I’ve Had to Let Go of Another “Baby” From My Studio

                  Photo I took as inspiration for the painting on my client’s farm.

You know, it’s often hard for me to say good-bye to my “babies” when they leave my studio.  Since it takes many hours and months to complete a painting, I have a tendency to get quite attached to my artwork!

I enjoy the process of speaking with the client about THEIR vision and how they want their space to look. It’s so fun to dream with them. I love figuring out the exact size, colors and mood we are going for. Is there any symbolism they want to add? I enjoy the research of finding images that will work with their painting. I prefer to use my own photography for my references. So, it might take tromping through fields and dodging piles of manure or getting up at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise and the fog rising from a lake on a cold winter morning….whatever is called for, I like the challenge.

The design begins with a quick black and white sketch with a few notes to remind me of things we discussed in the meeting. And usually, I do a study, a small simplified version of the larger painting, to make sure they like the color palette, composition, mood etc. When they approve of all of that, I have the panel made to the exact size, apply three coats of protective gesso and begin. I start with a toned layer first to knock the white off and to create a middle tone so that I can see my dark and lights better. I block in the painting’s shape and build from there in usually both acrylic and oil.

Many people ask me how many hours it takes to complete an entire painting. Of course that depends on the size and complexity of the work. Some painting are easier and have less detail that take a lot of time. And sometimes, the one that seems very straight forward and easy will take the longest. It’s hard to say. I don’t charge for my time, I charge by the size. So if I quote a price by size (which is how I work) and it takes me twice as long as most paintings to complete, then that’s just on me. I should probably keep track of my hours but I’m just not organized enough to do that…so I never know how many hours something takes. I will say….a lot!

Black and White Pencil Sketch of “Welcoming Party,” 8 x 10″ pencil on paper  by Rachael McCampbell



Rough Color Sketch in oil of “Welcoming Party,” 12″ w x 16″ h, oil on panel by Rachael McCampbell



Final version of “Welcoming Party,” 4′ w x 5′ h, oil on wood panel by Rachael McCampbell ©2020



Then there’s that moment after you have turned the painting away for several days, then turned it back around with fresh eyes, examined it and examined it again until you feel that you can’t go any further — that’s the time to sign it and photograph it for your records. When that is completed, I schedule a time for delivery and installation of the art in my client’s home. That’s always fun. They have waited for months for this moment so there is some built up anticipation as to how it will look and if they will like it.

I’ve never had someone not like it or ask for a refund. I hope that never does happen, but if there was ever an  issue, I’d be happy to make changes. That’s why I don’t varnish the art before delivery. (If I’m shipping it, I don’t have that luxury–I varnish it).  I wait to make sure everything is okay and then I return to varnish it later. Now it’s sealed and protected and there for the family to enjoy for years to come. Whew, my job is done.

Thank you to all of my clients who have trusted me to make art for them. I so appreciate you!


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Rachael McCampbell