Leading up to the Christmas season I was approached to create some commissioned paintings. Awesome!, right? Flattered due to my new found success in the "art world" I quickly and enthusiastically agreed...primarily because I took this as a compliment and then because who can't use some extra cash, especially leading up to the Christmas season?
Well....I learned a lesson or two while creating these commissions. You know those expressions like "pride comes before a fall"?...they never entered my mind! My first lesson: Don't agree to anything until you've logically thought the request through. The second: There are limitations to my abilities and unless I've achieved a measurable degree of success on a similar subject in the past, I likely shouldn't agree to create that subject for money!
If there is one word that sums up the process I experienced, it has to be "painful". Now, I don't believe I ever achieve much art or anything else, without some degree of struggle, but generally not the tearing your hair out, agonizing feeling as though you are going to be sick kind of struggle that was my experience for one such painting.
I discovered I am no portraitist, nor do I ever wish to be! The artists that can create these amazingly accurate portraits are incredibly gifted and talented and I tip my hat to them, but I think I need to learn a lot, lot more before I even just create the likeness of a specific individual's face.
The clients did not wish for perfect, but what encouraged them to approach me were some paintings I had done of my own children caught in a moment of some small and entirely innocent childlike discovery. What they gave me was a sweet picture of their granddaughter caught in a similar act but unlike mine, facing front. Well, I think that in the case of my own kids, what made the composition successful and read as "them" were the gestures which I knew well. Whether it be the tilt of their head, just so, but not excessively or the stance of their chubby toddler legs or the way their baby bottom sat solidly on the ground while strangling a helpless daisy.
Also, and paramount to their success was that in none did their little faces show completely!
Painting a child I've seen only a time or two and not really knowing her personality left me unnerved and unable to create the feeling I thought was necessary. I must have painted over that poor girl's face 30 times. Sometimes it would be soooo close I could almost justify leaving her as is, but then after a quick glance away then back, I'd realize I caught something of her, but a good chunk of the cute kid in front of me was simply not her, so again and again the plight went on. Anyway! Chalk it up to a lesson learned. In the end she turned out well and the clients as well as the parents of the child were thrilled with the painting, I'm stubborn like that.
However, if I were to "pay" myself on an hourly basis, let's just say...the rate may have been in line with what Noah got paid for building that Ark!...and no, I'm not about to get into a theological discussion about other payments either he or I received from the experiences...and in no way am I suggesting that my plight matched his...geeesh...most days I can barely manage to get out of bed without messing something up, let alone aspire to making history of Biblical proportions!
Oh and to make matters slightly more challenging I agreed to not 1 but 2 of these paintings...one not needed by Christmas, so there on my easel now sits # 2, going NO better than the first...but I will, will, will get it and then move on, thinking before I speak and challenging myself in directions that will expand and exercise my talents while not quite pummeling myself to near death in the process! An experience to remember as I make my way timidly into 2011!
Here she is- A cute, perfect, little, elfish, sweet girl painted by a very amateur artist!
And...another commission that did not pose near as many problems!
Regardless of my above gripe I do sincerely thank my clients who entrusted me with creating these paintings for them, your show of confidence is truly and genuinely appreciated, I thank you! Cheers! Jen