In November, a lovely woman named Maryanne contacted me requesting an artwork based on her very first date with her husband. The auspicious event had taken place in Boston’s South End at the Franklin Cafe on Shawmut Avenue. Several years and two children later, Maryanne wanted to give an artwork featuring the cafe as a gift to her husband.
I loved the idea! The plan was that I would paint a photograph of the Franklin Cafe. She told me which of my city scenes she liked best, and the colors that appealed to her, so I was able to get a sense of what she would like. I went to the Franklin Cafe on several occasions to take photographs, as there were usually parked cars or sidewalk garbage cans interfering with the view. In the end, I opted for a close-up angled shot taken right from the sidewalk, as I felt it was important to show the distinctive martini glass sign.
Maryanne wanted to give the art to her husband as a Christmas gift. When I fell on ice in December and my knee broke, I wondered how in the world I was going to finish the piece in time for Christmas. I had to have surgery to piece my kneecap back together, and I was reliant on my partner Joe for almost everything. The first week home from the hospital, I couldn’t get into or out of bed on my own. But it was important to me that I finish it, so I had to find a way.
Luckily, a few years ago I invested in an additional smaller version of the Cintiq drawing display (13″) to use at home. I remember thinking it would come in handy during snowstorms if I couldn’t get to my studio. Because it is so small, I find it difficult to work on and not exactly time-efficient, but I was able to prop it up on my good leg in bed and slowly (okay, painstakingly!) finish the piece. An added plus was that working with the warm glowing romantic reds, pinks, oranges, and purples actually helped me to feel better during that difficult time. Color therapy!
My trusty printer Mark Peterson had me upload the digital file to him, so that he could print it without my having to be there. My heart ached to not be able to be there for the printing, and to not even see it in print before it went to Maryanne, but Mark and I discussed it enough that I knew it would come out right. Mark was kind enough to serve as the pick-up point for Maryanne, and so she was able to get the artwork in time for Christmas!
I did a painting (below) last fall for a couple who just bought their first home together. I had done a portrait of their cat several years ago, so I made sure to add their kitty boy to the home’s interior. Knowing how excited they were to finally have a home together that belongs to them (and what a darling home it is) made it really fun to create the piece.
I love this type of project because it’s based on a specific place that is special to someone. For many of us, places can hold great significance and emotion. Creating an artistic image of a meaningful place is such a welcome challenge. In fact, it is the reason I paint so many Boston scenes. In that case, the whole city is my special place!
Thanks so much for reading. If you’re in the Boston area, you might like to know that First Friday is this week, on Feb. 2 from 5-9 at 450 Harrison Avenue. More than 80 artists in my studio building will have their doors open to the public, so come on down, enjoy the art, and meet the artists!