Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Commission Conundrum

A lovely couple in Austin already own some of my work...
Several months ago, Husband contacted me and asked if I would create a special piece for their 50th Anniversary. He was going to send me some photos... due date way in the future.

I was in the middle of a really large corporate commission, so I didn't even take a peek at the photo[s] until I was getting close to starting.
This is what I found.
Original size? About 8x10"
Oh boy.
I was in trouble.

Husband wanted a piece 16x20" - usually no problem. But it wasn't a close up. It was their wedding pic from 1964! Husband wanted both of them in the pic, veil, cake and all.

Uh oh.
I was in BIG trouble.

Usually, a 16x20" portrait is a very close head shot.
I work from photos, and these were aged...faded...the colors were a little off.  I couldn't see both of them as clearly as I would like.
I asked... can I just do a close up wife? [no]
Can I skip the cake? [I hope not]
Can I see some more photos? [sure]

Husband sent more pics.
Didn't help.

I tried sketching, I tried painting. I wanted to say "uncle." 
I wrote - I'm sorry, I can't do it.

Husband wrote me a short, but lovely note. It hit me in the heart. I suddenly felt even MORE connected to this couple. I studied their photos. She looks like a lovely. He looks so happy.
Alright... I'll do it.

That's why they call it making Art the Agony and the Ecstasy
It reminded me... why artists sometimes feel like they're painting the Sistine Chapel. A portrait is so personal, so meaningful. I mean.. I can't screw this up!
It's too important.

I cropped the photo to this. I tried to amp up the colors.
I started, like always, with a sketch.

Is this going to work?

I painted, I cut paper, I got into it.
Suddenly, I felt like I was in the groove.

I looked forward to every day spent with the couple.

Parts of this portrait are really simple, parts are VERY complicated.

I kept going back and forth between their wedding photo and their portrait to be. I figured out what would work for me... and hoped they'd like it.

Here's the finished piece and some details. The majority is upcycled junk mail [like I do] and I used paper doilies to create the lace... some rhinestones for details in the veil [and ring]. I made a few color changes and a bit of paint to hopefully make the tulle more realistic. This is not in professional lighting...just a quick pic while still on the easel... sorry about the glare.

A challenge met is a real triumph. I'm very proud of what I created.
And, the happy couple is really happy, too. I was out of town when Husband received the finished piece. His note to me made me cry.

Say what you want about suffering for your art - making something with your heart and soul...with your own two hands - that has such a tremendous affect on another person[s] is what it's all about, baby.
I will forever be connected to this lovely couple who have a piece of me on their wall and I have a piece of them in my heart.

10 years in the making - HARAJUKU Girls Kawaii! Style...

Something like...oh, ten years ago Gwen Stefani's song Harajuku Girls came out. I liked the song, the album, and thought the styles the Harajuku girls developed was so much fun! I never forgot it.
Here's a pic of Gwen with a few of the girls... and here's a LINK to the song on YouTube.

 I had a dream about a year ago... in it, I was creating these ridiculous necklaces featuring plastic babies, that were flocked. I searched high and low for the right size babies, bought 'em, painted 'em, flocked 'em. They're still in my studio waiting for a place to go.

I rediscovered Harajuku girls again... and there are a LOT of different styles. I like the Kawaii style that includes a lot of toys, baby colors, and ornaments. Here are some samples of what's happening in 2014:

Cute, right? I love the sparkles, the Hello Kitty look, the bright colored hair... so I decided to create a portrait of some Harajuku girls using upcycled items. I collected a lot of used things from thrift stores... barrettes, yarn, buttons, toys, jewelry, glittery things... and then started drawing, painting and cutting paper.

I made some changes along the way - in color scheme and a few other motto is "The Impulse is the Action!" I put some red and white rays in the back to simulate the Japanese flag... everything else is from my imagination and inspiration.

first sketch
The paper I used is in my studio...a collection Holiday cards, packaging, postcards, business cards, menus, calendars, training manuals, trade magazine covers, catalogs, business cards, tags, etc. I save everything. All the paper used in the background is Christmas cards, or paper with metallic. Every single piece is cut by hand and glued on to the painting -I created- on canvas.
I cover all of the painting with paper... and the only paint at the end is used on the eyes.
Paper part done!
After I finished the paper mosaic, I added a little blush [yeah, real makeup] to the "girls" to tint the paper! I sealed the composition with a non-toxic gloss lacquer. Ah...but I wasn't done yet.

I assembled all those thrift store toys, jewels, etc. to add to the portrait. I know - the girls are flat, and the toys are dimensional. I HAD TO follow through with my vision. I attached, using glue, thread and fishing line... a variety of "stuff."
I even took some of those babies, painted on some pajamas, flocked them with irridescent glitter and coated them... drilled holes into them and made them into a necklace!
plastic babies in their glitter onsies

I cut slits into the canvas to attach hair clips, a crown and earrings. There are jewels, a doll, a pony, hello kitty eraser, a baby pull toy, more weird plastic babies, teddy bears, buttons, and other jewelry.
I was going to use lavender yarn for hair, but it didn't lay right.
At the very end, I touched up the eyes, adding just a bit of paint. The finished piece is 30x40" unframed, but edges are finished. You can see it "in person" in Miami in December at the Spectrum Art Fair. For information on how to get tickets to the oepning, send an email.

Yeah, it took 10 years for a song to make it to my easel, and to finally get some babies on a necklace!
Thanks for reading!