Peace and Peonies

Last week I finished and sent off a commissioned painting of three stages of a blooming peony to a man getting married in Florida. Over the past year we've been in contact over a peony painting for his girlfriend who became his fiancee and now his wife. Three stages - much like the painting itself. Originally he wanted this painting last year, but I ended up selling it, then he wanted one at Christmas time for her, but I was moving to St. Louis when he needed it. This past weekend he presented it to her as a wedding gift. What perfect timing for Julie and Gary. My friend who attended their wedding e-mailed me this morning and told that Julie loved it and cried when he gave it to her. I've not met the couple, but after learning she had an affinity toward peonies and he knew about it and sought them because they made her happy, I was thrilled and honored to be asked to paint for them. Besides, I "get" the woman who is drawn to one particular flower - look at me with geraniums.
I have to admit I found it a bit difficult to start this painting. I love painting. I love peonies. I had a deadline! What was my problem? Painting commissioned work is so different mentally than doing my own thing. When I'm working on a painting for a specific person, I think a great deal about that person and what this work means to them. Before I even put brush to paper, the work has meaning which makes me both happy and overwhelmed. Here I was sitting at my painting station, trying to get through another grey, rainy St. Louis day and I'm in turmoil because I'm both happy for the couple but also struggling with my own "singleness." I'm painting a gift of love with Gary's hearfelt words writtten under each stage of the peony -
Journey... Awaken ... Love
and I feel intensely how far I am from this love. For the next couple hours I have to enter into this personal place of fear about my own desires while I paint. What a delicious smell a peony has. How it opens so quickly with all its fluffy layers and in all the best shades of pink. Much like love! Yet, inside I wonder if I'll ever experience this blooming. So you see, painting is not always technical. Sure practice is part of creating a skill. I work at it every day. But there are strong moments when the spirit/the heart/the soul moves you to work in ways you don't think you can. When I finally finished, I have to say, I didn't want to let the painting go.