Honestly, I used to freak out about it. I would agree to do it and then become overwhelmed with fear that it wouldn’t be good enough.
As a result of all that fretting, the painting would take me a bazillion hours to complete- most of them, not joy-filled. I wasn’t honoring myself or my customers. For a long while now I have been trying to figure this out. Do I take custom orders or not? I imagined declaring, I do not make custom orders, but thank you.
But then, a few years, something lovely happened. I completed a custom order painting that cracked my heart right open. And in that space, clarity emerged.
My intention with art is to spread love, to connect with others, to be an open channel for light to flow through me and out into the world. Here is what happened:
I got a call from a woman asking me if I would be able to design a card for her.
The previous weekend was her husband’s funeral. She wanted to send a hand written thank you card to the people dearest to both of them. After hearing this, I wanted to make her the most beautiful card, one that would have meaning and might lift her up in some small way.
She told me a few of the things he used to say all the time like, “Love is the way. I walk in gratitude,” and “Teach only love.” He sounded like a man who lived with an open heart.
I thought about my mother and how hard it was for her when my dad died. I have a vision of her at the funeral with people on either side of her, each holding an arm, holding her up. I remember thinking that when the one you love dies, it is too hard to even stand up. I was 15-years old.
As I was listening to this lovely woman telling me about her husband, I felt such deep compassion for her. I believe this is the gift of pain and heartache. It makes us more compassionate, more understanding and able to connect deeply with others. I’ve never lost a husband to death, but I have grieved the death of my father and my first husband who left our marriage. Loss is hard. I remember hearing Byron Katie say that grief is love. We think we are grieving, but really we are feeling deep love for the person who died. That makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
I believe her husband was right. Love is the way.
I realized that sometimes custom orders are the most perfect way to do the work I love to do. I can clear my studio space and light a candle. I can make a painting for someone by just letting the art flow through me and onto the canvas without all the fear and resistance. I can trust that whatever emerges will be filled with love.
Lori is a full-time artist, doing what she loves, in hopes of spreading a little happiness around. She believes in loving kindness and authenticity. She is mostly sweet and compassionate and learning to say “no” when “yes” does not feel right and accept (and even embrace) the non-optimistic, angry, spitfire part of herself. She travels as much as possible and loves animals with all her heart.
Find out more about Lori and her ‘100 Thank Yous’ Project here: http://loriportka.com/
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