Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Christmas Commission

Hey.. it's still January, I'm not to far behind?

I confess, I've been taking more pictures lately than I have been CP work... I'll be updating my photo blog today too! (That's my intention anyway). This was the view outside my front door yesterday afternoon.

So, finally here is the commission I started the end of October, and finished right before Christmas. To say this was a challenge would be putting it mildly.

My goal for this commission was to tell a story. A family story, that combined the past and memories into a "present day" time period. Are you confused yet? Also, this piece was to have not one portrait incorporated into it, but 5. 5, FIVE human, full bodied figures. Along with the old barn on the family ranch. Cowboys. Ranchers. Family. Oh, and maybe the dog. Emotion and Memories, so important to this story.

Size specifics: 14"x24" Colored Pencil. I used  all Prismacolor for this piece.

The main actors in this story: A father (who passed away several years ago) and 4 Sons.

Secondary actor: the family barn

The scene extras: Possibly the dog, the equines and the bovines.

The scene: When the boys were growing up, they would help their father go to the family ranch and round up and brand the family cattle every spring and fall.

The Setting: The old family ranch. The old Barn to be exact. Which is where the holding pens and stock tank are located. From my understanding, that tradition is still carried on today, the Sons and their Sons now, at the same family ranch.

Because I was using so many different resource photos, I needed to base my perspective and layout on one specific item, in order to make this work. I felt the barn would be perfect for that. So I used the perspective, horizon line and direction of light, shadows based on the original barn image.

Next, I went to work laying out the actors. I decided to use the "paper doll method" to save me time sketching over and over again. I printed and cut out the figures and stock, changing sizes and re-arranging before I settled on my final layout. 

Most important, while I'm using these photos to establish size and perspective, the only part of the actual resource images I'm able to use is one figure and the faces, plus the barn. All the rest I've had to make up myself, there are no images to rely on, just my original sketches.

I was told my drawing table looked like a CSI board.... I worked here until I ran out of room.

 I found myself needing more room to establish my vanishing points lol....

Finally... a rough final layout:

11/24/09 .. off and running!


Close up of the barn, which is itself a portrait.This is the first time I've used this technique on
landscape, I think it worked pretty well.

I also used a new method on the clouds. Still just prismacolor.  Loved the way they turned out. I shall
be doing that again!
Mostly though, I enjoyed doing the fire pit and the cast iron skillet and dutch oven. Still no reference except for what I've cooked with myself, but way fun to create!



 How big are those faces your working on? This is the largest one.


12/17/09.. Want to know how to give your client a heart attack? Tell her that you've erased a face at this late date! lol.. Not just any face, but the face of the person whom this gift is intended. Ut oh!

Then of course.. you have to put it back on...

One of the many reasons why I love my Uart....

12/23/09. Calling this one finished,
even though I would have liked to of had a couple more weeks to tweak it.

 Framed and delivered just in the "St. Nick" of time? lol..

I guess it's time to update all those images I've taken now.. so off to my photo blog I go. I hope you all enjoy this commission journey, it was indeed a challenge. Challenges are good though, they help us grow.

Thanks for visting and keep scribbling!!!


Pencil Sanity said...

Super job Toni. Loved watching your layout on this.

Dors said...

Amazing. What an incredible challenge. so much work to tell the perfect story. I am in awe.

Fantastic job Toni. I'm sure your clients are over the moon with

Beth said... the story line, characters, etc. Gives a whole new meaning to the piece. It turned out great! I would love to know what their responses were!

Toni James, Toni, Tj, pencils4me said...

Hi Maria! Thank you, it's nice to see you here.

Hey Dors!Thank you. He did love it, I recieved a phone call from him. I was told he was actually speachless when he opened it, which is also unheard of. lol. :D. It was a challenge for certain.

Toni James, Toni, Tj, pencils4me said...

Hey Beth.. long time no talk to lol. Thanks for stopping by. Maybe sometime next year I can get my current work up here too? lol. Oh.. as for the commission.. I may have to print it before long...

Eric said...

Look at you go! Five people with so much detail in such a small space. Incredible work.

Thanks for showing the great design and progression, to me that is more interesting than the finished work!

If you lived back in ancient times, I'm sure you'd be working for the emperor or something.

Teresa Mallen said...

Wow, fabulous job! Thanks for sharing all of the prep work. Many people do not realize all of the work that can go into a piece long before we pick up the cps!! I admire you for taking on such a challenging commission.

Ex-Limey said...

Toni, you constantly amaze me with your expertise.... This one is no exception. Great Job!

Toni James, Toni, Tj, pencils4me said...

Eric lol.. this one took more prep work than most. I gave you guys the readers digest version. :D. I'm glad you found it interesting, but I shouldn't be surprised. Hehe thanks for the confidence in my historical ablities.. they had cooks didn't they? lol.

Hi Teresa! Thank you! Oh boy, your right about the prep work. Especially on this one. I don't generally include mine on my blog posts, maybe I should more often. Do you?

Jean.. awwwwww your the bestest! thank you! :D

Gary Keimig said...

what a great blog. This is a fantastic piece. well done and I bet they loved it.
Since I do both a photo blog and 2 art blogs I am off to yours. Glad to have found your work

Toni James, Toni, Tj, pencils4me said...

Hey Gary, nice to "meet" you! Thank you for the nice comments. Two art blogs and a photo blog? Oh my.. and you still have time left? I'll be dropping by soon! Thanks again.

Dianna said...

I'm amazed Toni! Your process was painstaking! My hat goes off to you! Thank you for sharing the techniques and steps you took. The client usually has no idea of what is involved in such a timely project.
How does that saying go? Cost of pencils? ...$$$, Time spent making portraits? ...$$$, Cost of memories made in the portrait?...Priceless!! You just made someone's Christmas the most memorable ever! Congratulations!

Timbo said...

Amazing project Toni! You rock! Thanks for showing the process. Very interesting. You deserve a break to go snap some pictures.