I just love doing commission pieces for people! There is something about sitting back and feeling into the energy of the person and then trying to create the perfect art to portray what the person is looking for.
This particular piece was done for a good friend of mine as a gift for two of my friends who got married during the pandemic. They love spooky things so this piece was important and special for me to make.
This piece happened in a few parts, as do most of them. Part 1. The idea! She wanted the text “Death shall never part us” with skeleton hands. So I sat down and drew out a sketch. This part can vary from project to project. I usually sketch out a rough draft with the meat of the art. I then scan and do final editing and layout composition on the computer. I can move the pieces around and get a clean layout…and it cuts the time in half for me. (I went to school to be a graphic designer / tech guru so this will probably always be a part of my design process in everything I do.) Drawing text is not my strong suit but I’m OCD about things being proportionate and centered… Laying the text out on a computer helps me out A LOT and allows me to move different parts of the design around to get the best composition without having to redraw the image 500 times (which I have done in the past and am not interested in doing in the future)
Once the design has been finalized and approved I then trace the image on to the wooden board and began carving. There is a process video of the carving process located on my instagram account. You can view the video by clicking here. PROCESS CARVING VIDEO
The text threw me off way more than it should have. I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate that into the design with the carving. I had to sit with that for a few days until I decided that it was fine as is and then moved forward with the wood burning part. I can get very in my head when something feels off in the art and I have this wonderfully bad habit of seeing things very linear and will sometimes miss other avenues that are actually the solution. I am blessed to have various creatives that I will go to bounce ideas off of. (I hope they never get tired of my random messages and calls!)
Wood burning is seriously probably one of the most relaxing things for me. I get into a zone and block out the outside world. It can take me to a meditative state and I’ll come back hours later and wonder where the time went and how I actually did the piece. This piece was pretty simple with easy line work and minimal details. P.S. my cat Stag loves to help… I have another process video for the wood burning that you can view on my instagram by clicking here. WOOD BURNING PROCESS VIDEO
Once the line work is done I move on to the coloring. When I work on pieces before I even begin I will usually see the finished product in my head. It makes the creation process pretty easy. There is usually a flow to it. But once again, I have issues with text. The parts where the text are don’t usually show up finished in my head. I will have to flow with the piece as it’s created to see where that part wants to go as the piece grows. In this project I had to come up with creative ways to make it look right. The verbiage needed to pop from the piece. It is kind of a focal point after all. But it still needed to flow with the rest of the design. In the end, after staring at a blank square for a while I decided to just start painting and let the brush tell me what needed to go where.
I use water color washes to get the pigment laid down, but it also allows me to go and adjust if I need the wood grain to show through more in certain places. And most importantly mistakes can be rectified pretty easily. (Believe me, mistakes do happen, especially when you have 3 cats who love to help create!)
I can’t go into much more detail on how that process works because so much of it is just feeling into the art and intuitively just going with what feels need to be done. Once I finally got everything done in a way that felt right, I sealed the art. I always seal the watercolor with a varnish and once the varnish dries I paint a polycrylic protective finish over that.
I have to say, even though I had some struggles with this piece, I am so very happy with how this turned out!