Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Out To Sea - By Tina Bohlman
Out To Sea - View from the Betzel's - 36 x 48 Oil on Canvas
First let me say that a good commission doesn't come along very often....nor does one often have a "story". This commission is one that resulted from being in the right place at the right time; I'm a true believer that things happen when they're supposed to. This story began last October during my participation in the Invitational Coastal Paint Out in Port Aransas, TX. On the last morning of the event, there was a Quick Draw event - it was cold and the wind was coming off the ship channel about 30 mph...but I persevered & painted a nice one in spite of the uncomfortable conditions. After the Quick Draw, my husband & I wanted to grab some coffee to "warm up" & decided to have a late breakfast at a local cafe`. It was very crowded with only 1 table available, so it was good to be seated and not have to wait. About 10 minutes later, another couple came in - no table available, so my husband (who never met a stranger) waved them over to share our table. We exchanged names...the usual chit-chat about "where we're from" and "why we're here". Bill & Jeanne were from Ft. Worth and purchased a 2nd home in Port A. Long story short, they invited us to see their home and to discuss a commission painting for a large wall in the living area. Their home is located on the entrance of ship channel to Corpus Christi Bay just about 1/4 mile down from the ferry landing. Lovely home; gorgeous view. Bill & Jeanne's favorite past-time is watching the dolphins "playing" out in front of the ships as they come & go. So...my commission was to replicate their "view"....the channel, the ship, their pier....and the dolphins.
So, my journey began with creating a composition that would include these elements, with a huge orange tanker (they gave me a photo of "THE" ship) as the focus. Problem #1: I have never painted anything (that floats) bigger than a shrimper. Problem #2: The canvas is 36 x 48...almost taller than I am...and when on the easel, it is definitely above my head. Problem #3: The tanker is really, really big and the elements had to be "to scale" in comparison. Problem #4: This ship is a bright, eye-popping orange!
From December until the end of April, I spent almost as much time planning & thinking as I did re-mixing a slightly different color than the one previously applied. One "adjustment" lead to another, and another; layer upon layer until the final stroke almost 5 months later. I put the painting on my fireplace mantel and after 2 weeks, decided it was finished & signed it.
"Leading the Way" - Dolphins 12x12 Oil on canvas
One of the issues I had with "scale" is that the dolphins had to be very tiny in the painting - and the dolphins were the source of a lot of fun for Bill and Jeanne...watching them jump and "challenge" the ship to catch them. Off and on over the last month, I painted this small "close-up" of the dolphins as a surprise gift for them. Now, this is a FUN painting! It makes me smile.
Meanwhile, as I was struggling with the usual problems that accompany a large commission work, Bill and Jeanne were going through struggles of their own; Bill had open heart surgery (doing fine & recovering nicely) and she was scheduled for rotator cuff surgery in about 2 weeks. So when I let them know the painting was ready, they were thrilled and excited to see it. My husband and I delivered both paintings last Sunday afternoon. They love it....as well as the little dolphin painting...and the timing is perfect - with Bill still recovering and Jeanne scheduled for surgery soon, their trips to Port A have been put off for at least 2 or 3 more months. The painting is hanging in their patio room which is kind of "tropical" and they can enjoy the "view" of the ship channel as if they are looking through the windows in their home in Port A.
I'd also like to mention that this commission is very special....but in a personal way - my husband and I now have 2 new friends; and it all began with sharing a breakfast table with strangers in Port Aransas, Texas.
By the way, have I ever mentioned that I really do love my job?