WMU Abstract Commission

WMU Abstract Commission

Ackley/Shilling Lounge Commission

Western Michigan University, 2019

Complete commission set - All created with unique likeness


Earlier this year I got an exciting call that allowed me to dive into a large scale project for a lounge renovation in Ackley/Shilling Residence Halls.  Just last year I roamed the halls as a Resdient Assistant; now I had the opportunity to not only create art for the walls, but be a part of the whole renovation process of selecting paint colors, carpet, and fabric for furniture. 


Main wall during renovation
Main wall displaying two of the three wall canvases


The beginning process started with assessing the space and embarking on some preliminary sketching, idea creation and deciding where and how big we could go with the canvases.  The dull red walls with outdated black and white portrait posters had to go, leaving us with a plethora of options on newly painted walls.  


The purpose for these paintings was to create a welcoming and exciting space that was filled with youthful energy and exerberance.  We wanted to make a space that students wanted to be in, and to provide a space that would allow for focused work and social comaraderie.  I went straight to the markup tool to help visualize size of works, placement and colors.


Brainstorming some ideas on the first paint layer
Comparing color swatches to fresh paint color

Don’t forget the sketchbook!  An incredible and often underappreciated tool for ideation. I had a few ideas of compostion and often one mark leads to the next, so for this project I utilized my sketchbook for color swatches and was able to color match to the wall color to make sure they had a cohesive and complementary look and feel.

Layer after layer, one mark led to the next and the paintings started to evolve.  I wanted each painting to have original features, but still look cohesive as a group.  The final sizes of the three main canvases were 6’x6′, 4’x4′, and 4’x4′.   Once done, they were finished in sleek black frames which really made them pop off the walls and provided that cohesive look throughout the room.  I also was commissioned to create 4 smaller paintings that were given out as thank you’s for those who helped make this process a reality.

Images by Tanner Bosma