Monday, March 2, 2009

Visiting a Collector

On a recent trip to the West Coast, we visited the home of one of my most faithful collectors. I can't believe it was about twenty years ago that she first commissioned me to paint a portrait of her granddaughter. Soon after that, I painted her two grandsons. That was in the '80s. By the '90s she had two more grandchildren, and she commissioned a double portrait of them. A few years ago I painted a full-length portrait of her youngest granddaughter.

It was almost overwhelming to find that she and her husband had decorated an entire room to showcase the portraits. Of course this is not really about my artwork--it's about her grandchildren--but nevertheless I did not expect to walk into a room and be surrounded by my own artwork. I suspect I am not alone in feeling embarrassed by this. Artists are notoriously self-critical, especially about their own work, and if it was painted 20 years ago the feeling is more intense. At the same time, it was like seeing an abbreviated version of the development of my style, which can be a very enlightening experience. I think the most important thing about seeing ones artwork in someone's home is realizing that art isn't completely frivolous, that the opportunity to create something that brings happiness to someone else has a value.