Ron was a man who valued craftsmanship.
I could tell that about him within minutes on the phone. We were talking about the original oil painting Creek Bottom Counterparts. He had emailed about the piece the day before, asking if it was still available and how to arrange for payment. I'd called him to talk over some details.
He was a good-natured guy, and I enjoyed our brief chat. He said he loved the piece because it reminded him of the area surrounding their home west of St. Louis, MO. He talked about the deer that he saw from his back window and the wilderness that lie behind his house. He liked the painting and he wanted to buy it.
When you sell a high-end product that's as subjective and unique as original art, you run across a broad spectrum of personalities. I've found the best clients to work with are almost always self-made individuals. Smart, hard working, patient and successful (the first three are the reason they're successful, by the way). Above all, they value good work and are willing to pay for it.
Ron was one of these people.
He told me briefly where he lived in Missouri, and seeing that Kim and I were headed that way for Christmas just weeks later, I offered to deliver the piece in person. I wanted to meet Ron, see his home and thank him for being so great to work with. So on our route to Big Cedar Lodge, Kim and I drove four hours out of the way and stayed an extra night in a hotel outside of STL so that we could deliver the piece the following morning before continuing our trip.
What we found upon delivery was incredible. We drove several miles through unbelievable whitetail habitat, and I couldn't help but rubberneck as I drove, looking for the gleam off an antler in the morning sun. As we arrived at their home, Ron welcomed us in and gave us a tour. It was magnificent. I've never seen such incredible detail in a home. There was custom trim and woodworking from floor to ceiling. It wasn't flashy, but was large, open, warm and solid, like Ron's personality. Sheila, his wife of 43 years wasn't home, but he told us about his family and their recent daughter's wedding out west. He talked of his passion for architecture, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright. We toured his library, where my painting was to hang on the mantle. I could tell a lot about the man by skimming over his vast collection of books, some of which I owned and read myself. It occurred to me that this man and his wife built an incredible life, a happy family, and successful careers, and now they've built an impeccable home. I was humbled to be a part of it, and honored that they'd chosen me for their wildlife art.
We took a pic together, promised to stay in touch, and he even gave us a Christmas gift as we left. I thought I was dreaming. We did stay in touch, and later that spring he purchased Bound and Determined to add to his collection. I was happy to send it to him.
Just recently, St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles Magazine featured their home in the August issue. Click here to read their story, titled "In Harmony with Nature." It does way more justice to the home than I ever could. Reading it brought back memories of selling this piece. It reminded me that I'm called to create, to take pride in my work and to deliver quality that equals that of the home it hangs in and the homeowners that enjoy it.