04. July 2013 · Comments Off on Forest Frolic · Categories: art

I’ve just finished a large painting, a panel that will be set into the hearth opening of a decorative fireplace. This one was fun – it was a bartered commission. In exchange for the piece, the client rented us a marvelous huge dumpster so we could finally dismantle the falling-down shed that dominates an all-too-visible corner of the property.

the bright side: no corpses or bees inside.

The bright side: no human remains or hornet nests inside… amazingly enough.

Metal was scrapped, tires were recycled (80+! with rims!) and in time, the site will be home to raised beds and bee hives. There’s still a lot of scrap wood to be burned, but it’s progress.

argh shed 2

Use your imagination. Raised beds! Bee hives!

My gratitude and enthusiasm were enormous, I wanted this one to be special. I knew there would be a lot going on in the panel, so I needed to work on the composition carefully. (I ALWAYS need to work on the compo carefully, it’s not my strong suit.)

I wanted a cozy scene, a country dance sort of affair with the woodland elements my client so enjoys in my work. I drew from a few sources for inspiration..

William Sidney Mount's Dance of the Haymakers

William Sidney Mount’s Dance of the Haymakers

I studied photos of musicians to be as accurate as possible with both instrument and hand positioning. I’m not a musician, and I know how annoying it can be when someone gets the details of your passion wrong.

This fellow demanded to be turned into an owl (he’s halfway there on his own) and dropped into the band.
(note: the painting is in the public domain.)

The Cello Player by Thomas Eakins, 1896.

I made my sketch on several layers in Photoshop, and shifted characters around until I found the best arrangement I could do. Some of them made cameo appearances in other compositions I was working on simultaneously.

digital sketch

I converted the image to grayscale, enlarged it, and made a tracing copy, and transferred it to my masonite panel. I had prepped the panel beforehand, with several coats of primer to seal it against impurities leaching through the paint from the board.

I worked at first in soft glazes to make sure the palette was pleasing.

base glazes

base glazes

I ultimately worked it up with richer colors though – I’m a sucker for those cadmium pigments.

Forest Frolic

Forest Frolic

It’s varnished and getting delivered tonight. I’ve made it available as a 12×12″ signed print on Etsy: