Thursday, November 17, 2016

Autumn's Joy - Part 3

Here is the completed painting. I titled it "Autumn's Joy" because while I never knew Autumn, I could see her joy in each of the photographs I have seen of her–particularly in the photo that inspired this painting. It was my goal to capture that same joy in this painting. 

Standing next to the finished painting are Autumn's dad and mom, Phil and Jen Elgersma. They came to the studio open house we hosted to view the painting for the first time. As you can tell by this photo, it is a large painting!

On the back of the canvas I wrote the scripture that I used as my inspiration verse while I worked on the painting. It's a verse that speaks volumes in only 10 words.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." 
- Romans 12:12

Here are some of the people who came out to see the painting at the open house in my studio.  I enjoyed seeing so many friends, family and supporters of Autumn's Center. Click on the photo for a closer look.

Here is the painting installed in its new home in Autumn's Center in Spencer.  The text beneath the painting reads:

 "Three year old Autumn Elgersma of Orange City, Iowa, passed away on October 31, 2013 as a result of injuries she received from her daycare provider. Since her passing, Autumn's light has continued to shine and it is our hope that Autumn's Center will be a place of light for you."
-Jen Elgersma, Autumn's Mom

Being asked to create this painting was an honor and opportunity I will not forget.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Autumn's Joy - Part 2

After the decision was made to rethink the orientation of the photo of Autumn and make the final painting vertical, I took the image into Photoshop and began refining the composition. 

I wanted to make the focal point of the portrait her face. I decided to bring her her up close and crop out the distractions–things like the chair and most of the table.  Doing so brought attention to her face, but her hands still wanted to dominate. Cropping the hands, and moving them slightly improved the composition, and accomplished even more in that it was a way to frame Autumn's face.

I did a complete underpainting in shades of gold and a deep purple color. This helped build values  and gave a warm glow to the final painting.

As you can see here, I changed the table and added the paper with handprints. In the snapshot they are not present, but I felt including them better communicates why her hands have paint on them and completes that thought. It also adds another set of angular lines for interest.

I should also mention that I also gave a tilt to everything. The tilt gives more youthful energy to the painting too.

I then started building the final color passes on top of the underpainting. Painting the wet paint was fun and challenging.

I changed the color on the collar of her shirt from pink to purple–Autumn's favorite color.

My next post will show you the completed painting. Until then...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Autumn's Joy - Part 1

It was 18 months ago that I was contacted by Kim Scorza, the Executive Director of Seasons Center and we met at a local coffee shop.

Seasons Center is a comprehensive Behavioral Health Center that offers a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral health services to the people of NW Iowa. There are a number of offices in area towns, but they have renamed the facility in Spencer, Autumn's Center.

Autumn's Center was named in honor of Autumn Elgersma, of Orange City, Iowa who died on October 31, 2013 after being hospitalized for two days due to the abuse she endured while in the care of her babysitter. 

During our meeting, Kim asked if I would be interested in doing a large portrait of Autumn for the new center in Spencer.  In all honesty, I really needed to give some serious thought to whether or not I wanted to take on this project. It was a painting that would need to honor Autumn's memory, celebrate her life but also be a reminder of the tragic loss of her life at age three. I took a couple weeks to think about it and finally made the decision to paint it.

The portrait was to be based on this snapshot of Autumn sitting at a table finger painting.

The painting was to go on a large tall narrow wall just inside the front doors. I decided the painting need to be vertical to best accommodate the space. A rather large piece at 54"x66". 

This decision was based on the drawings from the architect. A smaller horizontal painting wouldn't have the impact of a larger scale piece. After this small sketch was done, the project remained in the that state until the summer of 2016 when I knew I needed to get rolling. Progress on the facility was coming along and the doors would be opening in the Fall. It was time to get serious about painting again.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Time to Lie Fallow

Fallow: –adj. 1. (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.

It has been a year since I've posted to this blog. 

As an artist, there are times where a great deal of output happens, the work just flows and the energy is high. This past year has not been one of those times. It has been a year to lie fallow.

I attribute much of this to the passing of my Dad. He battled from June of last year, his 80th birthday, until he passed away in November. It was a hard time for him, my Mom and our family. Spending time with him and time spent in and out of the hospital weighed on everyone. He was certainly a great Dad and his influence on my life is beyond anything I could begin to write here. It was not a time to put a paintbrush to canvas. And in the months following his death the urge to paint still did not happen. 

I was not without creative efforts. My daily graphic design work continued to stimulate creative energies and my iPhone Instagram photo passion has blossomed during this year. For some reason painting stopped until this summer. 

One of my favorite artists, Chuck Close, has a quote I always liked. He said, "Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work."

I like that and believe it for the most part, and a looming deadline on a commission I committed to 18 months ago pushed me to "show up". 

I do believe that the year to lie fallow has been a time to regain fertility to paint again. The commission is complete and ready to install and I'll be writing about it in a few upcoming posts. It feels good to be in the studio painting again, smelling the paint and mixing the colors. There is value in a time to reflect, observe and think. Life moves quickly and there is value in quiet moments.

A time to lie fallow.