When I was a freshman, I was chosen along with two of my classmates to create paintings for the home of Uli Behringer — CEO and founder of BEHRINGER, the multi-national audio equipment company. He could have had any artist he wanted to decorate his home, but he chose a bunch of students like us. Why? He wanted to give young talent a chance. Perhaps it had something to do with his humble beginnings.
“While studying sound engineering and classical piano at the Robert Schumann conservatory in Düsseldorf, Behringer found the university had limited equipment for student use, so he started to build his own products. His fellow students requested equipment from him too, and soon he was receiving more orders than he could handle himself, leading to the creation of Behringer Inc.” (Source)
I invite you to read The BEHRINGER Story. It’s a very inspiring and heartwarming account of how he found his calling (by accepting that his first choice may not have been the right one), followed his passion, and came to be the founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful audio equipment companies.
My classmates and I had an excellent time working for him. And when our paintings were done, his home with our artwork was featured in the newspaper. It was a very rewarding moment for us.
Last year (years after our previous meeting), Mr. Behringer was having another home done and he searched for me again to ask me to make more art for him. It was a wonderful surprise to hear from him again, and a meeting was arranged for us to meet when he flew back to the Philippines. We pitched some ideas back and forth to figure out what visual style he’d like for the new series of artworks. He was delighted when I asked him what elements he would like to see in the paintings. His eyes lit up and he wanted instruments because “It’s all about the music”. Since there were to be three pieces, he chose a piano, a saxophone, and a guitar.
The canvas size required for the paintings was 1.2 x 1 meters. That is a relatively large scale, and it would be difficult to do a lot of trial and error straight on the canvas. It could damage the fabric as well.
So I started out by making rough thumbnail sketches on a small sketchpad. These are very small drawings that help me figure out the composition for the artwork. I also use them to block in light and dark values to get an idea of how to get a good overall balance for the final work.
When I’m satisfied with my general compositions, I take my time to recreate them on the large canvas. I like to be very detailed with my line work because I tend to feel more confident when it’s time to bring in the paint.
I decided it would be best to use acrylic and oil paints for this triptych. Here’s the first night’s progress with acrylic paints. It’s not very pretty right now, but that’s what’s great about this type of paint — it doesn’t have to be neat because you can just keep layering as you figure things out. (And that layering can make the final work look better.)
This photo shows the different opacities and textures that can be achieved with acrylic. Its qualities depend on a number of factors, including brand, pigment, and the amount of water used. It’s always fun buying a new tube of paint and experimenting to see what can be achieved by it.
More establishing washes on the guitar piece, and the beginnings of the saxophone piece.
I started with establishing washes and texture on the saxophone piece, then started rendering the sax with very diluted black acrylic which I treated like watercolor. It makes the final rendering a lot easier.
Vertical wash texture on the piano painting, again achieved by diluting the paint in a lot of water. This will serve as the base for the textures I had in mind for the composition.
This shows the very early stages of the wash guide I painted for the piano. Looks a bit like random smudges, doesn’t it? Sometimes at this stage of the work I have to fight the feeling of being discouraged that my work isn’t looking good. I just have to keep at it until it looks the way I want it to.
Here is the transition of my saxophone rendering, from the initial wash guide to the final render with oil paints.
And here’s how the finished saxophone looks on the composition.
Ever since the first commission, Mr. Behringer expressed how much he appreciates texture so I made sure to incorporate lots of it into the new paintings.
Textures were almost done. Just missing the final rendering on the guitar details and torn paper effect (which was achieved with gesso and paint)
Here’s a look at my workplace during the final stages of the artwork. Ah, the bittersweet feeling of commission work nearing completion. It’s always a little painful parting with my work. (Hahah, the TV is on with Hey, Arnold! playing on Nick. I always have a show playing while I work.)
Here’s a look at the final works. (Higher resolution will be available when I’ve finished fixing up my gallery.) The colors and textures I chose for each of them represent how I feel the sound of the respective instruments would translate visually.
They were successfully installed on concrete panels made especially to hold them in Mr. Behringer’s home. I hope you enjoyed this post as I enjoyed working on this project. :) A lot of love and sleepless hours went into the creation of these paintings. I’m very happy with what I came up with, so it was all very much worth it.
These pieces are among the selections currently up at the store as prints or gadget skins.
Some of you guys have been asking how you may subscribe to this blog, so here are a couple of options for now:
I’ll be adding more later! Please feel free to leave a comment if there’s a method you’d like to suggest!
As always — thank you for reading! I’m looking forward to sharing more!