Sowing Seeds

Artists apply for lots of shows, competitions and projects, and I have come to think of this as sowing seeds. Some sprout and come to fruition in wonderful ways we never imagined, and this is the story of one of those instances!

Back in early 2017 I submitted a proposal for a VERY large scale set of paintings for the two-story foyer of a new hospital being built in Jacksonville FL. In 2015 I had provided a large diptych for another branch of this same hospital through an art consultant, so when I saw this listing I was very interested and my wheels started turning. After much development and refining I submitted my proposal, and I was eventually notified that though mine hadn't been selected, I and other artists were being placed on a list to provide artwork for other public areas of the new hospital.

(In the meantime, I went ahead and painted my proposal idea but on a much smaller scale, and that has become a successful series that even led to another recent corporate commission. It has been fun to get to develop my idea anyway and has yielded seven paintings so far…pictured above)

Tick. Tock. Many months pass. Six months later I got an email stating they were still intending on using my art in the hospital. And then another six months passed and I contacted them, but did not get a response. At this point, we were so near the projected completion date that I reasoned they had hired a decorator and gone in another direction.

So I'm working away in my studio as usual and a day comes in late May of this year when I receive one of those emails artists dream about getting. Here is an excerpt:

“....Unbeknownst to you, we have been admiring your artwork from afar for some time now. :) Your paintings are beautiful, bright and evoke such light and energy.  I am drawn to your work and know that our collectors/market would be as well.

I am working on a large healthcare project in Jacksonville, FL and you have been on our "roster" of artist for 18 months. I would love to connect on available artwork for both possible inclusion in this project as well as the opportunity to show your work in our gallery.....”

How exciting! It was from the owner of a gallery I was very familiar with in the Jacksonville area, and it dawned on me that they must have gotten tapped to coordinate gathering the artwork for this new cancer center. There was a very limited amount of time left before the big installation and ribbon cutting, but the gallery was easy to work with and we quickly agreed on four large commissioned paintings and several smaller ones to be used in a waiting room and other public areas. Below are photos of the paintings in situ, courtesy of the gallery, which better shows their scale. Two of them are 36x48 and two are 36x36, and getting this project was a big part of making 2018 by far my best year ever for sales and productivity. It is exciting to have big projects from time to time to supplement my regular work of supplying art galleries and I look forward to applying for more.

Sow those never know what it could lead to.

Chapter Two: You Never Know Who's Looking at Your Website

One day I received an email from an agent for a regional corporate art consulting firm. They were interested in my providing a price quote for a large version of the diptych I had painted, "Leaves of Grass." The consulting firm had a large hospital expansion project in Jacksonville, FL and was interested in two 48x60s. I gave them my price plus the cost of shipping/delivering. Not long after, I got the contract! There was a bit of a rush to get the paperwork going so I could be paid a deposit and get started.  At the time, I was in a gallery in Jacksonville and wanted to combine a gallery delivery trip with hand delivering the finished project paintings to the art consultants, who were going to be in Jacksonville installing some of the artwork in a few months. But the agent was in California, I was in Georgia and the art consultants were in Tennessee, which was no problem except for having to buy and install the right software so I could e-sign the contract, etc. That took time, and then I had to figure out how to use the software and sign my name, initial pages, etc.  Did I mention I was in a hurry?  Oh dear....

me with original Leaves of Grass diptych

me with original Leaves of Grass diptych

Chapter Three: A Big Giant Mistake


I got the contract emailed, the art consultants paid me to get started, and I began happily painting away. No, it's never that simple, is it? My car at the time could only accommodate ONE 48x60 canvas at a time, so my husband, who has an extra large truck bed, had to drive me to the art supply store to buy the two canvasses. I really enjoyed the initial stage of painting. As you can see in the photo below, my favorite method to work involves toning the canvas and then wiping away the light areas with rags. This places all the shapes, establishes the value range and light source and creates interesting, exciting little marks and suggestions of foliage. After this initial stage, it's as if everything is in there and I just have to pull it out.

After many hours, starting with the background and working forward into the hundreds or thousands of blades of grass, it was check in time. Per our contract, I was to send a photo of the project at the halfway point. Imagine my absolute horror when I received the following email from the art consultant: "Rani, it looks beautiful, but you do realize it's supposed to be horizontal?" What? Let me read that again! And slowly it dawned on me: I had just assumed that, since they had based this commission on my vertically-oriented diptych, this would just be a larger version of it. I had not read the fine print in the contract due to being in such a hurry to get it signed and returned, and it clearly stated two horizontal 48x60s.  

project in progress. Notice the VERTICAL orientation!

project in progress. Notice the VERTICAL orientation!

Well with no time to waste, I grieved for about a minute and then moved my Big Giant Mistake Diptych to an unused bedroom with the other unsold 48x60s (yes, there are others!). Had to go buy two new canvasses.  But wait! My local store only has two, and one of them is damaged! Had to hunt some down online...I live in a rural area and had I not been able to find two that large, I would have had to get them in Atlanta with another day used up. My sweet husband and his big truck drove me down to a store in Albany Georgia which had what I needed. I painted my hands off: it was difficult having to paint individual blades of grass several feet tall on such a large painting. I painted the edge of a metal yardstick and pressed it onto the painting to make the stems of the weeds straight...and there was twice as much grass to paint now because of the horizontal orientation. But I finished in time! We drove down to the new, vast hospital complex and met up with the art consultants who were on their last day of hanging the artwork. Though a diptych, the two paintings were going to be hung in their own niches separated by a section of wall. It was very gratifying to be present while they were hung and the art glowed coming down the hallway. It was a successful project, not my first, but my largest, and I'm looking forward to more. I have proposals in place with the same hospital's new cancer center and with the same consulting firm for a hospital elsewhere in Florida. We shall see.

But what happened to the Mistake Diptych?  "Leaves of Grass III" is consigned at Stellers Gallery in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and I've got my fingers crossed that they will find it the perfect home!

The moral of this story:  Always read the fine print.

installation view, "Leaves of Grass II" at Baptist South Medical Center, Jacksonville, Florida

installation view, "Leaves of Grass II" at Baptist South Medical Center, Jacksonville, Florida