Thursday, June 16, 2016

Namaste in Alaska...the story of a commission


The lifeline of a painting commission can be short or long.  Simple or complex.  It's always an interesting road to go down when I have another person involved in the painting process with me.  When I paint, I am giving my impression of something.  The way I felt, what I saw .... my vision.  But with a commission, I am telling someone else's story.  Their feelings and memories and their thoughts in paint.  It can be one of the hardest things to do.  That is, to try to get inside someone's mind and heart and paint what they are feeling.  To take them back to a certain place and time or bring someone important to life on canvas.

Bruce McIntyre walked into my studio, a friend of a friend, on a quest that had absolutely nothing to do with a painting.  He writes a blog about questions and choices.  Observations that relate to life here in Charlotte and really anywhere.  His objective is to start conversations about places and events and people.  He wanted to write the story behind the building that houses my studio and came to interview my studio-mate (who we have dubbed "da mayor").

Over several months, we all became friends as he stopped by every week on his way to a pilates class down the hall.  Earlier this year, he talked with me about an idea he had for a painting and asked me to do it.  He had been to Alaska last year and the beauty and experience had stayed with him. [His blog on his experience can be read here: Choices Do Matter.]  The scene he had in mind, was of Pavlov Lake on Chichogof Island in the southeast corner of Alaska.  But it was much more to him than just a beautiful place.  It was the sense of peace, of clarity and stillness and the interconnectedness of life that he wanted to capture.  An additional part of the commission was a beautiful antique frame.  Bruce had lovingly restored this frame and wanted something that he treasured to put in it.  No pressure there, right? :)

His vision was clear and that is such a wonderful thing for a painter doing a commission.  There is such a feeling of responsibility that weighs on me with commissions.  I want them to be perfect.  And I was excited about starting to put his feelings and observations on canvas.  And then I broke my arm.  The one I use to paint.  And suddenly I had mounds of commissions and work due to galleries piling up and although I could paint, it was as slow as a turtle.  Combine that with teaching obligations twice a week and a workshop to teach.... I was not in a peaceful place to try and paint a peaceful painting.

Once my cast was off, I finally had the dexterity to paint a few studies for him to choose from.
A canvas was built especially to fit the cherished frame and I was ready to start.

  Except that I had 2 back-to-back trips that had been planned for a year and 3 gallery deliveries to make.  Thank goodness that Bruce was as patient as he was kind. Life just kept throwing up hurdles and I just felt like I needed to be in a place of calm to paint this painting or the sense of peace that I wanted to show just wasn't going to be there.  Finally, three months after our initial discussion about the painting I was able to start.



and finally the finished painting in it's beautiful gold frame:


Namaste!