Facing my fears, or at least some discomforts.
I have a good friend that has been collecting my work for a few years now. Usually the purchases happen like this…
I take part in a show, she loves a piece, then someone else loves the same piece, then there is some sort of art buying war. She has won all of them. This time, she commissioned the pieces, so there was not battle…for her anyway.
See, what she wanted was a gift for her son’s birthday. Not just any gift, but a double portrait set of Will Ferrell and John C Reilly from Step Brothers. Now that doesn’t seem like it would entail any sort of battle, but that’s because no one else has my brain. The battle in my brain started immediately when I read the movie title in her request. My heart sank a bit and I started to panic. The problem, Will Ferrell. I have a “thing” with certain faces, they just make me uncomfortable. Will Ferrell has always made me uncomfortable, with the semi-exception of Elf. So, when I knew I’d be staring at his face for an extended period of time, I panicked. Another anxiety trigger, how was I going to reference a movie chock-full of raunchy humor in a way that was classy? These pieces would be hanging in a teenager’s room, I had to be smart about my approach.
I chose to tackle the set by leaving him for the very end of the process. For the border surrounding each portrait, I referenced specific lines/scenes in the movie. Most were pulled from the lyrics to “Boats ‘n Hoes”. The Great Whites on the Dale Doback piece are a shark week nod, while I noting the brothers’ favorite dinosaur with the two Velociraptors on the Brennan Huff piece. Since hoes didn’t seem to be suitable images to include, I used the boat half of the equation with the nautical flags, ropes, anchor and wheel.
In the end, these pieces were tons of fun. Although, there was a brief period in the end that I thought I couldn’t complete them. That whole idea of saving Will Ferrell for the end almost backfired on me. No amount of Bruce Springsteen hits could relax me. After a short break and a few tears, I was able to finish. The best part is that my friend not only got two pieces she loved, but also a good laugh at my expense. I have to admit, looking back on it, the situation was pretty hysterical. So, the next time someone approaches me with a Will Ferrell commission, I’m on it. We’ve kind of bonded over this project.