This commissioned piece started in California, over a year ago.
I was in California for the wedding of two dear friends, Phil and Nickie. I know Phil from my undergrad days at Michigan State University. The wedding celebration was like some sort of magical reunion, bringing together my best friends from growing up in Rockford, Michigan and adding to them newer friends and kind, familiar faces from my days at university. It was here that I reconnected with someone from MSU who I hadn't gotten to know very well during my time in East Lansing, a gem of a young woman named Kelly. As it happened, Kelly and her husband, Will, live pretty close to Ann Arbor, so we decided to keep each other on the radar once we were back MItten-side.
Well, I ran into Kelly and Will again at a Christmas party later that year, and this past summer, I saw Kelly and Will at Top of The Park in A2, totally by chance. Kelly mentioned picking up a copy of my book in the Food Coop in Ypsilanti (although not knowing it was MY book at the time), and floated the idea of commissioning a piece of artwork for her sister and her partner. I was happy take on the project. Commissions provide some exciting challenges for me as an artist. Trying to realize someone else's vision using my own skills and particular style can be a really rewarding experience, with lots of frustration and growth along the way. Kelly wanted a portrait of her sister and her sister's partner, and gave me some excellent direction. She requested that I include: nature, salmon (which has personal, symbolic significance for the couple), water, and a tree in the style of The Most Beautiful Tree. I took those elements and created the piece seen above. there are some things I wish had turned-out differently, but I'm mostly satisfied with how it turned-out, and Kelly seemed to approve. For me, the biggest win for this piece is how the 2 figures translated into my style of illustration. Portraiture has always been really scary for me...but maybe a little less-so, now.