This month, I’ll begin taking commissions for “HOUSE & HOME” portraits. These commissions look a lot like A YEAR IN THE CITY illustrations, but they are completely customized to capture a perfect day-in-the-life of clients’ homes.
Let’s face it. Every home has a story. Or a million stories. They’re those little threads that tie us to a place until that place becomes an essential part of our identity.
When my husband and I returned to Missouri from the east coast in the 1990s, we bought a little ranch house on a quiet street. Our yard was fenced, and our neighbors were friendly. We were finally going to be able to give our kids the longer leashes we’d had when we were young. Right away, our daughter “adopted” a turtle from a country road and tried to domesticate it – unsuccessfully. Our son, who was three at the time, learned to climb out of his bedroom window during naptime and toddle up the front steps to ring the doorbell. These were among the many memories that made that house a home. Unfortunately, we weren’t poised with the camera to capture them as they were happening.
A YEAR IN THE CITY illustrations have given me a way to put people in important places, both literally and figuratively. In my Citygarden print, for example, a woman sits among the sculptures reading. She’s at peace in this environment, and yet, she’s completely pulled away from her surroundings by her book. In the City Museum illustration, two “tweens” are approaching the stairs, driven as much by their friendship as the adventure that awaits them. At Powell Hall, two sisters wind their way up the stairs, the older one envisioning her future as a performer, the younger one feeling like a princess.
What I absolutely love about these “characters” is that they’re not posing, they’re not on. They’re just being themselves, oblivious to the camera. But their environments just happen to be these amazing St. Louis landmarks, and the subjects are inviting viewers in.
That’s exactly what I hope to create for my clients with HOUSE & HOME portraits, because to all of us, there is no landmark quite as special as home. In a single picture, clients can bring the most important elements of home together in one place during any time of the year. They can feature family members and friends as they look today or as they looked years ago. They can have their yards and gardens depicted as they want to remember them. It’s their call. It’s their HOUSE & HOME.
People sometimes ask me why my characters don’t have faces, a particularly valid question when you’re talking about customized portraits. The reason is that facial expressions can sometimes limit the story being told, because they dictate the emotions of each person in the picture. A HOUSE & HOME doesn’t rely on smiling mug shots, but on gestures and poses, to identify subjects and suggest a whole range of emotions. In fact, it is not unusual for subjects to be facing away from the camera, particularly if they are interacting with others. As HOUSE & HOME portraits get passed down to grown children, they will be able to tell the story from their point of view.
HOW LONG, HOW MUCH, HOW MANY? A FEW HOUSE & HOME FAQs:
• How long? HOUSE & HOME portraits take between four and five weeks, start to finish.
• How much? Portraits start at $500 for a single 16 x 20 framed print, half of which is collected when the first proof is reviewed.
• How many? Unlimited additional prints may be ordered at cost.
• How nice! Portraits are printed on heavy archival-quality rag paper.
• How soon can you get on the schedule? Only one commissioned portrait is accepted per month, so your job may be scheduled months in advance.
• How to get started? First, check out A HOUSE & HOME portraits at ayearinthecity.com/commissions. Then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back with you within a day to get you on the schedule and set up an appointment.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on a certain calendar, and – if time allows – a portrait of a little girl cradling her ailing turtle, a three-year-old escape artist climbing out of his window, and a house that became a home to me.
A YEAR IN THE CITY calendars, notecards, and prints are available at ayearinthecity.com/shop and in several St. Louis shops, including Union Studio, ArtMart, and The Missouri History Museum Gift Shop. The new 2020 calendar will be available in June.