When you take on a commission, you’re initially filled with a sense of buzzing energy. When I do commissioned oil paintings, I like to get excited by the client’s story and of course, I think I’m invincible and tell myself things like:
“You got this!”
“Come on, of course, you can do that. Pshhhhhh.”
The ego is in charge.
What they don’t tell you about commissioned work
It can be scary as hell when it’s time to show the client!
Why? Because you had to create what the client expected or obviously exceed those expectations.
And some clients don’t always explain themselves well, so just like a project team needs to ascertain what the business problems are and find out what the client envisions for a new system to do- you need to determine what the client wants on that canvas.
So, get a contract in place.
It sounds silly and admin-y and over-the-top, but it’s there to protect both parties.
Below I share my experiences of not having any contracts in place.
That Yellow Rose commissioned oil painting
I had a client in 2018 who showed me a picture of a yellow rose done in watercolour. She wanted specific colours, no vase, pale background etc. I explained that I work in oil paint and even showed her previous work to give a glimpse of my style.
While I painted it, I felt constricted. Uneasy. But I loved what she was doing for her mother. In the end, I created the image below.
I was as sad as that rose looked. I decided to add a touch of yellow to the background because. Damn. And then that was also an issue. It turned out she wanted a watercolour rose, which I didn’t explore at the time. So, after some discussion (she was really sweet about it), I said I’d rather give her money back. We agreed on half and she said I used materials and my time etc.
I then took that rose and did my own thing.
To say that I was “satisfied” is truly an understatement. Maybe because I took the pressure off by doing my own thing, in the end, allowed me to feel free. And it is that freedom that guided every stroke. There was confidence, naturally, but also a sense of embracing this free spirit. It wasn’t about whether anyone would like it. It wasn’t about the commissioned oil painting. Nope. It was about me.
And it was well received when I decided to received online! It sold less in a day! And who bought it? The one and only Haylee Dugmore from Cassie’s Workshop (in Cape Town) who creates beautiful, bespoke and TIMELESS pieces out of old furniture.
Ladybirds and Nova Commissioned oil paintings
The next commission I completed also included some specifics, but I was allowed more freedom in the sense that it was a triptych (three canvas painting) and I had one canvas to play with to join the other two canvases. Please forgive the poor photo quality.
This is what I received in my inbox:
My friend’s mom was murdered last year, and she always loved ladybirds. Now the friend is about to have a baby they are naming Nova, which means new life but also butterflies. I was wondering if you could do a three panel painting with a ladybug, something like metamorphosis/healing in the middle and then a butterfly or something. No idea if that makes sense…
Yes, one can be bombarded by the pressure but one thing is for sure- I was moved by the story. This one went relatively quickly, despite being in the middle of a move from Saldanha to Mosselbay. But I tried to not let that get to me (Easier said than done, right?)
I was happy that it was well received, and that I managed to work on a few additional skills, like working with a paintbrush (not a big fan ;P).
Commissioned oil painting for Bold Curiosity’s Celeste Stewart
Now this one, was truly one for the books. I am not I-paint-landscapes-for-a-living-person so although I had skies and mountains in mind for Celeste, it was tough finding reference images for exactly what I wanted to portray.
This is what I had to say about the painting on Instagram:
“With her wings of fire, she will soar and be one with the sun.” When I think of @celestestewart , I think of bright colours, an amazing laugh and a defiance that challenges traditional definitions of success, societal norms AND how we view ourselves.
In our first meeting, I fell in love with her boldness and how she drew out my secret desire for power. Power isn’t a bad thing – andimagine how life changing it can be to fully embrace every bit of power to you to make your dreams come true, to help people and just love yourself ❤️ Celeste is one of my mentors and a special cheerleader in my life.
It was a pleasure getting to paint her as I see her. A woman of strength who is always looking up, ready to fly and conquer the next mountain with her beautiful wings.
She’s fierce not only because she has made the decision to be, but every bit of her journey has brought her to this place and in this space.
This project is also the last official type of commission that I take on. I need to make space and time to grow in other ways too. Being able to be part of the journey and stories of many of my clients’ commissions have been such a joy. You know when you get emotional painting eyes or a lemon 🍋 printed skirt, it’s REAL 🔥
And yes, that is her skirt that I managed to add with a palette knife! Check her out online on her page, Bold Curiosity. Bold Curiosity is “a learning and people development consultancy business”. <3
Commissioned oil paintings of Emily’s children
This project took forever. I’m not even shy to say it. I have progress images of this painting developing and I hated them. Maybe that was one of the reasons why I took forever. Maybe not.
Frustration grew deep within me because 1) I put a lot of pressure on myself and 2) I admire Emily so much (she was one of the reasons why I decided to take a job offer at EY as an associate there years ago). So, imagine with every stroke of my palette knife, I was filled with self-doubt.
It was crippling on most days.
But then I made the conscious decision to rather to the sun, seek the reasons WHY I took on THIS project in the first place:
HER LOVE FOR HER CHILDREN.
You know mom life is not easy. Duh. That’s what they say and that’s probably why wine sells but when I see how much Emily loves and lives for her children, I melt. And I’m inspired. All in one.
I decided to do a round-up of my commissioned oil paintings as I have decided to not taking any more projects of this nature on. There may be that rare occasion, but this doesn’t form part of my core business anymore. Doing commissions for heartbeat paintings is something I am still keen to do.
I have a new focus this year, and I’m very excited to share what’s on the cards for 2018!
Be B O L D !