Ahhh, the pressure of a commission painting!
Will they like it? Will I like doing it? Will I regret the minute I said ” OK, I’ll do it? ” Maybe all of these things are present when the process starts. One way to minimize surprises is to have a preemptive understanding that you do not wish to reproduce, as if by photography, every eyelash, mole or freckle. That this is an artists’ perception of the ” capture ” of some essence that will at least make the painting recognizable as a portrait.
I was graced with a free rein of interpretation when a very close friend commissioned me to do a painting of herself and her first child- a 6 month old daughter , as a surprise for her husband for Christmas.
We both agreed ahead of time that whatever style suited me would be fine with her. I think she knew I wouldn’t translate my vision into something reminiscent of Picasso’s Les Demoisselles d’Avignon.
There were no live sittings- I live here on an island in the Caribbean, and she on another- in Manhattan. She emailed me lots of photos, and I studied the one I thought best summed up her love for this little girl.
The hardest thing for her to do was to keep it hidden for a month before surprising her husband. The hardest thing for me to do was to get over the doubts I’d had about keeping it soft, real, and not obsessing over exact likeness. We both managed to succeed, I think.
I bet Paya the elephant didn’t obsess for one minute as she picked up HER brush. I may have to travel to Chaing Mai and study with her!
A long overdue mention here- I had never thought of setting up a blog, I just enjoyed reading everyone elses’. Had it not been for my friend Mary Schwalm, a most talented photographer who visited here in the fall, I never would have set this thing up. It’s Mary’s wonderful photo of St Croix on the heading of my banner. After morning coffee one day she pronounced: you are going to have a blog! And I’m going to set it up for you! Who could deny such a luxurious offer? So now I recognize, officially, the great lens and funny caption maker, Mary.
She shoots for Associated Press and her own pleasures which include animals, sports, and the oddball. She’s on my blogroll under Is Today A Zoo Day
See some of her wonderful work below: