It's very flattering when someone wants to commission a piece of art. Also somewhat intimidating--what if the customer doesn't like it? I make it clear in discussing a commission that I want any input the customer can offer, but that once I start, it's my production. Most people laugh and seem relieved when I say that--they don't want to design the thing. That's why they are talking to the artist, after all.
Usually, they have seen some of my work and have an idea of what kind of thing I make. If not, I invite them to visit this website or to come to my studio and look at work there. These visits are a real delight, giving me a chance to get to know the customer better and understand their concept. Sometimes I audition a few fabrics just to see what they like.
The grassy area is part of a cutwork cotton tablecloth, dyed with bois d'arc and indigo. The water is pleated, stitched polyester fabric from a blouse bought in a secondhand store; the reflections of the sunset sky are painted on. I had photographed a tree at the home of a friend, and was able to enlarge and then flip the image (so it leaned over the water) and use it as a model for cutting black felt backed with fusible; with added paint and stitching this made a convincing and dramatic tree. I painted the leaves, then stitched them, but found that the stitching made them look too concrete. Another coat of several green hues restored the look I wanted while retaining the texture of the stitching. The pebbled area in the lake is printed with a favorite biblical quotation. The piece is backed with commercial cotton, quilted through all layers, and bound.
So now it's done, awaiting pickup. I'm happy with the result. Let's hope it works as well for the customers.