I just finished a beautiful new commission that was an absolute joy to do, but pretty much every commission is a joy to do.
In this case, it was a triptych of a group of Calla Lillies and while the piece was by no means a direct representation of the Calla Lillies blooming in my yard while I was working on the piece, the fantasmagorical display was definitely an integral part of my inspiration.
Calla Lillies are one of my favorite flowers. When spring arrives I am always delighted to walk out my back door and see the first bloom with its pure white cape surrounding the bright yellow stamen. Surrounding that first bloom are bunches of other green stalks awaiting their turn to bloom, and a great bounty of wavy green leaves framing it all.
These flowers arise throughout my entire yard and then fade as quickly as they arrive as spring begins to turn toward summer, and this year my annual Calla visitation coincided precisely with all the phases of my new commission.
I began by snapping photos of different leaves and flowers in closeup, then in wider combinations, moving back and forth between studies of the details, and images of the whole.
Next I took the photos into my office where I began to sketch ideas for the piece, playing with the different aspects of the flowers in my mind and on my tablet and begin a dialogue with my client about what she’s feeling, what calls to her, and what images she imagines for the space in her home where the piece will ultimately live.
These days I call myself a translator. I am translating the client’s feelings and thoughts about the piece and combining that with the natural reality of the world around me, adding a touch of something that moves beyond the natural, taking my impression of what I see in nature, combining that with the client’s thoughts and intentions, and bringing out a new thing that has never existed before and will never exist in the same form again. Along the way I hope to touch the numinous, that part of every creation that moves inside you, touches your heart, and maybe makes you cry… or laugh… or just stop and stare in wonder.
In the case of these Callas there is another element involved. As a triptych it consists of three parts that while working together as a whole are also intended to stand alone. While they are going to live in a very specific spot in my client’s bedroom they may also find other places to live and be as her own relationship with the piece evolves over time.
Throughout the process something of the original changes. A new flower I didn’t see at the beginning cries out to be brought into reality, new leaves grow where only empty space existed in the beginning, and the color of the sky transforms as my client sees the work come alive and makes her own contributions to the piece. The entire experience is a collaboration between me and my client and the flowers themselves.