend. He had company!

Heidi hanging out with her Daddy

Jennifur supervising (and walking all over a freshly gessoed panel)
I have permanent  gesso paw prints on the carpet curtesy of Jenny but the panels were finished and I was ready to begin. It was scary to see those huge blank panels. I couldn't say "It's only paper" because it wasn't and I didn't have extra panels! Luckily I had a dream last night on how I would paint these panels. I went through the painting step by step. I woke up confident and ready to start.

My workspace 
 I set two panels up on my biggest easel. I placed them side by side with the intention of painting them at the same time. They will be separated by 3 inches once placed in the furniture.  I used my small study and larger 8x10 pastel and the small oil painting to guide me. I began with a light pencil drawing of the big shapes.

my small study and reference which was a photo of a previous painting
The first step was to cover the white panels. I did a thin underpainting with orange, red and yellow. I am doing the same steps I took for the pastel and oil. This is as far as I got. Then I took a break and baked a cake (I wanted something sweet!)

After my cake, tea and blog break I am ready to get back to work! I will share the finish tomorrow.

The underpainting. The panels are 32 x 58 combined.


Diane Gillespie said...

Wow! Good job. Very exciting. I like the furry friends hanging out. Nice that your husband helped with the gesso while you were in Chicago. I know you work fast but the size of this work and useing another medium is impressive. Seeing the under painting colors blocked in helps me understand as your work develops. Thanks and enjoy more cake.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

How are you :)

I am Jing from Taiwan, now live in Germany.

Recently I discovered your paintings and am totally fall in love with your works. I am a self-taught painter for 2 years. Your passion towards painting and your daily blog post have given me courage to keep walking on my path.

Before I found you on the internet, I had a set of soft pastels sitting in the drawer for 6 years, they were still as good as new. But now they've become one of my favorite painting medium.

Just want to tell you how much I appreciate your works and thank you for sharing your painting knowledge on the net. You are a great teacher!

All the best,

Joey J said...

What a cool project, what are the panels?
They look like MDO, if they are you need to use a primer, acrylic gesso will fail, guaranteed. Place a pick of masking tape on the surface and rub down, then quickly pull off and see if it stays.

robertsloan2art said...

Wow! This is so cool. Great commission, now I wish I could stay in one of the rooms that has those armoires! Thanks for showing your preliminaries. It's fascinating to see you work in another medium. LOL Jennifur! She had to help with the project, glad you were able to smooth it out on the painting or use it for texture. She's a great cat.

I have to watch for four of them now that I've moved in with my daughter. They're all over everything and if I don't keep a clear path across my desk to the top shelves, they will make that path and kick stuff onto the floor.

ferrelli said...

Life never has a dull moment! How interesting to see all the painting you are doing! I always look forward to your blog in my emails to see what has come your way. Those panels are something special and I'm looking toward to the next posts to see how it all develops

judy baker said...

Great commission. Glad a hotel is hiring an artist like you to create something unique and beautiful rather than paint something to match colors on a bedspread!

Lauraine said...

This really is a fascinating project...The armoires are going to be stunning for sure! I am curious about your panels...they look like wood...are these birch panels by chance? Are the panels destined to become the doors on the armoire? Beautiful work as always! Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us!!
lauraine laframboise