You can call it work, I call it pure enjoyment. Last Sunday I spent the day in Roswell on Mimosa Street painting portraits of the Brannon House owned by John Scroggin and his wife Lynn. I met them while painting house portraits many months ago on Sloan Street just a few blocks from this location. I can’t tell you how useful business cards are for an artist. I’m a graphics guy so I’m pretty comfortable with the design, production and printing but get someone to help you if you don’t have one.
Back to the work. I got the call Monday from John and as I remembered their interest at the time of our first meeting was to do a painting of John’s law offices. In the interim the structure was damaged in a storm that ran thru Roswell early this spring and they got the idea that it might be interesting to have a painting of the building while under repair. So with my card in hand they gave me a call to see if I was interested. Yes.
On Friday I drove over to do some scouting and discovered just how interesting this “office” was. It’s ca. 1890s home—a classic Southern structure with perfect proportions and right in my sweet spot. I spent an hour or so doing a few thumbnails for ideas and after a look at the weather forecast decided Sunday was the day to work. The house is only a block away from the old square and the Roswell Arts Festival was there this weekend. With rain all day on Saturday the throngs were out on Sunday. I arrived early and parked in the driveway only to me moved out to the street on request of one of John’s sons who was in charge of preventing illegal parking in their office. It was obvious that it was somewhat of a problem—he worked all day stopping intruders while I painted. I admit I was bit over enthusiastic—I don’t get a lot of commissions and I wanted it to come off without a hitch. I’ve had problems before and I’m still trying to work thru the proper procedure. Anyone would tell you that it’s a good idea to secure an up front partial payment but in this case it just was not practical so with the thought that I would be painting anyway I followed through. The pressure to perform plus exposure to hundreds of people walking by all day made for a real test of my metal. I’m use to explaining to people but everyone wanted to know why I was painting this boarded up house while the one next door was perfectly lovely. This was the story all day and as it wore on and I grew a bit weary and thirsty and hungry my patience grew thin. Some just want to talk but some stay and watch and that to me is a bit disconcerting. None-the-less I started with a straight on 12 x 12″ view that I thought would show off the impeccable proportions of this lovely lady. The sun was behind most of the day and I played it up with a very bight sky and and foreground. I had to carefully watch the values of the building up front to keep them well under the lights. I also had to watch that the roof did not get to close to the top edge (almost!) —when you frame it up the top still might be chopped off. Not much in the way of composition here but I did finagle the front a bit with some of the construction material to get the viewer’s eye pulled in.
After about four hours on the first one I set up to the left of the house for an 9 x12″ angled view. By this time the sun had switched over to the right side and as the afternoon wore on the light picked out some of the wonderful details. I suffered with one complete wipe off on this one before it ended up being the better of the two. Both have an interesting play of cool blues and pinks against the orange of the wood and reflections plus both are true plein air, with light being the star. I was worried that the construction elements would not read very well in oil paint but they have that boarded up look. I spent a total of about 8 hours painting mixed in with dozens of short visits and longer conversations with passer byes. After a few touch ups on Monday I emailed the images over to the clients. They loved them and want them both and now we are trying to figure out some frame options. They want me to come back and paint it again when it’s been restored. When I pick up a check all will be good, but until then I’m keeping my enthusiasm under control.