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Painting: Circus

"Look out of any window, any morning, any evening, any day.
Maybe the sun is shining, birds are singing,
No rain is falling from a heavy sky.
What do you want me to do, to do for you to see you through?
For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago."
The Grateful Dead

36x36" canvas, acrylics

work-in-process shot

Out of nowhere, quite unexpectedly, I painted a large canvas as a gift for a friend for a special occasion. It's a risk, to paint for someone you know, to paint a gift, because you put your heart into your work and try not to let the fact that you are making it for someone constrain energy or color or style. This painting came together in about 5 days, working in the kitchen with a drop cloth and other necessities to protect the area from errant drips and sprays. At one point I stepped in a blob of pthalo blue and walked that around the kitchen. It's funny because I can look at it in a certain mood and say it's just a mess on canvas, and then in another mood quite adore it. I struggle with this feeling that I should put something "real" on top of the abstract marks, but when I try to do that it all goes downhill. I love how I learn new things with each painting and I love to incorporate what I learned in the last paintings, without even realizing. 

Have you created art as a gift? How did it go? Did you find yourself working differently because it was a gift - putting greater thought into the work, or getting stuck? Is it easier to gift artwork that you have already finished, or create artwork with the intention of gifting it to someone?

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Reader Comments (8)

This is such a great question, Tammy. I have, in fact that is my preference, to gift my art, however I am finding I rather like selling it to people as gifts to themselves or to others. The thing with me is I don't know how to put a price on something. Also, I don't like to sell, anything to anybody. I prefer to BE of Service, to give from a place of Enough, and thus my art making is, first a gift to Life, the Universe, hey, I'll even say to God, yet mostly is a gift to myself. I love when I can see a moment or hour or many days in something I have made. I love when I can see how I have learned and changed and grown and expanded through my art.
I have friends whom I have trained, apparently ;~D to expect a gift of my art. At this moment I have several un-given YET gifts for my dear friend and her grandson. I remember the first gift I made for H on his 2nd birthday, just after I had moved to Florida. He loves trains, he's all about trains, so I found a wooden train at Michaels and I BEgan working on it. And working on it. And working... I was just putting down the tiniest of roots in the soil of Currie as Artist, and I had an idea in my head [or mayBE it was in my heart?!] but it took a LOT to get that train finished and done. And longer still to get together to gift it.
After my son's wedding, I'd taken a gazillion photographs of the 6 days around which it was built, since he lives on Nantucket... They had a fancy shmancy real photographer, and probably a dozen of those disposable cameras, but my photos told a story. I thought...
It wasn't in the cards for me to gift them BEyond BEing there, but later in the year I had a thought to make one of my calendars that I seem to make annually as gifts for Christmas... of the wedding and my view of the story. I didn't realise that I was getting cheesy paper but I could buy one and get 4 free, so I did up a bunch and sent them to all the extended family members I had met over the time. It was a little scary, I don't mind telling you, but wow what a hit!!! It made me feel Worlds better and it managed to bring the memories back in a useful and original way.
This question has been good for me today. I am futzing with a frame that I want to give my mum for her 84th birthday that falls on 9.11. I've been at it with this for months, setting it aside, but Now it's getting time... MayBE if I remember WHY I want to gift it to her I won't BE so hard on myself making it...
Sorry to go on so, but thanks if you did make it through all the way!! xoxo

{Tammy}: Currie, I read the entire comment, love it, smiled! I think your mom will adore whatever you make her, so go easy on yourself!

08.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurrie

OOh this is lush! I'm doing a commission for a friend right now. It is hard. You really hope they like what you've put your heart and soul into.

I do adore this - especially the lovely turquoise.

08.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Wright

What's not to love? All those vibrant colours are wonderful.

I love making something with a particular person in mind - so many happy thoughts about our relationship go through my head as I work on it. It is a bit nerve-wracking just before they open it though!

tammy, most of my beginning art was made specifically for gifts. i do try to adapt , to what the person i am giving it to will like. there have been times when i was really worried about it too. it can be a lot of pressure. i have most difficult time creating art for an assignment that will be graded on. it takes the joy out of creating whatever kind of art i want.

08.24.2012 | Unregistered Commenterteddi

This is absolutely my favorite piece of artwork that you have done. I wish I was the one receiving that gift. :)

I used to give my artwork and crafts as gifts to those I really care about. Usually it is a piece I am creating specifically for them. It's harder because I feel more pressure that it's got to be "just right," but I feel I good when I am done. Unfortunately I always get the feeling that the people I give them to don't really like or appreciate it - so giving them as gifts is a rare thing now.

08.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterVerna

Oh there are just so many things I can relate to in this post. The challenge of working abstractly and feeling compelled to put a "thing" on it, even though it's not what I do. How to keep it from either looking like a hot mess or a "too perfect" piece of patterned paper. I've only done one painting from start to finish with a person in mind. my sister had commented on my blog that a certain piece was her favorite thing I'd ever done. and since it was just done on a warped piece of cardboard, I decided to do something similar on canvas. and it turned into a triptych, and I gave it to her for Christmas and I was a nervous wreck. and she claims to love it and it hangs in her home, but sometimes I think maybe she only hangs it up when I come over (and since I live 8 hours away I can't just drop in). but that's just me being paranoid. on the other hand, I'd made this little bit of a thing in a class and my oldest friend left a comment that "it would look really good on my living room wall and my birthday is coming up, hint, hint" handed it to her without a qualm since I didn't set out to make it for her. I just made it for me. but all this rambling aside, I adore your painting and think it would look fabulous on any wall.

08.24.2012 | Unregistered Commenteriamrushmore

I think it can be tricky making things for others, though I have. But I felt huge expectations to make it good, and I stressed out about it. Though I had a couple of finished pieces that people expressed an interest in, so I felt much better about giving it as a gift. I knew they were wanted. So I would go with the latter. But also I guess it depends on who the gift is for and how well I know them. I will be making a canvas for a friend for her wedding later this year and I think I have a good enough sense of her to make it a piece of art she will really like.

This piece is stunning. I love the colours and movement in it. I am sure she would have loved it.

08.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

I see a little girls face atop a purple dress in the center of your third pic down - very cool! I have to say I prefer making things I love and then trying to decide who would be the best fit for them after - it takes the pressure off! Occasionally though, I have just the perfect idea in mind for someone and I find myself being ultra neurotic about making it perfectly , which is ok, too...

08.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

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