Sketches for a Painting Commission: Buckminster Fuller

One of my favorite parts of doing a commission for someone is hearing their initial reaction to the first designs that I do for their piece. It's a leap of faith sort of feeling, as I have to do my best to satisfy my creative yearnings and the concepts that they have in mind. When the two are able to marry well together it's a real thrill.

Here's an example of the initial sketches for a commission I'm doing commemorating the 20th century polymath Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was a prodigious writer, inventor, teacher and visionary, conceiving of the geodesic dome and other novel pragmatic and philosophical ideas across many fields.

This was the first composition sketch, done in walnut ink over pencil. He holds a large tome and sits at a desk in his workshop. Buckminster Fuller worked and taught at Black Mountain College, an innovative avante-garde college located not far from where I live in Asheville, NC.

The initial skech got the okay from my client who also offered some suggestions, so I went ahead and started detail sketches. I used various photos of Mr. Fuller as reference and came up with the above portrait. I then had my father pose for studies of hands.


And finally I did this more detailed rendering which also includes some items of significance on the table in the foreground. Three roses in a vase, a single lit candle, geometric sketches of Buckminster's and a few other books. With this I'm ready to start painting! Look for that in the next post.

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