Memories of Peru
Memories of Peru
I enjoy helping clients get what they want. I also enjoy steering them in the right direction so that what they receive in the end is something special. One year ago, a client and I signed an art commission that included some specifics, and also left room for me to express a style of my own. That style combines figurative and abstract styles into a fusion that I have developed over time. I have my style. It wasn’t easy to form and it still has room for growth and improvement. Nevertheless, it’s my style and I like it because it allows me to work hard and have fun. Memories of Peru is a great example of this- as I’ll talk about in this article; an experience that ended in me traveling cross country with my family to deliver the product.
Before signing anything, we worked on selecting reference photos that were taken while the client was on vacation in Peru. I know the client through a family connection because my spouse is from Peru, and I lived there for more than five years so likewise, I have insight into the subject matter. Guiding the client to appropriate and meaningful choices actually wasn’t too difficult, and I guess I got lucky that they were already comfortable with my style and choice. After choosing the photos I did some quick digital drawings that imagined a color scheme but nothing set in stone. The commission that I wrote up had many of the details you would find in a typical art commission. I made sure to spell out how I would complete the works, two paintings, and ship them to the client within a specified time. Working to achieve a milestone date is never easy in project management so I included a clause that says I would receive less money if not completed on time; a benefit for me and the client. I need motivation and losing money is a good one but, hopefully not at the expense of quality.
When I started the commission, I had most of the materials which was good but, I had an almost full time management position which took much of my concentration. I liked the job because it was an art supply company except that the work was very stressful and I eventually got fired. Why? Let’s just say that I was having difficulty adjusting after transitioning from a large health care organization during COVID to a very small team where everyone likes to be by themselves in tandem with a very cliquey attitude where I was the only male in appearance. So when the call came that ‘it wasn’t going to work out’, I felt hurt but, I also felt relief because I knew that I already had work to do with the commission and I’d better get moving.
The transition to being at home full time was a little bumpy. I’ve been trying to make the transition to full time artist for a while now (29 years). When I was eighteen years old, my last year in high school, my parents separated, and despite the fact that I was an exceptional artist and had been accepted to Pasadena Art Center of Design that same year, I didn’t attend because in addition to moving out of the family house, my car got totaled in an accident and I was ultimately depressed with no emotional or financial support. Life sucked to put it plainly. Notwithstanding, I kept making art because art was therapy for me and I was most successful working in sketchbooks over the years. In July 2019, I even dumped a five year career in software- making the most money per hour I had ever- due to burnt out. I had dealt with family /life events while starting to work remotely and I came to the realization that I need to be around people directly. I started feeling down and depressed because I didn’t have that same feeling of connection via just phone calls and emails. I found one of my important limitations and also one of my greatest strengths. Working remotely wasn’t for me and caring for those who want my care is so meaningful and valuable it helps me shine. I’m emotional when people need help- it also leads to fatigue for me. The connection I make with my art is deep and personal. Sometimes it’s hard to make the connection to work because I’m not in the right mood. On a daily basis, I’m distracted, inattentive, lack focus and hyperactive. Sound like adult ADHD? I’ve navigated the symptoms all my life and learned meaningful coping skills, nevertheless, I inevitably change jobs and geography because of the buildup of feelings and emotions that I have difficulty managing; impatience and other strange symptoms. So when I was let go a year ago, I also became the homemaker which I’m not averse to and did my best to pick myself up by my bootstraps so to say.
This commission was already underway, but as the months dragged on into summer, I realized that I needed to start working like a normal job and put in serious hours, like Monday thru Friday so that I could get the work done. Since I never know exactly how long it will take because I don’t know exactly how it will look finished, I had to manage it in sections and layers as I worked toward a finished look. Once the composition and abstract work was initially done, the more figurative work came in towards the end. Figurative and realistic art is very rewarding to me when I have the motivation. When I’m not motivated it is very difficult to even start. Thankfully, my experience in project management allowed me to look at it in chunks and layers that I eventually got done.
The scariest part of all for me was how to package and ship the paintings (30” x 40”) to Michigan from Oregon. I was not excited about this at all. I’m sure I would have figured it out and they would have arrived fine. As the summer progressed though, I saw an opportunity to travel along with delivering the paintings in person. Thanks to the personal connection that I have with the client, it just so happens that the sister of the client, who is good friends with my spouse, was going to be visiting from Peru and she had mentioned it would be really great for them to see each other. I put two and two together and saw this amazing opportunity. Additionally, my spouse also has a Peruvian friend who lives in Virginia who has wanted us as a family to come and visit. Needless to say, it was very easy to convince her to get the time off so we could travel and deliver the paintings, see friends and new places. Moreover, I was thinking about my son and how cool it would be to go on a road trip to see the country. With a visit to Virginia, we could even go and see our nation’s capital. I had only seen it once flying over when leaving from Dulles airport. My wife and son had never visited. So, the plans went in motion and I was hard at work while much of Oregon was filled with fires and smoke which made it harder to stay productive inside the house; causing me to feel down emotionally. I couldn’t wait to escape the smoke.
The day arrived in August of last year; to jump in a packed van- luckily we have a Nissan Quest- and head off unto the sunrise. Funny enough, heading out into the sunrise also requires changing the hour and adjusting your plans for the time zone changes which I failed at. I have an expensive education in Geography and I failed my education. LOL. Thankfully, I have a lot of driving experience and I made sure to have all the major fluids changed on my car- including the Continuous Variable Transmission. We planned on eating in the car so I bought 12 volt DC heating devices for food that I prepared beforehand. I needed to drive anywhere from 700 to 1000 miles per day to achieve my daily goals. I did use my education to measure and map out realistic points to stop and start from day to day and that helped a lot!
When we arrived to Michigan and delivered the paintings the next day, it was a little anticlimactic because much of the attention was focused on old friends reuniting. I wasn’t upset or let down. I was so happy that my wife was able to see her friends. When we got to Virginia and could visit the National Mall in DC- it was spectacular. I’m a US Army veteran, and after the January 6th 2021 insurrection, I was able to spend the last few minutes of our visit in front of the Capitol building on a beautiful sunny afternoon with a few families relaxed on the front lawn. I felt reassured that everything I had worked hard for was worth it, and even after January 6th, we got to see the Capitol in a calm light surrounded by respectful people. It felt okay to be an American although I have been a big critic of Exceptionalism for a long time; it’s what made me leave in 2004 for Lima Peru due to an inordinate feeling of paranoia, anxiety and depression. I can see the good in the bad sometimes but in the moment it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Last summer I achieved so much. I really haven’t boasted or talked about it much. I just did it. I set goals and I achieved them; even in the face of adversity. I will continue to work hard at achieving my goals as always, and I welcome new opportunities to make beautiful art for those who want something unique.
P.S. – I easily lost 5 lbs on the trip. I was running on adrenaline I think. I did not over consume coffee. I tried to go on shear will and determination. As far as mental health and neurodiversity- I’m trying some homeopathic alternatives like Brillia and now L-Tyrosine which are actually helping a lot; less irritated, impulsive and calmer. I wish I had come upon these options in the past. Out with the old and in with the new- a new future.