Remembering Tedi — A Commission Story

One of the reasons I wanted to start this Art Blog, was to share my art process. I think many people think artists just do what they do, and it is not ever a struggle, and it all just comes naturally. Well, that is not my experience, and it is also not the experience of many artists I have shared with. For me, art is always like finding my way in the dark until I can see the light.

So my first blog here is about my most recent commission. I have not done a ton of commissioned work, and it is has always been directly from a photograph. But this case was a little different, in that my client had a clear idea of what she wanted … and sent me 4 pictures to try to put it together. She wanted a painting of her friend Jenny with her pet mackaw Tedi. Tedi had recently passed, and so the painting was to be a memorial. Here are the four pictures she sent:

What a beautiful bird!

So luckily I have playing around with photoshop for a little bit, and have figured out some of the basics. I pulled two of the images together, and used that to sketch out the basic form of the image on paper:

I sent this to my client, and she seemed pleased. We talked a bit about background color, and I sent her some additional photoshopped picture edits. She decided on black background, but with light shining down over Tedi.

So next I got to work just laying out blocks of color on the canvas. I sent my client the next photo. She liked the image … but indicated she wanted the light to be much softer.

Honestly, that soft light was the hardest part of the painting for me! I ended up using a bit of pearl gouche paint over the black to make the light shimmer a bit and that seemed to work. Every time I worked on the painting, I took a photo of my progress. Sometimes I would send to the client, but more often, I would just study the photo to see where I needed to go.

Here are some of my progress pics along the way. (Don’t mind my messy basement background!).

The nice thing about acrylic paint, is it is very forgiving! Unlike ink or watercolor, you can paint right over prior work and make adjustments. It is a great choice for commissioned work because of that!

Finally, I hung the painting on my wall to ponder it for a few days. I asked hubby what he thought, and he said that although he does not know a lot about art, he knew the painting captured the love this woman had for her bird, and also, that it was done! It was perfect input, because knowing when a painting is done, is one of hardest decisions in art! I have ruined many a drawing or painting by not stopping when it is done.

So here is the final product:

I was very happy with how it came out, and so was the client.

But more importantly, so was her friend. When she finally received it, this is what she shared on Facebook:

You’re beautiful work will bring me so much joy and so many sweet memories for years to come. ♥️I still cry happy tears each time I look at it. Tedi would have loved it as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You captured her so perfectly.

The joy I get from receiving a comment like that is exactly why I love to make art. Art connects people to each other, to their pets, to the past, and to the future. I feel so blessed to be able to have the support I do from family and friends to be able to spend time pursuing my passion. Over the past few months I have been remembering how important art was to me when I was young. I did not pursue art then (although I did take 1 college course freshman year), because I didn’t think I could make it as an artist, and thought I should be pursuing a more intellectual career.

I don’t regret the path I took. I have spent a lot of time getting to know myself for the past 30 years, and I feel today my art is pure love and joy and is about connecting to others — and I may not have been ready for that when I was younger. And God willing, I will live another 30 years or so to paint and draw to my heart’s content.


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