Working on Commission
Painting commissions has its pros and cons. On the positive side, receiving a commission is a supreme compliment. That a client appreciates and values my work enough to ask (and pay) for a rendering of a specific image is an affirmation of my artistic ability. I am also fairly certain of being paid for my efforts. On the downside, however, I am painting for someone else, not myself. My standards are fairly high, but when I am painting for another person, I want my work has to be amazing, worth what I am earning. And that’s when I am really challenged.
For the most part, I have been successful doing commissions. I started decades ago making watercolor “portraits” of the homes of friends. These were tightly rendered pieces that took months to complete. I moved on to portraits of my relatives’ children, then to pets. Over the years I started using different media and my style became looser. There have been some disappointments (The dog looks great, but my children don’t look like that!) but I have gotten over that, realizing that every piece is part of my development. Some clients have purchased the work, even though it did not meet their expectations, only to decide years later that the painting actually does look like the sitter. Sound familiar?
A friend asked me to make a watercolor of her family’s barn before it was no longer standing. We went and took photographs one stunningly brilliant October morning in 2014. After months I finally sketched it, then decided I had better get busy before a year passed and the barn really did fall down. It was challenging but fun, and I was able to try a different approach, since I am sure she will love the painting. I hope.