Yesterday, after trying since August to get this project up and running with energy, enthusiasm, and genuine interest from my client, Jim, I was brushed off the second week in a row. Jim called the studio five minutes before he was to arrive to say that he had tripped over something on his way out the door and now his knee was hurting and he didn’t think he could make it. OK, does that sound like a legitimate excuse or one you would make up if you really didn’t want to be somewhere you promised to be? He didn’t show up a week ago either because he had a bad night with no sleep. That’s an excuse he’s used before and one I can certainly understand, being that he’s still going through physical therapy and does have residual pain.
Maybe I should have read the book “He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys” before I started this collaboration? Maybe I could have bypassed all the emotional ups and downs I’ve had in the past couple of weeks if I had realized from the start, I needed to understand this, in fact, may not be just a client/student relationship. Maybe this is a guy/gal relationship with all its vagaries?
Or maybe not.
Or maybe not.
The beginning of October was truly exciting for me as the project began to take shape. Jim came that first week with more images for us to use and seemed to be really taking great interest, after not showing up the week before due to physical problems. I commended him on how well he looked, using only his cane and not the crutches he had used the last time I saw him.
But since our meetings were not as regular as I had hoped they would be (we hadn’t met twice in a row yet), I was wondering if maybe he had just lost interest in being so involved in the project? Or even though he was four and a half years out from the accident, maybe all of this reliving his life –what he was, what he’s lost and what he’s gained - was becoming too psychologically painful for him? Maybe his sleepless nights before our meetings were more about this than his physical pain?
So I asked him point blank if he really wanted to continue working toward creating his own personal collages to be used in the piece. I assured him that I didn’t want him to feel pressured into doing this and that I felt confident enough to work with the images he’d collected to finish this on my own. He assured me this was a wonderful project for him and absolutely, he wanted to continue.
Taking that at face value, I decided to try and hook him even further by starting work on a compositional preliminary sketch of the ideas we had bantered about verbally. That was a wonderful day in the studio for me - getting out my prisma colors, acrylic paints and just having at it on a 6’ x 3’ piece of white butcher paper. It always gets my creative juices flowing to start drawing and especially drawing large.
When Jim arrived the next week and saw this sketch up on the wall he seemed not just pleased but even more enthused. We talked about my vision and how it would manifest into a finished piece. We looked again at the pictures and words he had collected, the ones I had put on the handmade paper I plan to use to, in order to imagine how we'll place them in this new composition.
And as he was leaving, I said to him, “OK, next week we’re going to start on your collage. I think we’ll only need a couple more sessions to get your part done.” He agreed, with a smile and a handshake. As he left, I was already looking forward to our meeting the next week.
I haven't seen him since.