Richard Downs
Cooking With Spices!
My pal, Michael Llewellyn, national assignment photographer expanding into art reproduction. Thank you, Michael!

Here is my latest private commission for a Southern California couple. It started out pretty basic with, "We like your work and want something for our dining room, something modern and colorful". Modern? hmmm, that threw me a bit so I  emailed the client a page of my favorite 20th century modern artists just to figure out a starting point and the response was, "We like your "Couples" paintings but we don't want a "Couples" piece in our dining room." Understood, So I went through a bunch of surreal figurative designs and the response was, "We don't want the figure and we want a color centric piece". Understood, so I went back to the drawing board completely stumped for a direction and I did what hundreds of artists do when grasping to find a contemporary style they start drawing seed pods, leaves and branches. So I made the drawing below and took an objective look at it and laughed because it was so bad, "I can't show this to anybody!".
I am completely frustrated at this point and thinking, "I have to get this sketch approved so I can get my installment, get it together!". So I took another look at the seed pods and thought, "I spent some time on drawing the shapes and maybe that is all I wanted, the exterior contours?" So, I took all of the drawings and broke them down into forms, rearranged the elements and bingo! I had a direction. 
Here is the design evolution. I was so desperate for a design solution that I even threw in a sea shell. Yes, a sea shell.
So at this point I had 2 solid design solutions to present to the client and I was confident that one would be selected. I'll think about color later...
Final design choices submited, I followed up with some colorization of the designs.
Design 2 in color.
Design 3 was the overall winner and the client gave me this personal note regarding color, which was, extremely helpful. "As far as color goes, we don't want too much pink or blues. It's not that we don't want those colors in it, just not dominate. Reds, greens, turquoise, golds, browns, grays are our favorites. Hope that helps?"
"Cooking With Spices!" | Acrylic and Oil on Birch Panel | 40x52x2" | 2012

"Cooking With Spices!" | Detail 17x29"

"Cooking With Spices!" | Detail 28x22"

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