The Making of "The Balthazar" Commission

The Making of a Commission
This year I spent a lot of my studio time painting commissions.  I love them! They allow me to really get in touch with with what inspires my collectors, and through their requests, I get to visit new places and interesting subjects. And I also get to to revisit previous paintings I have already painted, for those collectors who have fallen head over heels for a paining of mine that has already sold. 

Enjoy this behind the scenes peek into how our commission process works:
"The Balthazar"
Balthazar sketch
painting in progress

Two years ago I was approached by a couple who had seen Pecoff art 8 years prior, and had fallen in love with it.  They had always wanted a painting of mine, but were holding out to find a painting of the famous Manahattan bar, "The Balthazar."  The husband had worked there as a bartender, years ago when he was in his 20s, and we discussed his experiences there, what the bar meant to him, and the feeling and mood he was looking for the painting to convey.  We looked over his photographs of the bar, discussed sizes, where they would hang the finished piece, and, perhaps most important, how much it would mean to the couple to have this painting hanging in their home.  At that point, my schedule was pretty tight with my already-scheduled paintings and travel commitments, and we eventually agreed on a delivery date several months into the future.

For the next few months I thought a lot about their painting, and how I would successfully convey the feeling they were looking for.  I asked myself how I would be able to tap into the feeling he described so that it would be well conveyed in the final work.  In the end, I realized that I needed to go to the Balthazar in person!   Big Apple here we come...
The Balthazar Restaurant
Sketch #1

My experience at the Balthazar:  Located in Lower Manhattan's Soho, wedged between tiny cobblestone streets, The Balthazar is one of New York's most famous French brasserie restaurants.  It has high-backed red leather banquettes, oversize brass mirrors, high tin ceilings, and antique lighting.  I sat down at the corner of the bar, the best vantage point for sketching.  I ordered an Old Fashioned and took in the scene.  The place was bustling with people.  I took out my sketch book and started sketching.  Sketching in public is always a good ice breaker, inevitably somebody introduces themselves and wants to take a look, which usually starts a conversation.  These casual meetings always add another rich layer to the experience of being there.  This time was no different and I was soon involved in a conversation with a gentleman seated next to me at the bar.  I sketched and made my way through a second Old Fashioned.  As I sketched, the lines representing the objects in the scene started to come together into a complete picture.  I drew two sketches from slightly different perspectives, one with the bartender pouring a drink, and the other with the bartender mulling my Old Fashioned.  
The Balthazar Restaurant
Sketch #2

I met on-line with the collectors and showed them the two sketches.  They chose the composition of the bartender pouring the drink.  (That one was my favorite too!).  We discussed the best sizing for the painting and the space it would hang, as well as some fun customized details (like the "22" on the calendar hanging on the wall behind the bar, which is the day of their wedding anniversary.  So special.)   
I then went into the studio and painted.   Here is the final painting:
The Balthazar bar and restaurant
Completed Painting of "The Balthazar"
From this behind the scenes peek, you can see that the process of commissioning a painting is a very special experience.  It is a rare exchange between artist and patron, a beautiful co-creation that brings color and memories of great times into your life.  If you are interested in commissioning me, please contact me. 

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