Ideally, commissions for paintings are usually clear and straightforward and they haven’t changed much since the days of Michelangelo. For example: I agree to paint your subject for x amount of florins, euros or dollars; we agree on the medium and the dimensions, and we agree on the deadline for its completion. I insist on being paid half the fee for my work in advance. After business matters are settled, it’s my responsibility to finish and deliver the work. I do my best to make you content so that you write a check for the remainder of my fee.
In the “real” world of painting on commission, the best of circumstances happen rarely. In the case of “A Wedding,“ however, the situation could hardly have been better. The client’s request was straight and clear: Please paint me and my husband alone in front of the altar on our special day. No priest, no altar boys, no relatives, just us.
The most important component of a wedding is the bride and groom; everything else is background. But what if the background is as interesting as the couple? Especially if it overflows with symbols? I mean that in the altarpiece behind this couple there’s nothing less than saints and angels witnessing the vows of the Sacrament of Matrimony. So I painted the watercolor accordingly, as if the earthly and heavenly realms reflected each other, both equally important.
Often clients don’t like such imaginative interpretations. In this case, the client was content and paid me what amounted to almost half of a round trip ticket to Madrid.
That was four years ago. I hope that, with the blessings of the Heavenly Host, the happy couple is still a happy couple.
2 thoughts to “A Wedding”
Tradition! And I love that the bride is not wearing white~~~a symbol of modernity? breaking tradition? creating contrast? There’s lots of depth to this “story!”
I don’t mean to be blasphemous, but I appreciate how the figure of Christ (top center) is cropped for the sake of the newly married couple below. The bride, after all, is wearing a celestial gown just full of stars, and it wouldn’t do to shortchange that dress for a fuller rendering of Cristo Pantocrátor, or whatever form he actually takes at the top of that altar. It’s best to leave that to the imagination.
There is a lot to admire in this painting: the amazing detail, especially the altarpiece (retro-tabula), but also the flowers, ah the flowers! The corsage almost takes center stage, balanced by the gorgeous lilies at the base of the altar. I also find the richness and depth of the colors remarkable. So too the stone of the altar, the flames of the candles. But what really has me amazed is that this is a watercolor! I confess that I don’t know much about the medium, but I have always associated watercolors with more impressionistic results than this remarkably clear eyed, detailed and loving treatment.
One more thing, and this does have to do with the work being a watercolor. The artist has left the edges of the painting loose, not enclosed or stopped where the color runs out. What is the result? Openness. Just put a straight edge against the image where the color stops, and you can appreciate how the painting closes up and becomes somewhat static. Instead it is free, light and gorgeous.