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Bikram Yoga's commissioned Painting - my process

Stephen Lursen abstract landscape commissioned work stephen lursen

I received an email a couple weeks ago from a gentleman concerning a painting he was hoping to purchase.  He saw my painting entitled Shipyard hanging in Starbucks in Lake Norman, NC.  His wife is opening a brand new hot yoga studio in Mooresville later this month and he wanted to give her a gift.  They regularly sit beneath my painting on their coffee dates and have grown fond of the painting.  As a result, I agreed to paint a new one for their business!


Step 1: After buying the right wood and construction supplies, I began the work to cut the wood and then glue and nail it together. I purchased poplar wood for my frame because it is the softest of the hardwoods. This means it is stronger than pine and whitewood, but not as hard to work with as an oak or other hardwood.


Step 2: Once construction was complete, it was time to stretch the canvas.  I used a heavy duty staple gun and 1/2" staples from the hardware store.  It is important to stretch the canvas in a star pattern working your way from the middle of each side out to the corners.  It is also important to stretch the canvas somewhat loosely to keep the canvas from warping your frame when you prime it.  The cotton shrinks dramatically during the priming process. 





Step 3: priming the canvas multiple times with a roller and over a quart of gesso.

Step 4: Painting the base coat color. I call this color a Naples Yellow.

Step 5: Draw the horizon line 1/3 from the bottom all the way across.

Step 6: Paint! Since the sky color is already in, the next thing to paint was the water. Using a palette knife and very heavy body paints, I began working my way from the horizon line down to the edge of the canvas.





The camera I was using isn't very good in the lighting I have, so I took a number of detail shots to show what it looks like up close.  Details are lost in the wide angle image.






I'am not finished yet, but I need to let it dry over night. More images coming soon!


The downward motion of the fog rolling in from the left on the new painting might be a bit sharp.  I'll consider repainting the lower left quarter to keep from sending the eye off the painting. The old Shipyard painting (as seen at the bottom of this post) has strictly horizontal movement on the left quarter. I remember the left side being the most difficult 4 & 1/2 years ago when I painted it over and over again seeking satisfaction. 


After discussing the painting with my collector, I continued working on the painting. Here are some more progress pictures!

In the picture below, I am toning down the heavy motion and energy in the left quarter of the painting.


At this step below, I added the abstract ships beneath the masts. I also continued reducing the diagonal fog in the bottom left corner.


I noticed a huge divide in the left and right section of the painting.  This divide caused an uneasy feeling when I was studying it. I asked my wife Cara to come look at the painting and she suggested I bridge the gap.  That's exactly what I did. By adding significantly more lines, it connected the painting giving it a cohesive unity that it was previously lacking.


Here is the final image for my newest Shipyard painting:




The image beneath is the painting currently hanging in Starbucks Lake Norman for comparison. 

The Painting has been installed! Here are the photos I took on my iphone after installation.












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