I am a painter. I am very comfortable with the media I chose to work in, which has been acrylic painting over the last decade or so. That does not mean I do not know how to paint with oils, watercolors etc. merely that I have settled down to a medium that makes me happy.
I’ve painted a great many different things over the years: Animals, portraits, landscapes, floral paintings, but over time my thoughts have become more and more abstract. These days my fingerprint involves birds, binary & Fibonacci spirals. I can still paint a landscape or pet portrait, but that subject matter no longer represents my artistic fingerprint. However, any one of these genres sells better than my current body of work does, at least in Phoenix AZ.
Nevertheless, times are tough and I can still paint a decent landscape, critter picture, still life or what have you and I can be proud of the result. What can I say? I love painting. Some purists would say I am selling out by taking commissions, that I am compromising my vision. To those people I say, that the moment I expect someone else to buy what I have created, the conversation has started. The work is no longer just about me, it’s also about my audience, what they think and want. As for me, I am happy someone is embracing my vision, having the conversation, and interested in something that is original, not just a print or trinket.
I have no problem taking on commissions as long as the person desiring the commission can give me a clear idea of what they want, and if the commission is something I feel comfortable doing. One thing I am never comfortable doing is copying someone elses work; it comes up more often than you might think.
I listen to what the client says they want, get a non-refundable deposit up front, and then do a small-scale rendering. The non-refundable deposit is a great filter for weeding out people who really are not serious about what they want. Doing a draft sketch takes time & buying supplies cost money; I see no reason to bear the burden of costs when I am doing a commission. I am also not bashful about my prices. I am wary of client who makes major changes from prior discussions; my response is something like, “sure I can do that, but you realize that is an entirely different painting, not this painting.” If we can’t agree, I end the commission, because I recognize a person who can’t articulate to me what they want is never going to be happy with the result.
My most recent project was a commission of a slightly different kind. The patron loves his garden. Earlier in the year, I blew him away with some garden markers.
Now some might have balked at a nothing commission like this, and quite frankly if I was a lot busier I probably would not have done it, but I wasn’t, so I took on this wee little project that only took me a few hours to do. Besides, it was fun. I did such a good job that it lead to another commission, The McWhorterville Water Tower Project. Lesson one, if you take on a project, any project, do a good job-you never know where it might lead.
As I said, this guy loves his garden; he is installing a cistern, but the tank was a boring black fiberglass thing. Given the AZ sun, the first requirement was to paint it in light colors. Secondly, he wanted it to look like a water tower. It was a bigger project, so yes I did a conceptual sketch, so he could decide if he liked my idea or not. I did advise him it would be more painterly than the sketch I produced.
Once I had approval, including spelling of that name, I had to deal with the fact that acrylic paint might work OK on this fiberglass tank, but enamel was probably a better choice. That is where having a range of skills, even dusty ones, comes into play. I already knew that I could go oil-based paint on water-based paint but not the other way around. I already knew I needed to scuff up and prime the tank before I could start painting. I also had to dust off my long dormant rattle can skills to accomplish this project. Therefore, after three days the client saw this…
…and was very happy. Now we are talking about farm-like murals on his 50-foot long fence. I see me painting chickens in my future; I can sink my artistic teeth into that. :o)
Artist, AKAJake.com Come Experience the Art!
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