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Old 08-02-2005, 09:03 AM   #1
Carol Norton Carol Norton is offline
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Color studies for clients




It would be very interesting to see some color studies that are presented to clients for approval. How detailed should they be? How large? I have read/heard that clients should not see the actual beginning process of a portrait, so what do artists who present color studies to clients show them?
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Old 08-02-2005, 09:35 AM   #2
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
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Carol, right now I have a commission that's large(40" x 80") and compositionally complicated, so I'm doing a same-size 'cartoon' on brown paper in charcoal. I'm doing this for me but I'm letting the client take it home to make sure it's the right size for the room. If I have to add or decrease by a couple of inches I want to know now, before I make the canvases.

Making a color study would be a major waste of time for me in this case. I rarely do this anyway, mostly because I'd rather spend the time just drawing the client from life and making written notes to myself in the margins (you know, "YO + gray + white - add cerul? - v. ruddy cheeks, NY + IR" - this helps me later).

Anything more than a head and shoulders, I usually show the client a thumbnail (sometimes color, sometimes not) which is small (5" x 7", say) and not much detail in the head because the client will focus on likeness right away and I don't want them to see that in the initial stages, I want them to focus on composition and size.
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Old 08-02-2005, 11:39 AM   #3
Carol Norton Carol Norton is offline
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Overdone

Your response is gratefully received. The line between spending a lot of time on a "study" sounded like a waste of time to me as well. It could be a daunting task because submitting something detailed to a client that is a WIP could create more problems than necessary. I was hoping to hear that a color sketch didn't involve hours of work. As usual, THANKS. Perhaps I read too much!
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Old 08-02-2005, 12:31 PM   #4
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
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Hi Carol, there's a thread here that you should visit: http://forum.portraitartist.com/showthread.php?t=6024
Hope it helps.
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Old 08-02-2005, 12:35 PM   #5
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
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I usually give them studies in charcoal, color studies should not be big and should not have too many details.
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Old 08-02-2005, 12:44 PM   #6
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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I strongly feel that the "hours of work" involved in doing a color study, whether it's for myself to work out issues, or to show the client for approval, are well worthwhile. Color studies also sometimes take days. Still well worth the time, to me at least, and to many other professional portrait artists. Saves me weeks of time on the actual painting later.

Doing studies prevents me from having to do tons of rework on the actual painting, working out problem areas, piling up layers of paint that can compromise the archival integrity of the piece. More often than not, most parts of my final painting will have only one layer of paint because I know exactly what color, size, shape etc. everything will be before I paint it. I use the color study to work out variations of background, overall color temperature, which areas I want to lose into the shadows, etc. rather than testing out those ideas on the actual painting.

My studies are typically 11 x 14" or smaller. Many are 4 x 6". A very important painting or complex work might require a larger study. For the Governor of Washinton State I've done no fewer than four study paintings. I did three head studies, one of which was fully detailed and actual size, for his approval. The fourth study was an overall composition, about 11 x 14".

Folks at the very top of this profession do much more elaborate work in terms of studies than I do. Tom Nash, one of the very best in the business, does complete, fully developed, actual size "study paintings" of every part of the image before starting on the final canvas. Simmie Knox, who did the official portraits of the Clintons, actually paints the final portrait often two or three times, on separate canvases, to work out different issues.
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Old 08-02-2005, 02:43 PM   #7
Carol Norton Carol Norton is offline
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Avoiding Unnecessary Pitfalls

Claudmir and Michelle, thank you so much for your experienced points of view. I know how important intitial work is and wouldn't slack on that aspect for anything. My question really is what to show a client. In my somewhat limited experience, showing a quick color study delineating design and color without details caused one of my clients to be concerned about (even with explanations of what a "study" is) missing details. As these people were out of my state, I sent the color studies via email. My limited experience in this AS a business makes me want to prepare for success and to avoid unnecessary pitfalls. Mike McCarty's thread was very useful and interesting. Thanks for reminding me to look at it again. Getting perspectives such as yours is very helpful to a smooth start in portraiture. Thank you..
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:22 PM   #8
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Carol,

Most of my clients are too busy to sit for me, so like many other portrait painters I have had to develop a way of working from photos. Obviously my clients know I use photographic references, so it does not bother them in the least if I show them what I call a photo montage to give them an idea of the composition. Some clients even like to play with the pieces, or move them around, because it brings them into the creative process a little bit. Of course I explain that the finished product will not look exactly like the photos, but no one has been troubled by this so far. I guess they have faith in my process and my ability to produce work of a certain quality.

I wish I could show you the photo-pastiche I did for the Hon. Norma Shapiro, but the Eastern District Historica Society made me sign an agreement not to show any of the reference photos! I will post another example when I dig one up.

On the other hand, I do paint color studies for my own reference, when clients are willing to give me approximately an hour of their time. During the hour I don't tell them to stay still. I watch them while they talk, and get a feeling for their expressions and gestures. The results don't look much like them, but these studies are invaluable for me because the true color gets imprinted in my memory, so I have both a mental and a physical record of the color. Here's an example of a color study and photo reference of an artist friend. I also sketch people and make a lot of notes. Most people like to see the studies and sketches.

I guess my point is that clients, no matter how rich and famous, like to be brought into the creative process. They like to feel they have a hand in the result, so any way you can accomplish this will be beneficial. People expect artists to be a little eccentric, or at least different, so you don't need to show anything polished if that just isn't your style.
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:59 PM   #9
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Example of photo-montage

This is an example of what I show my clients, and below it is a bad photo of the completed work.

I had another thought: maybe clients like very clearly delineated previews of what the work is going to look like. Maybe THAT's why they like to see the photos!
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Old 12-14-2006, 12:36 PM   #10
Jeanine Jackson Jeanine Jackson is offline
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Samantha Color Note

Two of may favorite artists' color notes are from the still active Ariane Beigneuix and my teacher, the late George Passantino. Both of these Portraits Inc. veterans work(ed) from life making their small oil sketches to compliment photo studies used back in their studios. Since Ariane will occassionally agree to sell the client the color note as well as the portrait, she does hers on canvas about 12" x 9." George would NEVER part with his color notes, and often did these precious paintings on gessoed cardboard "to resist the temptation to sell them." I combine both philosophies in my color studies done on canvas board that are nfs (not for sale). The present imagea are my 10" x 8" oil study that sold the concept [adapted from life and a portrait by William M Paxton] and the 48" high oil on linen. I did the study with the client there and avoided comparing to my photo studies. I matched skintone and dress color and worked to establish values and design. That's it. No details. The subject returned for one more sitting before completion.
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Last edited by Jeanine Jackson; 12-14-2006 at 12:44 PM.
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