Friday, June 4, 2010

I Can Finally Share My Secret

Brett has been working on a painting for a few months, but I haven't been allowed to talk about it to anyone (let's face it, towards the end my neighbors were in on the secret).  But now I can finally let you all see the process and the final product.

After Brett's art exhibit at VCUQ in December and January Brett had some very nice comments.  Our friends Ernie and Jane Richter were especially complimentary, so complimentary that Ernie called Brett and commissioned a painting on behalf of the American School of Doha Board of Trustees.  The seven year director of ASD is leaving for a new job this month, so the board was looking for just the right way to show their appreciation for all his dedication and hard work.  They asked Brett to create an appreciative gift in the form of a painting.  The ASD community is very tight so we were asked to keep the gift a secret so Dr. Ladd would not find out.  That was all I had to do for the project but it was difficult not to advertise Brett's great opportunity.

Brett had to first decide WHAT to paint.  We don't know Dr. Ladd well at all, so it was especially challenging for Brett to choose the subject for a very personal painting.  He didn't think he could go wrong if he did a painting of students at the school.  He spent some time at the school taking pictures of buildings and kids.  He had very willing students who agreed to let him try and capture the action of the campus as best he could, even though they were unaware of the reason.

After the photos came the photo shop work of composing a balanced, pleasing setting to recreate.  When that was accomplished Brett printed a gigantic copy in black and white with carbon on the back.  Then he proceeded to transfer reference points of the image onto a gridded canvas with a very tedious technique shown below.  Then finally the palette knife and paints came out and Brett lost himself in the studio.

Not quite finished

Finished painting but unframed

He learned that he is not a fan of deadlines (but who is?) and not a fan of commissioned work.  It is always easier to make something with your own vision than a client's.  He seemed to have a love/hate relationship with his creation.  I was in Utah and Colorado for a good portion of his work on this painting, but when I got back, I could tell it was going to be wonderful.  With our trip to Sri Lanka and the time it takes for the paint to dry, Brett had this piece of artwork timed down to almost the hour, and we found ourselves praying for paint to dry in the last few days before framing.  Because Brett is such a brilliant husband, he finally listened to his wife and opened the studio windows to let the hot air of Doha dry out those thick layers of impression and it worked.

We were invited to the celebration dinner for the Ladds at the Four Seasons Hotel where the painting would be unveiled.  Brett was so nervous he couldn't eat for most of the day and just picked at the delicious five star meal we were served that night.  And if you know Brett, you know that nothing gets in the way of his five meals a day.  I think he was so nervous he didn't even hear the gasps of delight from the audience as the painting was uncovered.  It was a success and the Ladds really loved their gift.  Everyone was complimentary and I could see the stress drain from my husband's face as Ed shook his hand and thanked him.  Unfortunately I enjoyed the evening more than Brett did because of his nervousness, but it is always easier to be the doting, supportive wife than the one on the hot seat.  Dr. Ladd liked the painting so well and was so appreciative that he put it on display at the school the last few days so the students and staff could see it.  The ASD newsletter also highlighted it on the front page.

Here Brett and an employee of the hotel are wrapping the painting up in bubble wrap so it can be taken home by the Ladds.  If you saw my post about the Al Thani Museum field trip I went on with the third grade, you will know why the bubble wrap is so hilarious.

Thinking over the opportunities Brett has had with his art work and career make me realize that Doha has been a tremendous blessing in our lives; a tremendous challenge as well, but such a unique time for us to have more family time than ever before and time for Brett to really invest in his art.  Now if only he could have this same job in Utah . . . .


Amy said...

He really is talented huh? :D I'm glad it was so well received! It is beautiful.

Amy said...

Brett, you are so talented! I'm so glad that this Doha experience has done so much not only for your family, but for each of you personally. I don't know much about the terminology, but I love that he's able to make those large brushstrokes of paint and when you stand back, it creates light and shadow.

Is that how he creates all of his large paintings (in that graph/block) method? I'm glad it dried on time, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of his creations!

Kristy said...

I love it, I love it, I LOOOOOOVE IT!!! Great post, Mom, and what a great Dad I have! Love you both sooo much!

terahreu said...

It is absolutely beautiful and I was lucky enough to see it in person! I can't wait to see his next project! It was so fun to see the unveiling.

Jared said...

Wow Mom and Dad. This is beyond cool. I was mesmerized both by the post and the painting. Dad, you are truly amazing. Congratulations!

Amber said...

That is SO great! Amazing. How exciting for you to be married to an artist who can make YOU lovely things.