“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” Degas
There are some artists who would run a mile rather than accept a commission for a painting, however I really like the challenge this presents. For the client, they have the extra bonus of knowing they will own a piece of art that has been created specifically for them, and for me, a commission gives me an opportunity to stretch myself in different ways.
A commission often stretches my palette
Often a client will ask for a particular colour or set of colours to be incorporated into a piece. Whilst I always ask a client to give me their ideas and any specific requirements, I also advise them that the final decisions and colour palette have to be mine, in order for me to be able to ensure that a painting ‘flows’ and ‘balances’ well.
A good example of this is the commissioned painting ‘Lighthouse at Dusk’ where the clients asked for burgundy and cream colours to be incorporated into a sunset coloured sky – they also wanted a lighthouse – more about that later! The sunset colours were new to me, and seemed to work really well in my ‘New Wave’ style, and also inspired further ‘sunset palette’ pieces too.
A commission often stretches my location
I was already a fan of Armação de Pêra on the Algarve with its palm tree lined walkways and inviting views of the sea and beach, but I had never thought of painting it until some clients of mine suggested it. They had a big wall space in their dining room, and invited me to come round, look at the space, chat through some ideas and measure up.
They had photos and a clear idea of wanting to see the walkway, with the palm trees with the sea glinting in the background – and a space of 1 metre wide to fill!
This one also stretched my easel too as I had to rig up a larger support to encompass the board!
I went back to the location with Dave once I had a clear idea of what they wanted so that I could take my own reference photographs, and then set to work. The result was a crisp, clean and bright painting on a theme I wouldn’t have thought of – even though I had walked past it so many times! ‘Promenade’ has become one of my favourite ‘New Wave’ pieces, and has also inspired me to create more paintings with this Panoramic Format too.
A commission often stretches a theme
A friend asked me if I could paint a picture that had one of my ‘African daisies’ featured – she loved the painting ‘Magenta’ but wanted to know if I could paint a similar flower with a ‘teal’ coloured theme. Her business branding and office had this colour as a theme – and would this work for a painting?
The resulting ‘Fabulous’ took the Daisy and gave it a new spin – and it worked really well!
A commission often stretches my vocabulary!
The title of the painting ‘Fabulous’ was also inspired by the above client’s business and upcoming book title – I will often ask a client to help me ‘name’ a painting once it is completed.
For this flower ‘Eve’ shown below – named after the client’s mother for whom it was painted – I have also learnt new flower names and plants too – I had never heard of an Alstromeria before – luckily they are quite prolific growers here on the Algarve!
A commission often stretches my imagination
At a recent exhibition, a client came and expressed his delight at my ‘New Wave’ style – and then showed me a photo he had taken – and asked whether he thought it could be painted in my style. I instantly knew it would work well, and as with all my paintings, could ‘see’ the finished piece in my mind straight away.
You’ll have to visit my website in about a week’s time for this one as it is currently sketched out and started on my easel – but here’s the reference photograph he sent me:
A commission often stretches my library of reference material
The ‘Lighthouse at Dusk’ painting mentioned at the start required me to do some research to find a lighthouse picture that I could use as a reference. The clients had liked my ‘Breakwater Lighthouse’ piece but wanted a different lighthouse. I am always at great pains to ensure that if I cannot use one of my own photographs (which is nearly always the case) then I will always seek the owner’s permission before using another person’s photograph. For this painting I actually used two references, and as you will see on my website, fully credited them alongside the painting.
For the painting ‘Rita’ shown below, I needed to paint a rose – so I went to my favourite Facebook Artists United group and asked fellow artists if they had any reference photographs of roses that I could use – I was sent 14 amazing different photographs; and alongside a fellow blogger’s site The Serenity Space who also gave me permission to use some lovely shots on a recent blog post, I had a great collection of images to send to the client to choose from.
The chosen flower – a beautiful red rose – was lovely to paint, and I made sure that the photographer and fellow artist Sarah Perry was credited too:
A commission often stretches Dave’s camera
I often ask Dave to go out with his camera with a specific request for photographs of ‘x y or z’ depending on what I need! The next painting on my books for a client is going to be two poppies – and although I already have some poppy photographs, you can never have too many!
He really did excel himself with these photographs though – here’s a taster of one – which I am sure will lead to more than one painting in the future!
If you would like to commission a painting from me – there are two things you need to know!
The first is explained on my FAQs page of my website:
Ultimately the painting will be my interpretation of a view or scene – I always ask a client to give me their ideas and then trust me!
The second thing is that I do not charge anything up front – and if you do not like the finished piece – then you do not have to buy it! This might seem a little strange in the current climate, but it is how I prefer to work – there is no pressure on you to have to purchase something if you are not 100% happy with it – and I can work knowing that I am free to create the best work I can for you. I am very proud of the fact that so far – everyone has been delighted with their commissioned pieces – and as you can see from this article – I have learned something new with every piece I have completed.
In a future article I will talk more specifically about my Pet Portrait commissions, and what a wonderful challenge and delight these are too. If you can’t wait to find out more about them – you can click this logo here:
I hope that you have enjoyed this insight into my world – if you have you might also enjoy reading Painting a Flower in Stages which will give you a peak into how I complete a painting.