Maria’s Delightful Masterpiece Attempt: an exercise in collaboration

You might think this is another regressive piece. You might be right. You might also think this is a lot like the Pomegranate Mural, another semi-erotic piece about girl you have feelings for. You are also right.

I enjoy this style. It is more “me” than anything else I do. So it makes sense that I revert to this when I am painting subject matter that I have a deep emotional connection with. The mural I did last year, I loved every moment of painting that mural. I felt great and everything just flowed. I hit a few snags here and there, but once I got going, it was just a flourishing of inspiration and creativity.

This piece was not quite so easy. In fact,  I struggled with this more than any other painting. Ever. This was WORK. It’s a lot smaller than the mural, so you would think it would be less daunting just by nature, right?

WRONG. This was sincerely challenging and I am legitimately surprised that I got through it. So here we are, it has been finished and posted. Now what?

The back story:

This piece was commissioned by Maria. It’s of her, for her. And that’s the main difference. It is very difficult doing a painting for  someone you love, let alone of them. She actually bought the canvas for me after we had only known each other for a short time. I convinced her to pose for me (awesome) and promised her something great. I’m good for it.

I thought this would be easy. I had it all planned out, knew exactly where I was going with it. But it just wasn’t working. I can’t tell you how many times I had to go over colors because they were wrong. I mixed colors in every empty jar I had in my apartment (something I hate doing and try to avoid if possible). I let it sit dormant for weeks at a time. It was stressing me out. Nothing was coming together.

Maria would ask me to work on it, and sometimes, I indulged her. Finally, after I had been on this painting wave, she thought maybe it was time to put some more focus into this.

I worked on it for a few days and it was starting to come together. Apparently I needed the Rainbow piece and Points of Deliberation as a warm-up to really get going. At last, I came home from work, laid down the final colors, and did my touch ups. I presented it to her and…..there was mostly silence.

“What do you mean it’s not done?”


What? This has never happened to me before. I have never had a piece rejected as unfinished. I’m the artist God damn it. After a few moments of silence, and walking around the piece, we talked about it more specifically. She looked at it for a long while, and finally presented me with the specific areas she wanted changed.

Okay, I can do this. I can handle criticism (not that true). Sometimes I fail at coping with failure, and this was definitely one of those times. It was hard. I may or may not have cried. Let’s just leave it at that.

Anyway, after talking extensively about our feelings (did I really just write that?) She went back to reading stories out loud to me from her travel blog and I went back to work.

We went through this cycle two more times before this piece emerged as you see it here. So much struggle, but I think it was worth it.

It would be fitting if I could draw analogies to our relationship from this but I can’t. This situation where she wasn’t initially satisfied with my art project is about the most conflict we have experienced between us. What I can say, is that I have learned the following things:

1. Art making is challenging (sometimes)

2. I have a lot of feelings about my work (and a lot of feelings in general)

3. The feelings and the challenge make the artwork into what it is

4. Taking advice from clients doesn’t have to end badly (you are the artist, but you are not unreasonable)

That is the story. I know most of my entries about paintings are not this detailed or personal, but I felt compelled to share. It is usually very natural for me to express myself through painting, but this time it was not. Usually my emotions come out one way or the other, but I am pleased to find that this piece doesn’t seem to convey the struggle that went into its creation. It may not have come out exactly as I intended in the beginning, but that is rare anyway, and I think it managed to come together to express the proper emotion I was going for.

even after I took my client’s advice.



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