The Commissioner

Because I love making things and doing things for my loved ones, I recently helped out my brother-in-law with his 1 year Anniversary present for his beautiful bride, my older sister. They are staying with the traditional Anniversary gift, which I love, with the 1st being the Paper Anniversary. My brother -in-law asked if I could help him with that by doing a painting. So we worked together to come up with an idea to find a creative way to incorporate paper into his gift. We settled on a three panel piece of art work that was collaged with book pages and painted over. He wanted a meaningful verse or quote and decided on an excerpt from Song of Solomon 3:4, “I have found the one whom my soul loves.” This verse was on the program from their beautiful September wedding. I was more than happy and very excited to help create his vision.

I used 3 – 16 x 12 canvases and covered them with book pages from an old book I bought from a thrift store for my own wedding. I glued the book pages down with Mod Podge, but did not cover the outside of the pages with it yet. I’m not sure what would have happened if I did, (I’m sure it probably would have worked fine) but I wanted to wait to Mod Podge the whole thing until I was completely finished.


I love doing mix media kind of projects like this; however, painting on top of a collage can be tricky sometimes. You have to make sure you have your mind made up of what you want on it before it goes down. Since I wasn’t painting directly on canvas, but book pages, I couldn’t just paint over it if I messed up. I supposed I could have re-covered the canvas with the pages, but then you run the risk of it showing through. So I was very careful. I sketched out my plan several times to get the image divided up exactly how I thought it would flow the best. Along with the verse, we decided that a tree branch would be a nice addition to the design that would go with the theme and help make the words flow a little better. After I had my sketch perfected, I penciled in the design on the book pages. I painted the design on with India Ink. Black paint would have worked just fine, but I thought that the ink might flow a little better, making it easier and more fluid to paint in the letters. I was very happy with the results.


I don’t have the best penmanship, so it is kind of a mix between print and cursive, but I am happy with the result. It’s also probably not typographically correct, but I feel like that makes it more whimsical and rustic, which was the idea! I made sure to cover the edged with the book pages and I also carried my tree branch around the edges as well for fluidity. Once the ink was completely dry, (which took no time at all, but I waited a few hours just because I’m paranoid and didn’t want it to run or smear) I sealed the canvases with Matte Mod Podge. I didn’t want it to be really glossy, and I’ve come to like the matte finish for most everything that I Mod Podge anyways, so that’s what I used. Which just gave it an overall clean and finished look.

I love how it turns out and I believe my customers were happy as well. I told my brother-in-law that doing commissioned work can be really nerve racking. As the artist, I want to make sure that what I am creating matched the customers vision. In this case, thank goodness it did! It may be even more pressure when it’s for a family member or close friend, because it could make for a really awkward situation if they don’t like it!




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