A Springtime Commission

 

Now that spring has made a grand and colorful entrance in Minnesota, I thought I would share more about this seasonally appropriate commissioned painting that I completed a few weeks ago:

Spring Day Reading Under the Trees.jpg

When I received a message from a kindred spirit inquiring about a painting inspired by "a peaceful spring day reading under the trees" I didn't have to think for more than a second about whether or not to take on the project! Yes, please (cue: Amy Poehler)! I felt immediately inspired. The time for dreaming of green grass and picnic-weather was ripe - my yard was still covered with a thick blanket of snow and my puffy parka jacket was barely enough to stay warm. The project had a kind of energetic creative possibility from the very start. I had so much fun bringing this meaningful imagery to life. An artist's work is often extremely solitary. I appreciate and am well-suited for the quiet, contemplative aspects of art practice. However, I found the opportunity to break outside of my own head to collaborate and share incredibly refreshing and inspirational! It was a joy and privilege to create with another in mind. A practice in compassion and relativity. I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much that I am working on another big project for a client. This time I will really be exploring some new subject matter. ...but more on that later!

Here is a little sneak peak into the process of collaborating on a commissioned piece:

Before my pencil even hit the paper my client and I discussed her vision. We had a meeting via video chat so that I could see her space and imagine the work in it. Potential formats were discussed. I was able to get a sense of her style and the objects she had carefully arranged at home. We decided that a vertical format would draw the eye up and work as a great focal point with plenty of breathing room.

From there, I began to collect imagery. I gathered pictures of spring-y things like lemonade, leaves, books, and cherry blossoms. I also had her send along images of some personal belongings like a favorite blanket, tote, books, scarf, and glasses. I loved including these individual touches to make the piece extra meaningful!

reference.jpg

Next, I drew up some tiny thumbnail sketches with potential ideas for composition, perspective, scale, and different objects to include/exclude. I absolutely love this stage when the possibilities feel limitless. It is an exciting time!

Sketches.jpg

Upon completion, I sent my sketches along for feedback and revision requests. I always have a bit of excited anticipation to hear which arrangement resonates most with the client. It is enlightening to learn which one they are drawn to and why. 

We narrowed it down to a few choices that I worked into larger, more detailed sketches and ultimately settled on the second one below:

Final Sketch 1.JPG
Revised Sketch 2.jpg

I found that the entire collaborative process feels a bit like solving a story problem or puzzle. I really enjoy the bouncing back and forth of ideas and getting feedback on the journey. It is super satisfying to watch a piece come alive and know that it will hold meaning for someone, bringing to mind what they wish to be reminded of every time they look at it. 

One of my personal favorite moments is this little bumble bee buzzing around the freshly squeezed lemonade and wild strawberries. Can you spy another tiny creature below? (I think I just channeled my inner elementary art teacher with that last one. Sorry! hehe)

Spring Day Reading Under the Trees - Detail.jpg

I was also really excited to learn that my client is a fellow bookworm. Two of the titles included were ones that she already had read and enjoyed. I suggested Moments of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh and she approved. The words resonated with us both. I love the meditation of writing out text. I also appreciated the relevance of the words to the piece as a whole:

Spring Day Reading Under the Trees - 2.jpg

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow -

even today I am still arriving.

 

Look deeply: every second I am arriving

to be a bud on a spring branch,

to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,

learning to sing in my new nest,

to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,

to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

 

I still arrive, in order to laugh and cry,

to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death

of all that is alive.

 

So, there you have it! Happy Spring to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere and I wish a sense of renewal and possibility to anyone reading, springtime or not. If you have any questions about the process or are interested in commissioning a painting of objects and/or an environment that is special to you, please feel free to be in touch via my contact form here!