Commissioned Painting of Ithaca Waterfall / by Sam Abelow

Proudly, I announce the completion of a commissioned landscape painting. Upon recent delivery, the patrons expressed their love and appreciation of the work. Their custom oil painting functions as a life-filled reminder of their favorite spot, where they often take long walks.

Meeting the Patron

During this past Christmas holiday, I went to Ithaca, New York to visit my girlfriend’s family. During my stay, we stopped by a friend’s house, two Cornell professors. They asked about my career and were enthusiastic about my work as an oil painting. Upon viewing my portfolio, a lively conversation and series of ideas sparked in their minds.

An energetic couple, they spontaneously led me to their living room, where they pointed to a large, empty space on the wall. They envisioned a painting in my impressionistic style of their favorite waterfall. They wanted it to measure about three by four feet. This would be my first larger scale commission.

The Artistic Process

After the holiday, we emailed back and forth sharing various photos, and eventually choosing one that would work best for a painting. Meanwhile, I engaged in a review of the giants of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Fauvist painters: Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard and George Braque among others.

Soon I received their deposit and I eagerly bought the necessary materials. Stocking up on fresh oil paint, cold wax medium, as well as a high-quality linen canvas was necessary for this project. 

I prefer working with these traditional materials because they produce the result I’m after, which, down to the last detail, appears authentic and timeless.

But, before I would execute on the full-size canvas, I engaged in a series of quick “oil sketches,” testing out color combinations. A photograph can only do so much for an artist. My experience painting outdoors has revealed the ways in which the human eye perceives nuances of color that a camera cannot. Furthermore, painting directly from nature brings about an intuitive and instinctual connection to saturated colors on the palette.

Photograph of Cascadilla Falls, Ithaca NY, which the painting was based off.

I applied my studies and experience of color to this painting, which is based off a photograph. Taking artistic liberty, I altered the shadows of the trees to a turquoise blue, and bringing rich reds into the rocks, as well as heavy, textured, muted orange to the old bricks.

Furthering the Pursuit

Commissions are a joy for me on many levels. Most of all I feel honored to collaborate with people to achieve a result that is personally meaningful to them and enriches their lives. A customized, handmade painting is a timeless way to instill and remind oneself of a beautiful memory, place or time.

Also, commissions support my own artistic pursuits. Because of the oil painting medium, the project took two months to complete. During this period, I was able to use the funds to buy costly art materials. Patrons are a vital part of the artistic pursuit.


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