When I am doing commissioned projects, I often feel a responsibility to honor the memories people entrust me with – which was very much the case with my most recent portrait project.
My client Matt approached me to do a painting of his grandparents, which is reason enough to make sure I cherish the image with my painting – but in talking with Matt, I also learned that his grandfather is in poor health. Matt’s goal with the painting was to honor his grandparents and create something that will bring joy to them and will be treasured by the whole family.
I like to learn about the people I am painting, and Matt shared how warm and loving his grandparents are - adding that they are the type of people who accept and appreciate their family no matter what. He talked about how they are always happy and excited just to see their children and grandchildren, and nothing ever gets in the way of that. They are also warm and loving with each other, so the photo Matt chose to have me work from was perfect.
Starting with the image below, we talked about things that Matt’s grandparents would appreciate, like the fact that his grandmother loves purple and that his grandfather has worn the same silver watch since he was in the military. Using the notes I took from my conversation with Matt, I tweaked the composition and colors of the photo to focus the attention on his grandparents and their embrace while highlighting the things they will appreciate and enjoy. I also wanted the painting to have a joyful and hopeful feeling.
Matt just gave the painting to his grandparents yesterday. Unfortunately, his grandfather was having a difficult day - but Matt shared that when he saw the portrait he just glowed. Both of his grandparents were shocked, thrilled and touched by this incredibly thoughtful gift from one of their grandchildren who wanted to give back just a little of the love and joy he and the whole family has received from two amazing people.