Creating custom artwork can be risky, both for the artist and the customer. There is no guarantee that the artist’s vision will match the client’s. The artist needs to know which questions to ask, and which to leave unasked when discussing the client’s desires.
I have learned that some clients want to spell everything out and leave nothing to surprise, hoping to get exactly what they have already pictured – but this is rare. Most clients have an idea, but lack the inner vision that artists have, and this is why they come to us. I think it is part of my job to create something they wanted, but never knew it was even possible, never pictured it in that way.
The project I have been working on the past few days came from a simple conversation. Someone liked my slate garden marker stakes, but wanted something more decorative, less functional. She wanted something with flowers and butterflies covering the entire stake, and requested no writing, no label. I asked if specific flowers were favored, and she said No, that she loved all flowers. She did state her favorite colors included purples and lavenders, but otherwise has no color restraints.
So I got to work. I chose the butterflies first, monarchs, blue morphos, and tiger swallowtails. I chose those to have drastically different colors from each other, and they had no purples. I pictured a swirly lavender background full of motion since butterflies are always on the move. Then I chose a favorite flower snack for each butterfly in a pink/purple/magenta shade; milkweed, butterfly bush, and thistle.
I needed extra room in my tiny studio since my easel fills my desk. I improvised a work table by placing a cardboard shipping box on top of a laundry hamper. Yes, there is laundry still inside of it. There is always laundry inside of it. Besides, if I did all the laundry, I’d have no time to paint and my table would lack stability. I’d like to say the notebooks were there to adjust the angle, but in reality, they were sitting there before I started painting, and so they stayed there. I get so excited to start painting I don’t notice my surroundings, and in fact didn’t notice them until I posted this picture.
And here they are all done. I hope the client enjoys them in her garden as much as I enjoyed painting them.