This was my work for the winter! Late last summer, I was lucky to get a wonderful commission. This painting is large—30” x 40”, gallery wrapped canvas. It was done in oil. I have varnished it and will be wrapping it up to mail over the weekend. I’m so excited for the owner to get it!
I have done many commissions over my artistic life—mostly landscapes, sometimes pets or people—I’ve even done people’s homes or other structures that mean something to the buyer. Commissions are an animal all by themselves, because you have to get inside the head of the buyer, to find out what they want or envision the painting to be. How I start is with a conversation with the individual. I show them some of my work. Sometimes they will see me painting on the road or in a park—painting in oils, and they may want a watercolor. So I send them samples of my watercolor work to make sure they want the style I have. If they do not have an actual photo or place in mind, I may send them a bunch of photos and ask them to pick out what they would like. Then, I make my painting—loosely off that photo.
The reason I say loosely, is because sometimes the photo does not give me enough information or not the colors that the buyer wants. That was the case in this example. The colors were rather drab in the photo, plus the buyer wanted more golds instead of oranges in the photo. So, I did a pencil sketch of what I envisioned, and emailed that to her for approval. She was easy to work with..as she loved it right away. If she wanted it different, we would have had another conversation for me to try and determine what she wanted.
I then worked on a color sketch for her to approve. It was a 6 x 8” panel. Because I didn’t see her room, I wanted to make sure I had the right colors of gold and maroon. I wanted the main focal point to be the large gold tree and she loved it. After I got her approval I started with the large painting.
Since this was a difficult winter for me, my work was slow. I had to get my mind on the painting—that was too difficult for me due to the loss of my mother. I did other art…smaller paintings during that time, just to be keeping myself in practice of oil painting..and to push through the fear of failure on this large painting. After the Spring came, I was able to start again, anew.
Commissions have challenges not like any other painting you may do, as you need to think with someone else’s brain. Don’t be afraid of doing them however. Painting something that someone else loves is a great joy. To see someone so excited about a painting that hasn’t been done yet—yes, It’s pressure, but also joy. Communicate at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to change things that you thought were ok. By learning about someone else’s vision, you may see something that you didn’t realize was there—and that’s wonderful!!!