26 December 2009

Butterfly Garden.

This is a commission from Hunter Gullickson as a Christmas present for his wife Sarah. I've worked with these two for nearly a decade and like both of them very much. It was an honor to make this painting.

Hunter asked for a painting of a butterfly garden. They recently planted a butterfly garden in their yard as a memorial to their son Alasdair who they lost at birth earlier this year. Instead of trying to forget, Hunter and Sarah decided to actively remember and celebrate their sons short life. Hunter told me that they are hanging a stocking this Christmas for Alasdair, and in it would be things for the garden.

This was an intimidating painting for me to start because of the seriousness of the subject matter. I didn't want it to seem trivial. I knew it would have to be a colorful and lush. I was handed me the image of the butterfly, the rebirth of the caterpillar as something infinitely more beautiful. Hunter used the word "celebration". I guess when it came down to it, it was all right there.
This is the type of painting that is the most rewarding for me. When I started this project, nearly a year ago, I expected that most of my requests would be flippant goofiness or challenges to my abilities. I've had a couple of those and they've been fun but I've been pleasantly surprised by how heartfelt and personal many of the requests on this blog have been. People have been very open. I've made many friendships painting here.
Hunter and Sarah do have a healthy and handsome 3 year old son named Simon. Hunter came to our house to pick up the painting and Simon and Theo had a chance to play. Simon's a really good kid. They should be very proud.

Thank You Hunter and Sarah!
And god bless Alasdair. May his memory be eternal.
...the Panda's one year anniversary will be this January 7th. Beth is giving me a new request which will be posted that day. Her last one was, of course, a Panda Licking on a Light Bulb...

25 December 2009

Ice Fishing...

This painting is for Bill Anderson as a gift from his wife Judy for Christmas. I've been sitting on it for a week not to spoil the surprise. Now here it is. The subject I was given ice fishing. What can I say?

I've been ice fishing once in my life. It was when I was in my early 20's. My friend Keith, a high school buddy, and I went winter camping with our friend and ex-high school English teacher Art Froehle. Froehle is a real character and we've kept in touch after all these years.
We stayed in a tiny cabin in the woods and it was really cold that weekend, almost beyond imagination. Cold even by January in Minnesota standards. I remember painfully walking across the frozen lake to the ice fishing house with a bunch of gear. The wind was biting us to pieces and I felt that it would never end and we would never be warm. It felt like hours, and when I think of it, I imagine a version of me still out there in an eternity of cold. Inside the little house was a fire, so it was warmer. Warm enough so that I didn't worry about it being a fire on ice over a frozen lake. Froehle for some reason left Keith and I in there by ourselves to fish (maybe it wasn't big enough for three?) while he would cross country ski around the lake. I'm not certain if we were ice fishing in a "correct" way. Neither of us had any idea of what we were doing. We just sat there holding our poles.
After one a few hours, one of us actually caught a fish ... but it got away... back down the hole somehow. I was secretly relieved because I didn't know what to do with it. It was like a giant active muscular slime tube. Do you let it flop around on the ice?
...But all and all, I have fond memories of this trip.

When I made this painting I thought about what someone would enjoy about ice fishing. It wasn't hard. Sitting outside on a lake in the morning by yourself, how beautiful and peaceful.
Beth suggested I do a painting of the inside of one of the crowded little houses. I thought that would only be interesting to people who didn't ice fish. The outdoors is what an ice fisherman would be interested in.
When I asked Judy about it, she said that Bill usually sits outside on a bucket. That seems like they to do it to me.

Thank you Bill and Judy!
Thank You Art Froehle for the memorable camping trip all of those years ago...