Different people have different approaches in how they give me a painting request. Some people tell me a story, some give a detailed description, some just offer me a word a single word and ask me to take it from there. I usually like to get the patron to brainstorm with me so we can collaboratively come up with an idea, but not everyone is open to that.
Leon approach, on all four paintings we've done together on this blog, is to tell me about the person the painting is intended for, and let me go from there. This time, however, he came up with the idea of painting the San Francisco skyline with blue and white, the colors of the Finland. I liked this but wanted one more image to really peg the Finnish reference. After some Google Image searches, I found out that the swan was a the National bird of Finland. I realized that a flying swan was roughly in the shape of a cross, the symbol on the Finnish flag. Everything from here fell easily into place. ...But I wanted it to be a little subtle, not too graphic, more naturalistic. I think it does the trick.
I've had some revelations over the past couple of weeks. I've been working on a proposal to try to get an artist fellowship. One of the things I needed to do was write a narrative about my work. I cut and pasted together pieces from the many artist statements I've written over the past five years and tried to make something cohesive out of my old ideas. On the second page of it I mention this blog/project and quickly dismiss it.
The people who I asked to review this ugly first draft called me on it. I've certainly spent a lot of time on this project over the past year. (This is my 31st painting for the Panda since January!). Beth, my wife, read it and her response was, " why do you treat the blog like the ugly step sister?".
Time to rethink this?
I've been relooking at what I do here and have decided maybe there is more to it than I thought. Previously, this was a fun little project to engage people. Now, I'm seeing a strange complexity to the whole thing that wasn't completely consciously intended. I'm also seeing more connections between this and my "personal" work.
When the awesome writer, Karen Lillis, kindly set up the FaceBook page for the Panda, she asked if I wanted any of my other work in the "pictures" section. I told her "no" and that the works live in two different universes. She thought this was funny (probably thought I was funny). I think I was a little delusional. I was thinking very rigidly in my strict separation.
I do think this project does need to remain as separate body of work and keep it's rules and focus the same for it to remain interesting, however, it should be separate but equal. Right?
The Panda is now almost half of what I talk about on that narrative and I'm working out and artist statement for this project alone. ...but I'm not changing it.
Thank You, Leon, for your triumphant return to the blog.
Here is a link to my new website...of my "other" work: http://www.johnmegas.com/
...and read The Second Elizabeth by Karen Lillis. http://www.myspace.com/eyescorpion