I have dealt with mold on old cheese or bread but never on my paintings. So I was a bit dismayed Thursday evening when I saw MOLD on the back of my painting that was to be presented to the client the very next day! YIKES. In a panic....not sure how long the process of "sun-drying" and brushing it off was going to take, I called my clients. They had a six hour drive ahead of them to see the painting and hang out in Fayetteville. Did they want to postpone their trip?
They decided to risk it....to make the trip even if they couldn't take it home because of mold. Thankfully Friday was sunny and I took it outside in order to start the process.
It felt like failure. How did I not notice until Thursday night?! Why didn't I think of mold when the other items were molding in my garage? Why was it in the garage, you might ask. Well, the commission had generated enough extra money to insulate my studio! An amazing opportunity, except for the month and a half that my studio stuff was in the garage was really really rainy.
Back to the mold....I googled what to do. And then my husband got involved. I was sick at the thought of bleach or Lysol touching my painting, but we had to kill that mold. I was in my studio checking the other paintings for mold when I heard him on the phone talking about the painting.... He got off and I asked him whom he had been talking to? To my surprise he had called the conservation expert for the Smithsonian! After hearing her advice, he made a quick store run.... for a vacuum with a HEPA filter, Lysol spray, and a brush. When he returned he made war on that mold.
Once the mold was gone, we hung it up in our living room and covered it with a queen size purple sheet. We had about one hour before their arrival. I was a ball of nerves. Excited because I thought I "nailed it" (made a striking piece that accomplished what they asked for)… but what if they didn't agree? I had done the scary thing and I chose to hope and trust that my ability to deliver had not escaped me.. This was different than my first commissioned oil painting in 2005, when I made two paintings and let that client choose
Before I went in to present them I guessed which one they would choose. Option #2 it was. Unknown to them that day my confidence was being built through that process of deciding.
My process of getting the pertinent information from clients has evolved over the years. Since I have over 50 oil paintings of various sizes, styles and color schemes, we look through past works and have a discussion. I ask questions such as, "Which ones are your favorites?" And why? I take note of the style (whether it is more expressionistic or more patterned?) "Which ones do you not like?" "What size are you thinking? (At times budget dictates this but we have always managed to find the right formula for impact and budget.) "Any color that you absolutely do not like? “ Also, in most cases, I make the piece to fit the room, so I also ask if there are items in the room that they don't like, so I know NOT to consider those items,whether it is a rug, chair, or curtain. I take all the visual information from the space and their personal opinions of my past works, then when the check is written for half of the entire cost, they receive my creative energy and focus.
Then they WAIT......these clients waited 4 months with no previews or work in progress shots. I chose not to post because I wanted their first look to be in person.
This client had a unique request, to name the piece. But I think in the future I would like to make this a new practice in presenting commissions. In the past I have just delivered and hung the commission and mission was complete, but I really enjoyed the interaction and feedback I got from them after the piece was presented. Because they are not just clients, but also friends, they stayed two nights with us before they drove their piece home. It was surprising to me that Tammy, within the first hour of seeing it, thought of the name, "The Perfect Day." So we did not need to conduct a group naming session, it just fit. The name also confirmed that the piece accomplished the goal.....to loosely depict the feeling she gets riding her bike on trails in autumn. As she put it, "her happy place". It is where she goes to find her peace. It is one of the ways she has persevered in her fight against thyroid cancer and now life without a thyroid. I felt honored to be a part of encouraging her by creating this piece. She is an amazing woman.
Now "The Perfect Day" resides in Georgia. My studio feels a little bare, which is a good thing.... because I am waiting for all 18 of my 8 foot by 6 inch canvases to arrive. This new work will mark the largest single piece I have ever made and I will be documenting the process here. This piece will be about a difficult topic for me: separation, more specifically, deployment. My information for this piece is first hand knowledge from the 6 deployments my family and I have experienced.
What is something that you have always wanted to create, but never have? Why not? I was waiting for a better time. I didn’t want to put myself out there. It was just a dream until I started researching and putting actions to it. Others are involved now. Stakes are raised, but I believe that what I have walked through on this journey has prepared me for this undertaking. Doing a public piece, one that is made for a public space rather than a home, has been a goal for me for years, so being at the beginning of the process is daunting and exhilarating all at the same time. Will you join me through this process?