Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fini!

What a slug I was over the weekend! I needed to shut down for a while, I think, after my parents' wonderful visit. Even yesterday I just wandered around in my studio, moving things around, not sure what to work on.

But today, I finally got back to some discipline about working. What fun! I finished these two pieces.


Under the Big Tree, 16 x 20, mixed media with acrylic


3 Flamingos, 24 x 30, mixed media w/acrylic

I also did some refinements on a commissioned work. On that subject, I've just about decided that I'm not going to accept any more commissions when I am done with this one. I don't think I am suited to them. My creativity freezes up. I don't read minds yet, and until I do, I will never know what it is someone is thinking when they ask me to paint something for them. Can they not see my work, see my style, use of color, etc? If they want a picture painted in another style, they will need to ask another artist to do it for them from now on. There, I said it!

Another artist, who does lots of commissioned work, said recently to me, "If you aren't willing for the buyer to go home with something they may not be completely happy with, you shouldn't be taking commissions." What do you all think? Any helpful advice or input here?

24 comments:

Dan Finnegan said...

I promised myself that I would stop taking commissions when I turned 50. I served others for more than 25 years, now it's all about my own muse. Much better idea!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Then, I'm right on time!

Saundra Lane Galloway said...

I hear you Elizabeth! I stopped doing commissions years ago. I started doing watercolor portraits of all things...and after years of parents asking me to change this or that and being surprised, despite my warnings that it wouldn't be their precious Johnny anymore that was enough. I lost my joy and I too was stiffled! I say good decision my dear! Your work is beautiful! Love these two new ones! You GO GIRL!

Kathleen Krucoff said...

Yay! Great finished works. Love the colors!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Thanks, guys! It's nice to be back in the groove.

Gwen Bell said...

Thank you for this Elizabeth! I'm finishing a commission as well and after reading your post I realized just how it DOES suck the creativity right out of me. No more commissions!

These two paintings are so beautiful! I was already in love with "3 Flamingos", but now with the background solidified and the wonderful "feather" strokes, it's even more awesome.

"Under The Big Tree" is so much fun. I like the way you left the magazine print showing and the beautifully delicate scroll-work and blocked purple background. The detail on the birds is wonderful!

Jean Spitzer said...

I love these--especially the first piece, with the squirrel among the birds.

It's hard to do something for someone else when they're dictating details. You then have to change everything else so their particular desire fits the work.

That level of conscious thought diminishes the chance of the happy accident, which is where some of my best stuff happens.

Cyndy Carstens said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Oh the old dilemma of commission work. I painted murals for a living for 15 years until I just couldn't take it anymore. I think one has to have a special temperament to do commission work and if it doesn't feel satisfying in the end, one shouldn't do it. No amount of money is worth stealing our sense of accomplishment and happiness we get from our work. Anyway, that's how I feel. My better half would rather I just made money, but loves me in spite of my lack of income.

Gary Keimig said...

Oh. Gosh. And I have a commission I just have to get done and have been putting it off so long I had forgotten about it. So. Thanks all for reminding me??!!
Great color on these 2 Elizabeth. And they are such fun pieces. Good work.

L.Holm said...

Wonderful work. Really love the flamingos.
I agree completely about commissions. I used to think they'd get easier if I did more. They seemed to get tougher.

Christine's Arts said...

Hey Elizabeth! These are great! I love the scroll work and the squirrel in the tree!!! It is fun to see your process and the finished product. About commissions, I agree with you. People can see your style and should order accordingly. So, if you like the idea presented to you, make something you love and offer it to them first! I do commissions if I am inspired by the request.

Barbara M. said...

Hi Elizabeth,

As someone who earns most of her art
income from commissions, I have to say I really enjoy them. What helps is a thorough discussion of their expectations, and your work before you begin. I sometimes take my portfolio to the initial discussion.
Then a contract is a good idea, because clients who pay a non-refundable deposit are committed to your style.

I don't feel that my creativity is limited one bit by a commission, but I think that's because anyone
brave enough to want me to draw or paint them, has checked out my work, and isn't looking for anyone
else's style.

But everyone is different. If it's wrong for you, you need to stop.
The other thing that works for me is
being absolutely crazy about my clients. If I think they're wonderful, they feel that way, and everything works.

I am absolutely crazy about these gorgeous paintings.

Super work.

Barbara

Teresa said...

I think I'll stay out of the commissions vs. no commissions debate... I just wanted to let you know that I liked what you said about being a "slug" ... says it perfectly... I know where you're coming from and sometimes "slugdom" is just the thing!

simplicitylane said...

I've been looking at Under the Big Tree for ten minutes...it has a powerful draw; colors, symmetry, placement, depth, and a squirrel with a very cute head. Can't wait to see it at the show! Steve W.

simplicitylane said...

I've been looking at Under the Big Tree for ten minutes...it has a powerful draw; colors, symmetry, placement, depth, and a squirrel with a very cute head. Can't wait to see it at the show! Steve W.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Follow your own muse...it is almost impossible to please with a commission. Let people buy what you create from your vision! That is my big advice for myself and I hope it helps you in deciding.

Jo Horswill said...

I agree with Blue Sky Dreaming...
There is something special about someone wanting a piece of your own work...and the satisfaction of knowing that someone is responding to "you the artist" rather than an art technician is a rewarding feeling indeed.
Wonderful work here, by the way :)

Jeane said...

first of all, I love the first image - it just makes me smile - commissions are definitely not for me - it can be good income, but I would rather make money another way and keep my art for myself - I'v worked too hard on following my intuition and don't want to give that up :)

Megha Chhatbar said...

Wowww...Flamingos are just wonderful...You do a fantastic job! :)

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

Beautiful work! Commissions can sour us sometimes. I have been completely blocked buy some of them in the past. I understand.One of my best friends is also an Elizabeth who also does collage. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate your comment. I'll e back to see more of your works!

Sandy Maudlin said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Your collages are awesome!!!!! Love your work. ANd I'm think the same way about commissions. I seldom ever accept them anymore, partially because it takes forever for the desire to paint 'their' picture to grow inside of me, and partially because I just want to paint what interests and inspires me. I used to be flattered that someone liked my work enough to ask me to paint a pix for them, but I got past that. Never had anyone go home unhappy with their painting, but it sucked creativity out of me too much, too. I love making art so that's my focus now. And I love seeing yours.

Dana Cooper Fine Art said...

Your work is amazing and one of a kind! The creative process has to be your own. Commissions are hard because customers expect you to paint what is in their minds eye not yours. I once had a customer who wanted to direct every stroke vie e-mail! My biggest mistake was sending photos of the work in progress. They wanted it to have a finished look before it was.
The way I now work is to have the customer pay 15% up front non-refundable, and they then have no other obligation if they don't like it. I too have the freedom to say it's done...no unhappy customers or artist!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Wow! I had no idea I would get so much response about commissions. You all are so smart, and each of you helped me see things in a new way. I so appreciate the time you took to answer. This has really been bothering me over time, and it just really came to a head this week.

I plan to respond to each of you in turn, but tonight I must run back for our big fund raiser party at LibertyTown.

Had another visit from Cathyann. It's great to be so close to blogging friends!

Jala Pfaff said...

I'm pretty new at art and have never done a commission (though my gut sense is "I don't want to!"). Thank you for the food for thought.