Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The joy and challenge of commissions

Demeter, a new stylistic direction I went for a commission.

 Working with patrons and creating commissions is a collaborative creative act. I find that it offers me challenges that increase my creativity and take me in exciting stylistic directions.

Commissions always come to me out of patrons seeing my other work and loving it. I start talking to them about the work and ask them if they have a favorite saint or mythical figure. If I haven't already painted that subject, I reveal that I would be more than happy to make one especially for them for an upcoming special occasion.
A more naturalistic icon of Mary Magdalene

The excitement of tailoring something specifically for a patron has pushed my style and skills to new heights. For my first commission I pushed myself to paint more naturalistic. For another commission I improved my skills painting loose hair. There is a part of the movie Goya's Ghost where Goya reveals his commission sliding fee scale, a thousand per hand shown in the portrait! My extras are wings and horses--especially horses. And of course, one of my patrons wanted: the four horseman of the apocalypse!

A patron gave me the opportunity to explore the theme of fallen angels.

After agreeing on subject, size and cost. I go to do some research and make some concept drawings. I return to the patron and show them the the drawings or color studies. If the client likes what I have planned, I might ask for a bit of money to pay for supplies (gold leaf is something I often run low on and a new book can be $50).  I usually feel very confident that if a patron falls through on paying me (which hasn't happened yet), that I could sell my paintings elsewhere so I don't demand payment upfront. It protects me in case I am unable to complete the project for any reason or it takes longer than planned.

In addition to providing commissions, this year I began taking care of framing for the patrons too. It is very satisfying to bring the piece and put it directly on the wall.

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