For the past several weeks, I’ve had a really cool project in the works that I’m excited to finally be able to share.
I was contacted by a gentleman who told me that the recently completed painting ‘Transported‘ reminded him of his grandson, who loves space, rockets, and the Space Shuttle in particular. He reminds me of myself at his age…and at my current age. We passed some ideas back and forth, and eventually settled on a plan to create a commission painting based on the composition of ‘Transported’, but instead of depicting a boy reading about futuristic space travel adventures, a boy would be shown wearing his astronaut costume, playing in a homemade, cardboard and duct tape space shuttle, and imagining the real thing.
The composition was not originally conceived as a portrait, but after seeing some great images of the young man in question dressed in his astronaut outfit, it was pretty obvious that he would be the perfect model the painting he inspired. Now I’m thinking of the project as part stand-alone, thematic/narrative painting, part physical portrait, and hopefully, part metaphysical portrait as well. I won’t settle on a final title until the painting is finished, but for now, I’m calling it ‘Young Astronaut’ as a working title.
After we agreed on a the basic idea, I did some sketches to refine the composition.
Based on the sketch above, the clients were able to get some excellent reference photos of the young astronaut. Working from those, some photos of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and a cardboard and duct tape mock-up of the pretend shuttle, I made this final, to-scale drawing of the composition:
With all my reference materials assembled, a 30×18 inch Aluminum Composite Panel all primed and ready to go, and a signed contract, I was excited to get started.
The first step, of course, was to transfer the drawing to the panel, which I did using an oil transfer. This basically consists of blowing the drawing up to full size, coating the back with a very thin layer of oil paint, taping it over the primed surface and then carefully tracing any lines I want to eventually end up on the panel.
I know it sounds like it would just make a huge mess, but as you can see below, it works remarkably well. The resulting drawing is 100% oil paint. It’s archivally sound and it doesn’t have to be fixed before it’s painted over. It’s a great technique.
I’ll let the transfer dry for a day or two, and then it will be time to do some under-painting. This is already such a fun project. Not to brag, but I have the absolute best job.
Just for fun, here’s a photo of my cardboard shuttle. Any excuse to play with duct tape…