Clipper Commission

Clipper Ship Emerald Isle

I just finished this painting of the Emerald Isle, a clipper ship built 1853 in Bath, Main. The client commissioned this to commemorate her ancestors, several of whom immigrated to the United States aboard the Emerald Isle in 1868.

With some information about the ship and the ancestors’ crossing, my first step was to do a series of thumbnails with different perspectives, croppings, and the ship in different attitudes. I sent this sheet with several of those to the client to begin our dialogue about the composition. Over and over I’ve heard artists and illustrators caution not to include any thumbnails you wouldn’t want to paint, because invariably, those will be the ones the client will choose.

Well, of my thumbnails, I didn’t really like the composition or perspective of #3 or #6, but I thought I would include them for variety’s sake. The client liked #6 🙂 With a little discussion about what she liked about 6 and the compositional and dynamic advantages of #2 (my favorite), we were able to make a plan to adjust #2 to suit us both.

Clipper Thumbnails

Next, I prepared a larger sketch and value comp implementing the adjustments from the thumbnail. When the client approved that, I moved on to painting.

Clipper ship Emerald Isle commission value comp.

Though I paint on both canvas and panel, if I have the choice I usually go for panel. Gessoing it myself, I can not only control the overall texture, but also that of specific areas.

Once the board was gessoed, I made my first time-robbing blunder. Every project has to have one or two, so I am happy that this one wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have any transfer paper on hand—so I decided rather than go to the store, I would just make my own. I sprinkled a sheet of thin sketch paper with graphite powder and rubbed it in with isopropyl alcohol. It looked pretty good and I proceeded to make the transfer tracing from a printout of my sketch.

When I pulled the sketch and transfer paper away, it revealed a mess of graphite in which I could sort of make out the crumbly outline of a ship. I had used too much graphite powder and it caked pretty thick in some places. I wiped away of as much as I could and re-gessoed. While the gesso was drying I made a trip to the store to pick up some transfer paper ;).

Process shots of clipper ship Emerald Isle Commission.

Finally with a good transfer, I went over the drawing again by hand, sealed that with matte medium and did some light acrylic washes to establish a little color and value. Then, with the acrylic dried I switched to oils and painted the sky. Next I did the sails, then half the water. I painted the hull before the water on the right side so that I could let it mostly dry before doing the waves that overlap it. Once it was all painted in. I spent time making adjustments etc. and then I did some thin glazing with burnt sienna (my favorite pigment) to help tie the colors together—I think I’ll have to make another post later about my approach to color. I hope you enjoy.

Clipper Ship Emerald Isle commission on Easel.

Landscape Commission

Colorado mountain winter landscape oil painting ©Jameson Gardner Art

This is the landscape I was working on a few weeks ago. The client was giving it as a gift, so I’ve held back on posting about it.

I started out with a few thumbnail sketches that I sent to the client. The bottom right was approved so I got to work.

Work in progress winter landscape oil  painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art

I toned the canvas with burnt sienna. It’s one of my favorite colors, and it make for nice temperature contrast when you are painting a lot of cool colors over it.

Work in progress winter landscape oil painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art

Work in progress winter landscape oil painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art

I tend to paint pretty thin. I usually move across the painting filling in areas at medium finish and then going back over it for details. That, of course only works because I sketched in the composition first. When painting from life, it works better for me to bring the whole painting up together, rather than moving across it.

Work in progress winter landscape oil painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art

Work in progress winter landscape oil painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art

Work in progress winter landscape oil painting. Mountains © Jameson Gardner Art