Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Lesson Learned About Commissions

I was so pleased to get a portrait commission! It's been a long time since I did such and I wanted to get back in the swing of things. Along the way I learned and relearned a bunch of helpful stuff that I hope to incorporate into future paintings.

First and foremost: insist on a good picture at a decent size! Luckily, today's technology is a LOT better than it was when I first started doing portraits back right after college. Now I can scan a photo, take it into Photoshop, work with it a bit, and print it out at a large, viewable size. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to reinforce the importance of getting a clear shot to begin with.

Also, I need to make sure the client and I are on the same wavelength as to what they want. They're the one ordering the portrait. They're the one paying for it. And they and their descendants will be the ones looking at it for years to come.

So when I thought I'd completed this particular portrait (above), I congratulated myself on doing a good job. I'd changed some colors to make it more lively and so the figures would stand out more. I'd adjusted the composition so the figures could be larger. But when I sent a jpg to the client for approval, she said that she recalled the skirt not being red, etc.

One of my instructors once said that while the artist is interested in composition, color harmony, value, etc., the client just wants it to look like the subject. I'll take that a little farther: though the artist wants to make art, the client is more interested in preserving the memory. In a commissioned work, the client's wants are by far the most important thing. Without them, there is no commission.

So I've redone the portrait a bit, hoping that the client will prefer this version:

Live, learn, and keep those fingers crossed!


Beth Caudill said...

Carol - It's scary having to meet a clients needs and not your own.

That is one good thing about writing in genre fiction - you write what you want...not what other people think they want. You still hope people buy it...but when you create it, it's all about what you want.

Carol A. Strickland said...

Well, as long as the editors/publishers agree with what you wrote. (Jenny Crusie's talk concerning a writer's need too write lesbian terrorist nun fiction in a market that doesn't support such, comes to mind.) Yep, I like having the power! I like that it's so easy to self-publish these days... but unfortunately it's also so hard to self-promote to the masses.

Carol A. Strickland said...

Someday many sites will allow editing of one's posts without deleting them first.