I was approached by Arcade Creative Group (an agency born out of Sony Music) to create a mythological, narrative artwork inspired by and for Chapter 24 Vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which is Mark Tarlov's new winery (ex Hollywood producer of many successful 90's films including "Simply Irresistable").
A week later after their initial call, a box of their fine wines Flood, Fire and The Last Chapter (named after the final scene in "The Odessey") arrived at my doorstep which was followed by a Skype meeting with Mark Tarlov, the art director Jeff Gilligan and several others involved in the project from Arcade. Not wanting to drink alone I also invited my dear friend Marianne Berardi, an art historian to join us. We popped the corks and began the tasting in an exchange on what each of these wines provoked and inspired. It was by far one of my most enjoyable journeys into a commission. At the helm of the creative team at Sony is the great art director Christopher Astopchuck who had suggested me for the project, our second collaboration since Brandi Carlisle's CD "The Story".
The commission was unspecific as to where and how they would use the artwork, most likely not on their label however. This set me off on sketching for the next several weeks and finalizing what I would show them into about 15-18 ideas.
Here are just a few of the first drawings.
It is important to note that 16-1 was one image I just threw in at the last minute...my desk was stacked with many vellum drawings most of which were far more rendered and this one was the loosest and provoked the most excitement from the client. It often requires many many drawings in order to get the kind of fluidity of line that evokes the most energy in a drawing. Getting limber is the most important part for me in my working process and then honing down the finished idea borrowing a little from a few good ideas. The above and below images were getting closer to the finished concept "Fire" : a more aggressive wine represented by a goddess rising from a volcano creating a universe of fire and smoke. "Flood" : a more subtle and smooth wine that seems to be in almost a mother earth figure rising elegantly from the landscape of water and terrain.
After reviewing about 4 more combinations of images a color study was finalized and then compositional adjustments made, flopping the Flood goddess.
I decided to do a black and white study in scratchboard as the painting is quite large roughly 24"x 48"and it is difficult to create the same loose line work that I am able to achieve in a small piece. This study was then blown up into a photocopy and transferred to the clayboard
Here is a WIP showing the pencil transfer lines, inks and kaolin pigments that make and the initial scraping with my tool.
Almost completed....additional blue was added just above the Flood goddess where the large yellow area of rays are shedding light. Then a hi res scan was made at Paul Duda Gallery (he works with clients all over the country-luckily 30 min. from my studio!)
This is my favorite details in the piece.
Definately, this commission was one of the highlights from this last year if not this past decade. I enjoyed every aspect (though the studio time working on completing such a complicated piece can be very tiring-but it is just part of the process!). It was also great to finally meet the team at Arcade when I was in NYC this past May!
The client also purchased the painting and it has been made into a mural at their winery so if you are in the Willematte Valley perhaps you can send me a selfie in front of the mural and raise a glass to all the great collaborations that support art and artists such as this one.
Happy New Year everyone!!