How a Commission Painting Unfolds


The end result

We are always through-the-roof excited to begin a new painting that an interior designer commissions for a client. And, while each client is different and each painting is one-of-a-kind, the story of how this painting developed offers insight into the process of how we serve their needs and desires.

We began with a four-way telephone discussion: the two designers, Robin Baron and Yudi Kaufman of Robin Baron Design, the artist Jerry Teters, and me. The designers vision was a large, 5 x 4′ white-on-white painting that would hang in a specific space in the living room they were designing for their client, Ryan Serhant, a man who knows his way around New York City real estate. They envisioned a canvas with the kind of rich texture that is Jerry is known for, with hints of purples, gray, pinks and perhaps chartreuse coming through to read and complement the colors of the furniture and wallpaper.

The designers provided a few photos that showed furniture fabrics, pillows and the rosy underside of an over-sized coffee table that incorporated some of the colors they wanted the painting to reflect.

Jerry was gleeful to have the right size canvas on hand, with an earlier painting that he was ready to paint over: An under painting gives a head start to the texture that he builds and manipulates as he works. With gesso, he brought the canvas back to a pristine white and then applied thin layers of color.


ww 1

When that dried, he used a gel medium to continue to build the surface so it would  accept the layers of white he applied and scraped off, reapplied and moved around as a subtle pattern and sense of movement appeared.

White-on-white detail 1Detail of canvas

Allowing the paint to dry was key to achieving the effect of color peering through. Without patience, the white would become pastel and the contrast would be lost. Another challenge was to find the composition under the white and, when necessary, paint on top of the white layers to bring the color forward and create balance and movement.

One of the final steps was to go over any areas of white that weren’t crisp, pure white and remove any shadows or tints of color that weren’t deliberate to meet the designers’ specification of bright white, not cream, not off-white. The final painting (first image above), which is almost impossible to capture in a photo, glows and unfolds gradually the more you look at it.

Contemporary Art and Interior Design: Inspiration and Hard Work

Uploading images of not-quite abstract paintings to our new Art of the Drum page brought that wonderful sense of excitement; another “new” at the beginning of this New Year, when all things feel fresh and possible, vibrant and colorful. Architabla

Then I hit one of those technical snags, and then another and…(I’ll spare you the details–we’ve all been there.)

It was one of those small-scale moments where the sublime (I can’t wait to share this original art with the world!) gets muddied by the ridiculous (why won’t it upload right?) and I remembered, once again, that, yes, this is how it goes.

Which raises an interesting question.

When we view a completed work of art—whether it’s a painting or a beautifully designed space—do we acknowledge the effort, imagine the glitches that might be part of the process? Or do we prefer to think that the final product came seamlessly together, inspired by the talent and the finely tuned creative processes of the person or people behind it?

Success is, as Thomas Edison said, 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. You can argue with the numbers, but the point is well taken, in our experience.

So when you’re looking for art either as a focal point of a new interior design or as that final, essential finishing touch, let us do the hard work of creating the inspired piece you need.

We ask all the questions to help you get it right. What palette, size and mood are you looking for? What speaks to you and your client? Would Rose in Blue be perfect if it were in green?


Our clients’ inspirations and creativity help drive ours. We’re eager to work as hard as you to create the paintings you need and that your clients will love.


Bespoke. Or, you can often get just what you want.

The other day, an interior design client called to ask the price of  “the blue painting” she had seen in a recent email.

It’s not blue, it’s gray,” I told her.

Touch of Gold HR Oil on canvas 30 x 40"Touch of Gold • Oil on canvas • 30 x 40″

But when I looked back at the email, I saw what she saw: the photo translated the silver gray of the painting into a rich blue-gray, a color that worked perfectly for a client of hers.



She was disappointed, until I reminded her that Jerry could paint that painting in just the colors her client wanted.

It’s what he does.

No duplication, no imitation.  Just custom art to fit custom designs.

The original painting was created using Benjamin Moore colors the designer specified to fit her vision of her client’s office.

But this painting below, the first panel of a triptych, was painted from a fabric swatch and photos of aqua blue glass lamps.Patch of Blues Oil on canvas 24 x 24"

Patch of Blues • Oil on canvas • 24 x 24″

And, as some of you know, but we’re thrilled to repeat, the fuscia painting in the room Robert Passal designed for New York Magazine‘s Winter 2015 Design issue is a smaller version of one he loved.

newSummer Bloom • Oil on Canvas • 36 x 32

 Jerry painted both large and small versions vertically, but it also works the way it hangs in the Instagram photo below.


The take-away? You can often get what you want. Just let us know.

When you need the right painting

September, which for me always arrives with a sense of excitement and possibility, was no disappointment this year. It began with the publication of the Fall issue of ASID Metro’s Design magazine, featuring Jerry’s painting, Tender Gray, on the cover.

ASID Cover Fall 2014

It’s an honor for his work to herald an issue that offers valuable insights about such topics as universal design, designing a show house and getting organized. There’s also an article that I contributed—about different approaches to incorporating art into your interior design. For the article, I spoke with three interior designers—Arlene Angard, James Rixner and Jared Sherman Epps—about the role art plays in their work and what they do to open their clients to the kind of art that enhances their designs.

I loved writing it and hope you’ll gain some important ideas about what is clearly a is a central element in every design.

Here’s the whole painting and a bit about how we chose it for the cover:

Tender Gray Oil on canvas 36 x 30″


I worked with ASID Metro’s Communications Director Theresa Seabaugh to choose a painting from Jerry’s portfolio that she and her team not only loved, but one that fit the dimensions of the publication and worked with the its logo. The process was not unlike what we do with our interior design clients, who come to us seeking paintings in a particular dimensions and colors that make the most of the palette, textures and styles they’re working with.  Ultimately, they want a painting their clients will love. It’s what we deliver.

This follows our appearance in the May issue of Elle Decor, which focuses on Tamara Stephenson’s country-French themed dining room vignette and the commission painting we donated to the Housing Works fundraiser.

And , in another exciting development, Robert Passal commissioned a painting from Jerry for his spread in the upcoming New York magazine’s Design issue! More on that next time, after it’s published!

When Do You Have THE Talk?

Pretty much everyone loves it and knows it’s important, but hardly anyone is comfortable talking about it.

It’s that other three-letter word: ART. Interior designers love it more than most, but often leave the “art talk” to the end of a project when both budgets and patience are depleted.

“She loves the art but it is the thing that puts her over budget.”

I’m on a bit of a mission to change this, to make it as easy for you to incorporate art into the design process as you would, say, window treatments or rugs.

Although first posted over a year ago, this article is no less relevant now. But it just scratches the surface, so look for more to come soon about this And, as ever, I welcome your input at

fallgreen        In Falling Green, a 24 x 30” oil on canvas, Jerry creates texture using sage and alizarin to create texture and depth as well as compositional tension.

Most interior designers know the challenge of helping their clients choose a work of art. Although the issues vary from project to project and designer to designer, several say that success hinges on their role as educators—introducing their clients to pieces they may not have otherwise considered and helping them understand the value a work of art adds to a space.

“Art mystifies most of my clients,” said Jill Kalman of Bella Interiors in Westport, CT. “They’re educated and sophisticated but have so little idea about what to put on their walls. So I love to help them, because once you put up that picture, it all comes together.”

Designers’ own connection to art, and what they’ve learned about their clients’ personality and process, colors each of their approaches. Satomi Yoshi-Katz of YZDA, in Montclair, NJ, tries to encourage her clients to choose something different, something they might not have considered before.

“I like to offer them something unique, something that will come to feel like an important piece to them,” she explains. “I help this along by learning the story behind a piece of art before I bring it to a client so they can appreciate it more and see beyond the price tag, whether it’s $2500 or $10,000.”

Gabrielle Raven of Gabrielle Raven Interiors in Woodstock, NY takes a different tact. “Sometimes I’ll drop a piece off with a client without saying anything. Just putting something in front of them allows them to have a visceral reaction. Later I ask questions that help them begin to understand their response and start seeing it differently. But it has to be in situ if you really want to sell it.”

Like most innovative designers, Raven tries to steer her clients away from more generic pieces that many of them gravitate to out of comfort and familiarity.

“It’s our job to help encourage people to take aesthetic risks, even if we have to hold their hands a little so they can make the leap.”

Hilary Unger, of Perianth Interior Design in New York City, finds that her clients are relying more and more on her to buy art. “They usually begin with a particular space in mind and I’ll show them a range of things so they’re not making a decision in a vacuum.”

Unger also steers her clients to works of art that she feels suit a particular space. “Even the most beautiful piece can be lost if it’s not properly placed,” she says. “But when it is, it finishes the room. I say to people, “When you hang your art, you’re home.’”

How it happens.

When Danit Ben-Ari of Interior Transformations commissioned Jerry to create a painting for a living room she was designing, she gave him a handful of fabric swatches. She was looking for a painting that would not only stand on its own, but one that would enhance her work by incorporating the colors and patterns of the fabric in a subtle and complementary way.


Jerry began by mixing the shades he would work with— warm creme white,  deep burgundy with burnt violet overtones, umber, ocher and a hint of metallic sheen. He decided to abstract the leaf theme from one of the fabrics and experimented by drawing several shapes in charcoal, defining where on the canvas the dominant shapes should go, dividing the surface plane, and creating a pleasing tension with other shapes and line.



He then began the back-and-forth process of editing to shape the composition, adding and scraping paint to create texture and reveal undertones of color, and bringing certain shapes into the foreground while letting others recede.

Gold and Leaf Oil 30 x24"

The finished painting now sits on a deep merlot silk grasscloth wallpaper above a fireplace refaced with capiz shell tile, which enhances its shimmering metallic gold tones.



How Once Upon A Time Really Works

relections_I_oil_on_canvas.30x36"Reflections I

The Pixar Animation code which, in his book To Sell is Human, Daniel H. Pink calls “an irresistible new kind of pitch” provides a fascinating six step structure. It includes: Once upon a time…One day…Because of that…Until finally…

You can find more about Pink’s insights here.

I used this format to communicate the value a commission painting can bring to interior design and kind of like the story it tells!

Once upon a time an interior designer was creating a wonderful living space for a client. Every day, she offered her client ideas for beautiful furnishings, colors, fabrics and lighting that would fulfilled their shared vision for a unique design. One day, they both noticed that the art the client already owned did little to highlight and pull together all the elements of the new room. Because of that, they both realized they needed to find artwork that would fit where they wanted it to and complement the space they were creating and all that was in it. Because of that, they both spent many hours on line and in galleries searching for a painting that was the right size and had the right palette for the design they had both worked so hard to realize. Until finally, the client came to realize that she could commission a painting from an amazing artist who would create a painting that would not only be a centerpiece of the room and highlight the work of the designer but that she would love for years and years to come.

So what’s the moral of this story: Don’t wait—include the art from the beginning of the process.

Tweeting Like a Poet

Well, maybe. Sometimes I feel I’ve managed to distill a compelling message into 140 concise, elegant characters, and I admit it’s a bit of a thrill. It’s also been just one of my challenges this past year as CEO and Chief Marketer of Teters Art.

That’s right—it’s almost a year since we launched Teters Art with the dual purpose of bringing Jerry’s beautiful, immensely livable work to a much wider audience; and offering interior designers and their clients original art in the palettes and sizes they need to enhance the designs of their rooms.

In the last year, I’ve spoken with many interior designers, most of who love art but who stumble when it comes to helping their clients choose the art that will both express them and help complete the design they’ve worked on. So here are a couple of ideas for how to bring art into the picture before your clients exhaust their budgets, themselves and you.

2168Evening Search • Oil on canvas • 5′ x 4′

Now on display at Mark Gruber Gallery, New Paltz, NY

° Don’t treat art as an afterthought. Instead, consider it as an important design element. A well-placed painting is both is a cohesive and and highlighting  aspect of a room. It can draw the rug, the chair, the lighting together in the larger sense while helping to draw the eye to details of color and shape.

° Do let a piece of art help define the space you’re trying to create. Different colors can uplift or tone down, help warm or cool a room. So can composition. Does it draw you in in an exciting way, or offer you something soothing to sink into?

Silver Dials on Red Silver Dials on Red • Oil on canvas •  2′ x 6′

This commission piece was based on a 2′ x 2′ painting

of the same motif for a client of Interior Transformations.

A brief recap of some of the year’s highlights:

Most recently, we’re thrilled that Tamara Stephenson invited Jerry to donate a painting for the room she is designing for Housing Works’ 2014 Design on a Dime benefit in April. He decided to use the opportunity to create a new piece that will highlight the theme, colors and furnishings of the room she’s creating. I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s finished.

I also introduced Tamara to the work of Sara Harris,

Hudson Light Oil on Canvas 20 x 24″

and to Michael Teters (Jerry’s brother).

Migration Pattern Encaustic 12 x 12″

They will both be donating to the event. In her blog, Nest, Tamara also highlighted the two paintings Jerry created specifically to complement the penthouse apartment designed by James Rixner, another interior designer we’ve had the chance to collaborate happily with.

One of two paintings Jerry created for James Rixner’s design of a modern penthouse apartment.

And last fall, Diana Lamberty, of Pompanoosuc Mills, invited us to display work in their new showroom on Hudson St. in NYC and, like both James and Tamara, working with her and her staff has been a joy and an education.

at pampanoosucSeveral of Jerry’s pieces seen through the rain-streaked window during the art opening at Pompanoosuc Mills NYC showroom.

And it is also very cool that a major home furnishings retailer has expressed interested in reproducing a couple of Jerry’s paintings. If that plays out as we hope, we’ll make sure to let you know.

By the way, are you following Teters Art? Won’t you like us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, Linkedin and Instagram? Clicking the links makes it easy, and we’d love it if you would.

This first year has been amazing and we are grateful to all of you who have expressed support for and interest in Jerry’s art. It’s inspiring to both of us, artist and chief critic, and helps us to evolve and move forward on many fronts.

We will keep you posted!



Finding Joy

I lost my way at the beginning of this holiday season. Tossed about by news of events in Syria, from Africa and from our own misguided government, and confronted by the pain of illness and loss much closer to home, I wondered how to make sense of the current of joy I was preparing to ride through Thanksgiving, Hannukah and Xmas (with a few birthdays thrown in).

Currents_34x36 copyCurrents

Despite the counsel of the wise voices I keep close at hand—Pema Chodrom, Thicht Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and Mr. Rogers—the disconnect felt raw and ragged. I wanted to enter the season of light open to joy yet somehow still connected to the darkness felt by so many.

I wish I could tell you that I figured it out; I haven’t. But I did become clearer that joy, when found, is to be cultivated and not abandoned, along with love and art and beauty, and that going deep into it may somehow help heal our own and others’ pain.

Wishing everyone a joy- and art-full year,


The Happy Season?

The Happy Season is upon us and everyone I know (except my 13-year old) is filled with some level of dread. Why the dissonance? It’s bigger than all the sparkly stuff that many of us agree has co-opted the spirit of the holidays.


It may have something to do with, for example, Walmart’s latest effort to support its employees by helping them hold food drives so their colleagues have enough to eat. Food drives instead of living wages??? My personal gloom also comes in part from New York voters who recently approved a bill that will allow casinos to be built in the mid-Hudson/Catskill/Albany area. Sold as a way to reduce local tax burdens, it conjures up a nightmare scenario of unsustainability—of people spending money they don’t have in order to get more, of florescent lights, decimated landscapes and a minimum wage economy where the barely employed will hold foods drives for the barely employed.

Wallkill Tree Two Wallkill Tree

I am not a paranoid person and yet the evidence seems undeniable that this increasingly two-tiered economy is perpetuated so that the majority are too busy trying just to survive, through long trudges and efforts at quick fixes, to notice or be able to respond to what is happening. And yet, there is art.

And next week my family will descend and together we will eat too much delicious food and sing Tom Chapin’s Thanksgiving Song of gratitude, that we have been singing for nearly 20 years. Yes, it’s corny, which is why we love it…

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving,


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