Painting Commissioned by Sanofi-Pasteur

The Request for Proposal stipulated;

"Because our honoree has contributed to Sanofi Pasteur on a local and global level and because of his love of music and art we have chosen the following: Title: “Working in Harmony,” Theme: Featuring humanitarian, public health and musical images, visually representing both the globe and also the Pocono Mountains, given the impact of our honoree’s efforts."


The size was twenty one and a half feet wide by five feet tall; I proposed to do it in 6 panels of hardboard, with wooden supports behind that bolted together. You can see the drawing I submitted with my proposal above right, below the finished painting.


The Nuts & Bolts

I had in mind what I used to do in the mid 1980's, when I lived in a studio apartment, but was doing large scale paintings. Back then I made my own stretchers in a modular way; the reinforced squares & rectangles would bolt together to form a support much larger than I otherwise could have managed to transport or store. In those days I used canvass, but now I almost exclusively use board of some sort. For the commission I used "hardboard" that was glued to a supporting framework of basswood.

Above, the finished painting, "Working in Harmony" oil on panel, 21.5' x 5' 2016

Below, the sketch I submitted with my proposal

Left, close-up of one of the bolts joinging the framework for two of the panels.

Above,  my husband Tagor Vojnovic with the framework for 4 of the 6 panels bolted together.

Right, he also had to build a custom easel.

Before I could paint, the panels had to be fabricated and primed.

You can't walk into an art supply store and just buy a twenty-one and a half by five feet high paintings support. It's something you have to custom fabricate, and without my husband's perfectionist woodworking abilities I would not have even attempted this commission.

This painting was the thing that swallowed my house!

The only place in my house where I could fit something twenty one and a half feet wide was on the ground floor, going the width of my house through two rooms. Luckily my front entrance and the parlor have a big, open space between them. We had to take down the light fixture in the hallway so it wouldn't hit the top of the painting, and even after moving various pieces of furniture, it was almost impossible to get out the front door.

Right, Edgar (Allan Poe) the cat assists my husband with construction of the giant easel that swallowed up my house.

Makig the panels took longer than it did to paint them.

Well, sort of. After the first panel was made, I primed it and began painting it, I just couldn't afford to wait for all the panels to be made, or I would never would have met my deadline.  I began painting on the easel in my tiny studio upstairs, which could only accommodate one panel at a time. After Tagor finished all the panels, he then had to construct the giant easel that could hold all of them.


Right, Study for the Underpainting (at top right of photo) and table/floor flooded with reference photos

Above,  with half of the giant easel constructed, I was able to bolt 3 of the 6 panels together, so I could begin working across the areas where the panels joined. Once the entire easel was finished, these 3 panels then moved into the next room since they are the 3 left most panels.

I began with an underpainting.

I did what was essentially an abstract painting as the visual framework upon which to hang all the recognizable imagery needed to fulfill the commission. (See the top of the page)  Above, you can see three panels that have their underpainting, but only the leftmost panel has begun to get the imagery.

I used literally dozens of reference photos.

When I did the initial drawing to submit to Sanofi, I went to their website to get photos of what I assumed were Actual Sanofi employees on the job. I also reasoned that if the photo was on Sanofi's own website, they would have to have rights to use those photos. The baby in Africa getting vaccinated (center bottom of painting) was also taken off the Sanofi site. I asked photographer Gary Matson if he had any photos I could use for a reference for the sax player, and he came through with photos of a mutual friend of ours, Seton (Chuck) Hancock. Gary's photos were black and white, so I also found other photos of chuck (some by me) to use for a general color reference.


I took a couple hundred photos in the Poconos to use for the landscape, plant rock etc. references. In the drawing, there were no specific trees, rocks or other specifics, only the horizon line and the suggestion of the waterfall. Essentially, I invented the landscape as I painted, getting the details from dozens of the reference photos I had taken.

Left, all 6 panels in place on the giant easel. Tagor had to construct the easel low enough to clear the opening between the rooms, which you can see in this photo.