There's an absolutely lovely couple I've known all my life who really like the watercolors I've been doing lately. They have always been supportive of my work and bought pastels from my very first gallery show back in 1999, but the recent assignments were extra special. They are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend, and months ago, they both happened to call me on the same day to order paintings for each other as presents. That's when you know you've been married a beautifully long time.
They both wanted their house (above) plus something else. I was asking when the wife might be gone so I could paint the house as a surprise, and the husband said, that's OK -- we'll tell her about the house, and then she won't be suspecting the other ones. Almost identically, when he told her about the house, she said that if he knew about that one, he wouldn't be expecting a second painting.
He asked for the church they married in, Trinity Methodist (a lovely stroll around the corner with my folding chair -- the best kind of commission)....
...and their current church, St. Francis of Assisi.
She asked for the Shelby County Courthouse, where he's a judge. It was fun to sit on the sidewalk for this one and have lawyers stepping over my legs and taking a peek as I worked.
This set of commissions taxed my always deficient verbal filter, but I managed not to blurt anything out and ruin the surprises. The best part was going out this week to do their home, the last painting due, and seeing them give all the paintings to each other early because they couldn't bear to wait. It was just lovely to get to be part of such a wonderful celebration.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.