Thursday, February 4, 2010


Today I finished a 25 by 25 inch commission for a customer who has admired my work for a while. We'd agreed on a certain size work, with certain elements about 2 years ago. I dragged my feet and didn't get the commission done right away and by the time I did, she was not in a position to purchase. By the time she got back to me, the piece was no longer what she wanted. And, so, I learned my lesson. Be expedient with commissions because over time, wishes and desires and situations can change. No biggy! The other piece will sell fast, once I actually get it in its special frame.

But, that does bring me to the whole idea of commissions. I do them. But I don't always like doing them. Don't get me wrong. If someone likes a certain piece but it won't fit where they would like to put it, I'm happy to create something else using similar elements and colors. But, when they want the sky from piece "A" and the road from piece "b" and the structures to be "more in the background", what happens is I become the draftsman of someone else's art. And, that is not the fun way to do it. What happens in these situations is the spontaneity of my creating art is gone. Poof! GONE. And that makes for static art. Generally, the commission is not exactly what the client expected. Sometimes it is as simple as liking the highlights on an adobe building in one piece but wanting it to be nighttime...If I've used different base paper/panel colors the oil pastels are going to "mix" differently and I won't be able to replicate the exact colors. So, now I tell people I'll do the commission but give them only a certain amount of input--like colors and/or limiting which structures go into the piece, along with size-- which seems to be the main reason people ask for something special. But, not creating a "build your own". Most people get this when I explain it to them. And many people don't even want to ask for a special piece--they want what I want to create. All depends.

So, when I actually do a commission, I do feel as if the client is sitting on my shoulder, watching the overall process. Sometimes this is good as I tend to work through puzzles that I might not otherwise attack. But, when I finish a commission, even before I've gotten the final okay, I feel as though a weight has been lifted from me. And this is a VERY. GOOD. FEELING.


  1. Ah yes, lesson learned. I like how you explain that you can't do the piece exactly as they want - or build your own. I haven't had that yet in commissioned pieces but now I know what to do if they ask for it. By the way, I really like the piece, beautiful textures and colors.

  2. Thanks, Elisa. BTW, I found your blog and I love your idea of Fridays being a naming day.. I have soo much trouble with titles--fine with when I only have a few to name but when I'm doing a lot at once--yuck!! PS I'm not sure the person who commissioned the lat piece would love all this info out there, but I just wanted to let people knwo how I felt about the commissions. In this case, she'd paid off most of it so it wasn't terrible but a challenge in that if she didn't eaccept it....I only want happy customers so I keep tring--but I like to keep the client informed of the situation so we can both be happy. Do you ever feel like they (the clients) are sitting on your shoulder or have I developed that complex all on my own?

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I've learned my lessons as well and now I am very particular about doing a commission.
    Nice piece BTW...

  4. Jennifer,
    that is stunning! While I have plenty of commission stories, I won't share them here, it's your blog! but wow, what a magnificent piece. I have a customer who would love it......


If you've got a comment or a question, let me know, I'd love to hear from you.