The 13th painting in the count down is my first commission painting. It is a good thing I'm not superstitious!
Right about Thanksgiving 2008, an elderly lady from my church approached me and requested I paint her daughters favorite photo. The children are now 18 & 20, but it still remains her favorite. In fact, she has made it clear that if the house were to ever catch fire, save the photo first!
I was extremely flattered that the woman asked me to paint the portrait. It is only the 3rd portrait I have painted so I was also extremely nervous. What responsibility! What if she/ they don't like it? Could I do it???
I was so excited I agreed before I even saw the photo. I don't think I will agree to a price without seeing the photo again. - you live and learn-
When I received the reference photo I was reminded the value of the photo to the Mama. In the past, every reference photo I used ended up covered in paint! Nothing like adding a bit more pressure! I handled this worry by going to Kinko's and making a scan of the photo to use as my general reference photo, and not using the real one until I needed to get the colors just right. I kept the original under glass and fully protected.
Besides just being my 3rd portrait this was a very challenging one. Tons of shades of white, not to mention the face tones or the difficult angels. And I wont even go into painting the wicker!
I worked on this painting for months. Several times during the painting process I became discouraged. More than once I even thought "Man! You suck!" But I continued. After all, I agreed to do this. I checked around and found out most people who paint portraits take several months to finish. I believe the average is around 4 months so I decided I OK with the time it was taking.
On February 28th I posted it on Wetcanvas and several people gave some input which improved it. After looking at something for so long, sometimes you cant see it anymore. You know that old saying "you can't see the forest through the trees"? Well, its true!
Besides the critique, I also received much encouragement and praise for the portrait. To say I needed it is probably the understatement of the year. Among the praise, a few people even compared me to Norman Rockwell!!! I know he is much better than I am, but still wonderful to hear! I was even told that to "not to exploit my gift would be a waste..."!!! Also that I really should enter some major competitions!!! This flattered me immensely, also scared me. How could I enter competitions when I had such trouble with this painting, and it took so long?
When I corrected the things pointed out, I emailed a photo of the painting to both the mother and grandmother. Their response was incredible! Very very happy with it!!! I'll even quote her (the Mama) "WOW!!!!!!! Awesome........... God gave you a great gift. I've never seen a painting this good outside a museum, and I'm not exaggerating.Praise God that He gives us gifts though out our lives that we never see coming and they are more than we ever hoped or imagined. TRUE JOY from GOD knowing He gave you the gift and in using the gift you know you are right in His will were you should be. I cant thank you enough for painting my children, the painting i will cherish all my life.God Bless You and Thank You Again"
Now, I don't believe the painting is museum quality for even a second, but I am very encouraged and happy she likes it!
A painting needs to dry for about a month before the first coat of varnish can be applied, so it needed drying time before delivery was an option. I informed the Mama about this. I also told her that after a year the painting needed to receive it's final coat. The first week in March I returned the original reference photo to the grandmother. This was such a relief! -The grandmother later told me that she accidentally wrinkled the photo before returning it to the mother. This may sound bad, but I was happy it didn't happen while in my possession!-
So here is the reference photo:
And the finished painting:
The grandmother lives in the same small town I do. The Mama lives about an hour away. Last week the mother came to her mother's house for a visit. I took the painting over there for her to see. She started crying and gave me a big hug! Maybe it was worth the stress after all!