Creative Guidance

Commissions, for me, are always a bit precarious.  I really enjoy them, but they have a whole different set of ideas to untangle than a painting I do entirely for myself.  I’m forced to think about the person receiving the painting and try to find some connection emotionally to the subject matter at hand.  In some cases, I can ask questions of the person(s) asking for the commission work.  In other cases, like this one, the person asking me to paint the subject was giving it as a gift to his wife, to whom the subject matter was very dear.  For most of us, a simple structure, such as this not-in-use roadside stop would not be terribly inspiring.  But to one who grew up spending her summers with her grandmother in the Eastern part of North Carolina, rocking on her grandmother’s porch and helping out in the store, the building holds years of sweet memories.  Yikes.  How does one paint that?

Creative guidance is not just needed, it is an absolute necessity!  I began work on this painting with fairly little information.  I knew that this was her grandmother’s store, that she had wonderful memories of it, that the house in the background was probably significant, but not sure.  I did not know whether the Amoco sign on the front was part of her memories, or a later addition still hanging on the facade of the unused building.  There were bars on the windows in the photo…were they there when she was a little girl visiting her grandma?  There was nothing but a rusty barrel sitting by the front door in the photo…what else might have been there??  Rocking chairs? A bench? Pots of flowers?  Gas pumps?  Well, I could only take artistic license so far.  I made some decisions, somehow they just “felt right”, and I went with it.

The painting gets framed and given.  I, in some senses, hold my breath hoping that all goes well when it is given to her on Christmas morning.  I don’t realize until later, upon hearing from her, just how much I had been guided in my choices.  The home in the background was actually her grandmother’s home, and the rocking chairs were the very ones on which she whiled away the summer’s evenings.  Her uncle now lives in that home.  The amoco sign?  It was the defining piece about that roadside store.

I’m grateful for the creative guidance I received.  Even more grateful to have been asked to be a small part of bringing joy to someone at Christmas; of memorialising sweet memories of days gone by.

0 thoughts on “Creative Guidance

  1. Dotttie Mobley says:

    You done a wonderful job of painting this building. I spent many hours with Ellen’s Grandmother in this building. It sure gives me a homesidk feeling. My granddaughter wishes she could get a picture like that We all really like it. The Wyoming Sister in law and Ellen’s great Aunt

  2. Timaree (freebird) says:

    Super painting. I can see it would be very difficult. I painted something for my sister once – a piece of folk art – and after she asked me to change “just this little bit” five times, I decided I would NEVER paint for someone again. Kudos to you for being able to do it.

  3. Cathy Brooks Edwards says:

    It is beautiful Jennifer and you are a true teacher in creative guidance. I also feel blessed that several people (who I didn’t know) purchased gift certificates for my healing hands on work. I thought about christmas morning and people opening up there certificates. I feel honored that I am apart of their lives.

  4. ellen says:

    As the wonderfully giddy recipient of this commission, I can definitely say – Jennifer nailed it! Thanks Jennifer and Steve.

  5. Rusty Mobley says:

    Hello Jennifer, I am a cousin of Ellen & grandchild of Dottie Mobley (posted on Dec 31st). Again, absolutely amazing job on the painting. I took my first and only trip (11 years old) in 1989 to North Carolina. The trip holds a special place in my life(Ellen can explain further). The most memorable part of the trip however was finally being able to visit this location that my grandfather had talked about so many times & seen pictures of my father & his brothers. I wanted to know if there was by any chance that you would have any reprints of this painting available for purchase. I would love to be able to hang a copy of this painting in my home. Thanks for your time Jennifer!

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