I've been working on commissions lately. Not my own stuff. I haven't blogged about any of it because some of them were gifts, and who knows who reads this. I sent the last one off in the mail today to Red Deer. My studio and living room were looking kind of bare, not having multiple canvases in various stages of completion leaning about. Today I came home with a fresh batch of canvas and birch panel, and each has a tiny not written somewhere on the wrapping to remind me what it's for. New ideas brewing, and some spontaneous inspiration I had just today! Now I just need it to be Monday... One commission in particular gave me GREAT satisfaction to send off finally. I sent it yesterday. It was a challenging one, that is for sure. Of course....Patrick will HATE that I wrote a blog about his painting...so I just phoned him to ask if that was alright. He said it was. (Thanks Patrick!)
Last October I went to visit my Aunt Margie and Uncle Patrick in Toronto. They each asked me if they could commission me for a painting. Margie had something specific in mind: a landscape of Southern Alberta. Easy. I had LOTS of lovely pictures to choose from for that. Patrick wasn't sure. He needed to think about it. He wasn't in a hurry and said he'd get back to me. Over the course of the next few months, there were emails and facebook messages with various ideas he had of things he'd like to see me paint....or things he had seen me paint and post already that sparked more ideas and further indecision in him. It took him a while to settle on what he really wanted me to paint for him.
And then....he passed it on the TTC on the way home from work one day. Quite literally. A man. An older Asian fellow. Very stern looking, he said. Standing on a busy street corner, in Toronto, during rush hour....holding up a large black cross with a white figure on it. Just standing there. Not talking to anyone (as far as Patrick could tell) but just standing there, making a very silent proclamation. Here was the rub. I didn't see it. I live in Alberta! I was NOT on the bus that day. I didn't see the man, the cross, the busy street, the height of the angle from which Patrick passed him on the bus. And Patrick had no picture. Therefore, I had no visual reference. Just a story, a few visual descriptions and that was it.
I'm good....but I'm not THAT good.
So, after my Aunt Margies' short career as a street corner model/driver-photographer while Patrick posed on the corner with an umbrella (I am sorry if I am muddling some of these details....but I'm piecing them together from various hilarious phone conversations with Margie and emails from Patrick....so forgive me, both of you!) and some random advice from a bystander, I finally had my 'visual reference' of this scenario. A compilation of emails, descriptions (stern looking, blue suit, large black cross with a white figure). But I couldn't ACTUALLY see what he saw. There was no definitive picture. I had so many questions! So many blanks to fill. I couldn't SEE all of it. If I can see it, I can draw it. I can invent stuff or subtract stuff based on what inspiration comes while looking at the subject I'm painting....but there wasn't a WHOLE PICTURE at any time. It was a bit stressful. I'm not really sure when I resigned myself to the fact that I just had to go with it and piece together what I could. I did that and here is my interpretation of all these things put together:
From October to May. This is the result of my most extensive artistic collaboration yet. I called it 'what I saw on the way home'. I sent him a picture of it and the comment that he made to me yesterday over the phone struck me the most. That what he wanted was MY interpretation of what he saw....and I did that, and he liked it. And he didn't want me to change it.
He should be in possession of it by next Friday. I should be fully recovered from it by then too. ;)