Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Story of a commission

I recently completed a commission for a couple who liked a painting of mine that was not only sold but the wrong size and orientation.

"Being there" by Kerry Steele
"Being there" has proven quite popular and I have done two large commissions based on it. It is a departure from my usual style that just came out of "playing" on a canvas. The original is 36 x 48 and the most recent commission is 42 x 60.

I had to stretch a custom canvas for that which takes more time and I charge a small amount extra for it but otherwise I don't charge for commission work beyond my regular fees. Most artists do.

When someone contacts me about a commission they tell me what they like, often referencing an existing painting of mine. I ask lots of questions to get a clear understanding of what they want.

"Sing holly, go whistle and ivy" by Kerry Steele

It is funny because this is where the myth of the moody artist with an inflated ego scares them and they say, "I don't want to tell you what to paint. Just work your magic. I love it all."
I laugh and go away to paint something, knowing that they won't like my initial stab in the dark.
It happens every time and they so timidly apologize as if they might anger me. It cracks me up. 
I remind them that a commission, or any painting for that matter, will undergo revisions. I expect revisions and as long as the client is not nasty or rude, I am not insulted in the least.

untitled commission by Kerry Steele
 Lots of emails and pictures are exchanged and usually I have a pretty good idea when I have nailed it for the client.  As soon as I get a confirmation, I do the finish work of edges, wiring, and varnishing. 
This is the part that my husband has a love/hate relationship with. He builds the crates for shipping large paintings and is just starting to build custom frames too.

One thing I learned the hard way is that paintings must be wrapped in 4mil or thicker plastic sheeting for shipping. Heat can soften the paint and making it stick to the packaging materials.
Huge paintings must be shipped by freight which basically means double the shipping of package rates. This can be a deal breaker for some so I always estimate those costs up front.

The commission process is really fun and exciting to most clients. Seeing their painting being created and anxiously awaiting a crate with the real thing inside is a unique thrill.

I love painting and seeing the pieces in their new homes.


Patty Day @Pattys Epiphanies said...

I found this Post extremely interesting... Thanks for sharing!

Vel Criste said...

WOw,I never knew how much work still goes into completing an order for a custom art work! This was very insightful. I have never ordered any custom art work yet and would love to someday. Thanks for all this info! :-)

Breezy Pointe Lane said...

Thanks for sharing this info. I would also like to see info on your process of painting. Maybe a piece from start to finish. Thanks.