Recent Commission – The Chefs Daughter (blog post #16)

Recent Commission – The Chef’s Daughter

By Steven Kenny

Some artists seek out and embrace commissions while others approach them with caution as if wrestling a bear. I fall into the latter category. Over the years I’ve had many wonderful, fulfilling experiences but have also had my share of unfortunate . My latest commission was a pleasure from beginning to end.

It all started when I invited an interested couple to my studio to show them my inventory. All went very well and they left with a small original painting and a framed limited edition print. We also talked about the possibility of creating a unique painting just for them. After discussing various ideas for possible subjects we shook hands and I got to work.

Below is one of several quick sketches I did to get the ball rolling. The main focus would be a half-woman, half-tree figure seated on the edge of a pond pouring wine from an ancient Roman jug. Since my clients love food and the wife is a fine cook, the surrounding landscape would include sprouting pasta shapes and fish in the water.

Original thumbnail concept sketch.


Some inspirational images found on the internet.

We agreed on the basic composition and I then hired a model. She came to my studio for a short photo session and this is the image I used for the figure in the painting.


Photo shoot with model Carina Krehl.


The next step was to create a detailed sketch with all the elements in place.

Preliminary sketch #1.


We were making progress. The clients were pleased but asked for a few changes: 1) remove the jumping fish and make fish visible below the pond surface, 2) add sunflowers, cheese, grapes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil, 3) a Tuscan landscape background with colorful sky, and 4) a jetliner in the sky as an allusion to the wife’s years spent as a stewardess. Also, the woman’s hair must be a silvery gray color. No problem!

Preliminary sketch #2.


One last request was to add a hidden rabbit in the composition for fun. This gave me the opportunity to create a grape arbor on the right and move the sunflowers to the left. I felt it helped frame the overall composition and my clients agreed.

Final approved sketch.


We decided that the size would be 32 inches long by 22 inches wide. I would make one of my hallmark gold frames making the total dimensions 37 by 27 inches. This would fit perfectly into the wall space they had in mind.

Now it was time to get painting! I loved every minute of the process. My clients completely respected my opinions and truly wanted me to be completely happy with the end result, making sure that I didn’t feel as though they were imposing too much on my creative process. An artist couldn’t ask for better clients and I think it shows in the end result.

The Chef’s Daughter, 2020, oil on canvas, 32 x 22 inches


The happy owners.

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