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.


VirginiaGardner said...

I love this story, and the piece is lovely!

Marcinho Savant said...

Exquisite outcome! Bravissima!