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Guestbook Tree: Complete


In the last few posts I revealed how behind I was on my checklist. I told you, what probably is so true in your own life, that the checklist never gets smaller and at times it can be overwhelming. I resolved to get the closet tidied up, the kitchen pantry organized and paint, both the house and some paintings for a festival. After I did all that I was going to leave the house projects to the rainy days and enjoy myself.

Well, you ought to be very proud of me because I did just that. I’ve also peeled more wall paper, had revolving weekend house guests (every weekend either has a wedding or house guests from Memorial Day Weekend until the end of July) and managed to work too. It’s crazy. A good crazy. I’m so blessed to have people in my life that want to make the drive to visit us, and I’m so glad to host them.

I put off this post about the guestbook tree because I wanted the wedding to be over so I had some ‘finished’ photographs of the tree, and so the guests at the wedding would have all seen it already.

It all started at a wedding when Maria (the bride) asked if I would paint the tree for their guest book. I was pleased and shocked and very excited, since I’d never done commissions for anyone but family before. I sketched up some samples and she chose the look she wanted and I got to work. Based off their wedding invitation I knew they would like something a little vintage, old-fashioned and charming. The sketch came out surprisingly easy, but the painting became difficult. I got a base coat down easy enough but the letters (my handwriting is atrocious) and the detail in the paint job (I wanted it to look realistic but a bit whimsical, slightly like a classic children’s book illustration) gave me grief, and like all paintings I got nervous and upset with it right at that turning point where to finish it, it often looks worse before it gets better.

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The first coat is down on tree. Go ahead and laugh at my hand-drawn letters. I persevered though. I wanted a script lettering for their names, something romantic and swoopy without going to nuts, and for the date I wanted something with a serif, a permanent marker for the date. the flat pink in the date though bothered me so I painted it as if it was raised lettering, infinitely increasing the time involved, but making me much happier with the progress.

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From there I spent a long while, and countless episode of the Lizzie Bennett Diaries (YouTube it) polishing the tree, adding details, and tweaking the painting until I was satisfied.  Just in time for a nerve-wracking drop off at church the Sunday before they got married. I really wanted even the bare tree to be a happy looking tree. Before any thumbprint landed on it, I wanted it to still be a tree that was ready to celebrate. Here’s some shots of what it looked like at that point. photo 1 copy

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Thankfully the bride, her parents, and her sisters all said they loved it. Success! Now all I had to do was wait the five days until their wedding (which was so sweet and like every ceremony made me cry happy tears) and then we went to the reception in an old carousel house along the beach in Rhode Island. What a fun event! The bride and groom looked lovely and happy, and we were so pleased to celebrate with our friends, but I was even more pleased because I had been asked to paint their guest book tree, something that hopefully they will have for a long, long time. It was such a great feeling to know I had given them something which exceeded their expectations and melded so nicely with the feel of the wedding.

So I’ll leave you with a few ‘finished’ shots of the tree. I was so proud of it I could have popped. (Or maybe that was from the food, that salad was Ahhh-mazing!

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Seriously I could burst. I don’t think the ‘leaves’ could have turned out better if I’d done them myself. My good friend Abby (sister of the bride, one of the two maids of honor [two sisters]) made a point of telling a ton of people I painted it, which was slightly embarrassing yet still really exciting and I had people coming up to me all night telling my how much they liked it. And it was really fun to paint. So I’m officially telling the world that I’d be glad to paint you a guest book tree, or whatever idea you have for your wedding, housewarming, people who visit you and your new baby at the hospital, you name it. Just let me know if you are interested and we can go from there. If I’d thought about it before Maria asked me to do this I would have painted a caricature of our house and asked the friends that came to leave their mark on our new house. To bad, but I’m sure I’ll do one for myself for a different occasion.

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