This is probably the most important moment in my artistic career. I finally finished this wedding present.
This painting has so much more meaning then simply a present that represents the love that my two dearest friends have for each other (Not that that is simple at all). It also represents the beginning of my career as a fine artist and the end of an era in my fine art career.
Let’s take this back to 2010. I was just finishing my third year at Sheridan College of Art and Design. I decided to use my summer co-op as an experiment of sorts to see what I should be doing after school. Instead of getting a design or Illustration co-op I opted to do an artist shadowing with one of my painting teachers. We worked in her studio and went to her summer portrait classes she taught and I painted for the first time for over 40 hours a week. I told myself if at the end of a 320 hour co-op if I never wanted to pick up a paint brush again I would be an illustrator. It was the best summer of my life and came out of it with such a high. In that high I found out my best friend was engaged and was going to get married the following summer. I told her I didn’t have any money and asked if I could paint her something instead. At the time I was only comfortable painting traditional still life so that is what I did. I asked her and her fiancé for objects that had special meaning to them and to their relationship. I set the whole thing up on my drafting table and I even had their wedding rings in my possession (Which made me loose sleep). I thought I would of had it done by the end of our final year of college no problem.
There was a problem. I bit off way more than I could chew. I had no idea what I was doing and every time I sat down to the easel I was struggling. Plus fourth year ended up taking up all my time and I had barely finished the under painting by the time I graduated. The struggles continued after that, I just wasn’t as good a painter as I thought I was. I was new to oil paint and I found it difficult to keep the technique the same every time I used it. My observational skills weren’t as fine tuned as I thought they were and I grew frustrated with my inability to create exact representations of what I was seeing. I took long breaks in between sittings and I worked on other projects and the occasional simple commission. With each piece my ability grew but I also grew more distracted with shows and endless projects. This painting continued to loom in the background of my life. It moved to three different apartments and has been seen by multiple roommates and parents and ex-boyfriends. As my abilities as an artist grew the more mistakes I found in my original painting and I found myself repainting parts over and over again, constantly shifting and reworking. Even now I look at it and see spots I could tweak but I won’t. This is the part of me that I only find when I work on this painting, the perfectionist, and you may be surprised to know that painting this way comes very natural to me. This was the painting that started it all and now that it is finally done I can move on and loosen up! You will never see me paint like this again, I can promise you that.
Let’s take a little visual journey…
After about 2 years of having my friend’s stuff still set up on my drafting table (sans wedding rings of course) they called me up one day and told me they was taking all their stuff back in two days and that was that. So I took a bunch of horrible reference photos and taped them up.
About a half a year later, I had moved in with my folks in Toronto for the summer while I figured out a new living situation. My father is a photographer and this is his editing station of sorts so we had to share studio space. It was a little cramped but we made it work. (Notice the wedding present is not on the easel)
Finally in my current place and it is almost done at this point and yet it still took another 2 years to finish. Notice all the other paintings littered about, no wonder it took so long. At this point I stopped sending the couple progress pictures and just posted on social media little close up detail shots once in a blue moon so they would know that I was working on it without revealing what the painting actually looked like.
In this past year I decided I wasn’t going to work on any other paintings until I finished this. I did paint a few floral studies because I cannot resist a good bouquet. But overall I didn’t work on any new stuff. It was difficult and frustrating but I persevered! I thought a professional picture of the finished painting was a good idea.
This is what it looked like 4 years ago after I had just finished the underpainting.
Finally, the finished piece. “The Gift” 24″ by 32″ Not for Sale :)
Details – The Cups
Details – Her addition to his bug collection
Details – The Rings
Details – Their trinkets. Also, the die is significant as well. Their anniversary is June 11th.
Details – String of pearls