(Com)Mission Accomplished

This week I am feeling a satisfactory sense of accomplishment having completed, delivered, and installed a commission that has been in the works since July. I am now enjoying the luxury of being able to reflect on the process.

Drifting Solace, 24" x 46" ©2015 Elizabeth Fram

Drifting Solace, 24″ x 46″    ©2015 Elizabeth Fram

It has been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to weave this endeavor in with everything else that the past 6 months has encompassed, but the stretch was worth it.

Drifting Solace, Detail ©2015 Elizabeth Fram

Drifting Solace, detail     ©2015 Elizabeth Fram

First and foremost, I count myself tremendously lucky to have been able to work with a delightful and interesting client. My long-ago days in free-lance advertising and illustration taught me that is not always the case — to such an extent that I have since shied away from commissions. But when approached this time, I was so interested in trying to capture what she was looking for, that it seemed the time had come to step up to see where things might lead.

Watercolor Sketch

Watercolor Sketch   ©2014 Elizabeth Fram

It has been a wonderful learning experience that has kept my feet humbly on the ground while also providing a fertile environment for growth. The following list includes several take-aways that come to mind immediately; I’m sure more will surface with time.

1. The importance of listening attentively, always with an ear for clues in client feedback for ways that the piece she is ultimately hoping for can dovetail with my working methods and means of bringing an idea to life. The optimal goal being that we both enjoy the process, as well as the end result.

Fabric Palette

Fabric Palette

2. Learning to plan ahead and to log my time. (And coming to the realization that every- thing always seems to take half again as long as I had originally thought).

Daily Work Log

Daily Work Log

3. The importance of “deep work” (as Cal Newport defines it) in making concrete strides.

Initial Fabric Placement

Initial Fabric Placement

4. How to organize my days so that I can move forward steadily while honoring other commitments that were already in place and certainly weren’t going to disappear.

 

Strip pieces

Organizing pieces for vertical strips

5. Appreciation for the boundaries that someone else’s vision puts in place – and in turn, the freedom that comes from that narrowing of overall approach. Structure can be a good thing.

Strips with piping

Strips with piping inserted

6. To be fearless in experimentation.

Left Side

Left Side

KGJoining sides.6

Right side dyed and painted; two sides brought together for first time

Embroidery in progress

Embroidery in progress

Embroidery detail

Embroidery detail

I have gotten a lot out of this experience and the many ways it has helped me to stretch, bolstered by the freedom that my client allowed me along the way. But ultimately, two things stand out as highlights in the culmination of the project. The first was seeing her face, absorbed in her own thoughts as she looked at the finished piece on her wall, finally there ‘in the flesh’ after months of patiently waiting.

In Situ

In Situ

And the second being the feeling, as I walked away from her apartment, that I had played my part in connecting ideas that hold significance for her with a tangible expression of those important thoughts and memories. As mentioned in quoting Salman Rushie in last week’s post, it felt like the universe had opened just a bit more.

4 thoughts on “(Com)Mission Accomplished

  1. MJ Russell

    Betsy, I love the finished result, but also seeing the process … from the watercolor sketch, to the fabrics being auditioned … even the daily work log (and the date stamp!) (Sorry, that last was my left brain surfacing …) What a great experience, and I look forward to hearing more of your reflections as other thoughts surface. MJ

    Reply
    1. ehwfram Post author

      You caught me – I definitely straddle the right / left brain divide! Thanks for reading – and for commenting. I agree, it helps bring a work to life if you can begin to understand the process behind it.

      Reply
  2. Adrianna

    What a beautiful window into your work. To see it in process highlights for me how wonderfully you approach your work…with organization, passion, collaboration, commitment and beauty. The process to me is as important (if not sometimes more than) as the finished piece itself. Seeing the “whole” of the piece and being let into the intimate space of your creativity is a privilege and an inspiration. Another one to celebrate!

    Reply
    1. ehwfram Post author

      Thanks Adrianna! I am always so interested in learning about the process behind others’ work. It provides another layer of insight than is provided by just seeing the finished piece, don’t you think? Also, it often gives me a sense of connection I might not have realized otherwise.

      Reply

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