Most of the time around Christmas I get asked about painting commissions. This year, I had the unique opportunity (and honor) to create a custom painted saw blade for three sisters to gift their parents this Christmas. The oldest sister had contacted me through a website called Houzz which is a website created to connect people for various jobs or services, usually related to the home. You know, like remodeling or decorating. This turned out to be one of the coolest projects I’ve done for a commission.
Listen to this sweet story. The father of my client had picked up an old sawmill blade at an auction and when asked what on earth he was going to do with it, he said he’d like to get something painted on it sometime. Well his daughter was listening. She managed to get it out of his garage without him even knowing. Recently, the whole family had gone on a trip to Colorado together. That was her inspiration for this fantastic gift of art. Now, this may not seem like that big of deal but it turned out to be quite an undertaking for both of us.
First of all, the saw blade was huge… 30 inches in diameter! It was about a good quarter inch of thick steel and that means it was heavy, not to mention dangerous with all those sharp teeth. She managed to get it cleaned up and and primed, then she dropped it off at my studio for me to do the rest, the more fun part in my opinion. I sent her a sketch and we were off to the races.
The first thing I had to do was figure out how to actually paint on this thing. It was really heavy and I wasn’t sure my easel would hold it but thankfully it did. But not without puncturing holes in the wood, it dug in but at least I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. There it stayed and the only time I took it off the easel was when I was finished painting it and varnished it laying flat.
I took this photo for scale, see how large the blade is? See those massive teeth?! As I roughed in the underpainting of the background I wondered what all it had cut. I wondered where it had been used. How old was it? The surface was very pitted and had rust that my client removed. I don’t know what kind of wear and tear these things go through, and I’m not sure how long these get used but I suspected this one wasn’t used too much but I’m just guessing.
You might notice this looks a bit different from the initial sketch and even the underpainting. I altered my design some. Initially, I had a lake or pond in the bottom right corner but I decided it needed something a bit more dramatic so I changed the lake to a rushing creek with boulders.
I really liked the way the purple mountains off in the distance contrasted with the green valley grasses. This scene is admittedly totally made up. I’ve never been to Colorado but I looked at photos and put some together to create this particular landscape. It’s on my bucket list for sure though… going to Colorado not the painted saw blade ha ha. Although this was pretty cool.
Going back and forth from the rocks to the water to the mountains and adding more snow, I tweaked it as I painted. I kept finding little things to add more character or just make it seem more lifelike. The water bothered me though, so I had to go back in and repaint all of it. I was much happier with the changes I made to it. Adding in the trees, bushes and grasses growing up around the creek really brought it all together. Did you notice the pine forest I added at just about the 3 o’clock spot on the blade?
Finally, I added the icing… the final highlights. That’s the part when you need to add them, but can fuss too much and over do it. I was finished. I’m quite pleased with the finished project and my client was very happy. She’s promised me photos of her parents opening the gift and I hope she remembers. That’s one of the best parts, seeing reactions to such personal artworks such as this.
I’ve painted on some pretty uncommon things like a rock, a cookie jar, an outside patio table, a skillet and even travel trailer but this has to be one of the more unique things. Never would I have thought I’d be doing a painted saw blade. It was fun, challenging and rewarding. People have not been something I paint much of but I was happy how they turned out. Of course, these people are the parents. What do you think?
Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page under the additional links menu. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started created more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is is mystery and telling mystical stories.
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