Monday, September 17, 2012

Rescued by the Princess...

Some weeks my job is ridiculously hectic and challenging. The project I wrote about in my recent post is a good example of this. Tight deadlines, cumbersome materials, and technically challenging work can make even this upbeat artiste extraordinaire cranky. With no option but to roll up my sleeves and put my head down I feel a bit like Sisyphus with his bumbling boulder. In the end it's worth it. The client is happy, I'm in a little better shape and usually I've learned a thing or two....sometimes the hard way. 

However, the other side of this dirty little coin gleams like fresh moonbeams bouncing off a magic lake. Dream clients! On the tail end of the aforementioned sign project I was fortunate to have a fantastic pet portrait commissioned by some really amazing people. The lovely couple had already bought one of my paintings on behalf of the Florida English Bulldog Rescue charity auction. 

To make matters even more fun my liaison for this project was another one of my favorite clients--a lovely woman who commissioned this painting for her husband. And for the hat trick of awesome circumstances the subject, Pippa was absolutely adorable and friendly. She's an adorable little girl who gnaws and mangles her favorite chew toy as seen in the picture. It got even better--the clients already had a perfect reference photo to use (Usually I work from a myriad of sample pictures which is pretty difficult) so the sailing was smooth from the get go. 

 This project was the exact opposite of the week before. The couple were in no rush so there was no deadline to speak of. They were really positive, upbeat, friendly, patient and enthusiastic--all of which really put me at ease. Instead of tight, exacting letter painting I was luxuriating in loose, colorful brushstrokes. I really enjoyed the unique tawny tones and patterns of Pippa's fur. It was a fantastic way to spend the week. Painting, listening to podcasts, and sipping coffee.  

As per usual I did make myself a little crazy obsessing over details but that is part and parcel of the whole painting experience for me.  I'm working on simplifying my technique so I don't end up in an institution. 

I've added the lovely Pippa to my online stores in the form of GICLEES and PRINTS and a VARIETY of other products too good not to share. If you'd like to see the up close and personal version of Pippa just click HERE
Hello, Pippa!

Pippa, the English Bulldog by Robert Phelps

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Job is For the Birds.....

This was a fun project from a few months back. One of my clients absolutely LOVES birds and spends her days taking beautiful pictures of Florida sea birds. Her work is amazing. She is always brimming over with passion for the coastal creatures and knows most of their habits intimately. 

Not being nearly as knowledgeable on the topic of Florida birds as she, I was a bit nervous to undertake the mural she had commissioned me to do in her bedroom. It was to be of a rookery loaded scenes of local birds and their mating rituals. Fortunately for me she was very forthcoming in the details she wanted and even provided me with several great reference pictures.

The hardest part actually was rendering the subtle details on a fairly textured wall. I tried my best but it was like trying to paint on a gravel road! It can be very frustrating to say the least. In the end, however, all was well. My client glowed with praise and happiness when all was said and done.   Good times ;-) 
Ta Da!

Bird Island! 
As a bonus I got to see some gentle giants up close during my lunch break. Look at these guys! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs.....

A few weeks ago I found myself driving straight into the heart of darkness. An early AM delivery to the Tampa Museum of Art required that I navigate the treacherous labyrinth of the RNC in Tampa. Streets were awkwardly blocked by cement barricades. All traffic was funneled into bumbling parades of confused locals and even more confused visitors. Threatening fences sprouted up at every turn and were manned by grim-looking police. It was a huge mess to say the least.

To make matters worse, I was on a tight deadline. My precious cargo had to be delivered at 8 on the nose. As a directionally-challenged citizen, I found this particular mission especially daunting. Fortunately my Irish stubbornness prevailed and I navigated the treacherous maze and made the delivery right on time. Getting out of the maelstrom was another matter entirely. It took me several twists, tumbles and turns to find my way to freedom.

Once loose and sailing coolly along the highway I promised myself a celebratory afternoon of coffee and loitering for a job well done. And a job well done it was! For 8 days I worked dawn til midnight sanding, buffing, painting, aging, crackling, distressing a series of twelve vintage signs. I think I went a little crazy toiling all by my lonesome in the studio. Fortunately I had the Adam Carolla, the Film Vault and Joe Rogan podcasts to keep me company. I definitely could not have done it without them. 

The good news is...mission accomplished! I'll let the pictures tell the story ;-)