Lillian's First Birthday
Here is the most recent example of a custom work. This was commissioned as a first birthday gift, that would bring many years of enjoyment and wonder. As with any commission, it's important to get input from the client, and to understand as much as possible about what is important to them. Sometimes I will include actual photos, which I manipulate and print or transfer, and ephemera that people may have collected over the years on special occasions. These might include maps, wine or liquor labels, invitations, correspondence, tickets, etc. The real item needs not be destroyed, as they can be scanned, and the original returned.
The painting for Lillian began with a large list about her parents, both as kids, and adults, and extended family. Some of the things I tried to include were places they have lived, where they originated from, some of their favourite pastimes, games, rituals, and more. Cycling is very important, skiing, music, Scrabble, reading, travel, and the family dog, amongst many others.
Once there is enough information, it's time to start gathering potential materials, and begin the painting. There is never enough room to use all the materials collected, but it's better to have more to choose from so the aesthetics work as well as the narrative.
Even the numbers on the stamps, as well as their providence, are meaningful. All the numbers and letters match important dates in some way or another. The information is recorded, so it can be shared later, as quite often, much of the ephemera is covered in paint, drawing, and other layers, but it's still there.