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Monday, January 06, 2020

What to do with a Commission Fail

'Renewal'                  18x24                  pastel                 ©Karen Margulis
available on my Etsy shop  $450

It was bound to happen. I don't take on commission very often but I have always had a successful experience. The last two have been failures. Not the paintings necessarily but meeting the expectations and the vision of the client. It is difficult to know exactly what is in the mind of those who commission our work. We can assume they are familiar with our style and subject matter but that isn't always enough. Sometimes what they have in their head is not what you create and then the commission is a failure. 

In my most recent commission I went against my better judgement and tried to paint something that really wasn't my typical style and palette. I thought I understood what the client had in mind. But even as I painted it I knew I wasn't being true to my own style....too fussy and too bright.  Below is the finished commission that was rejected because it wasn't what the client  had in mind. It is 18x24. Sometimes a client gives you the opportunity to make adjustments but in this case it was a flat out no thanks. And no I didn't get any money up front because I never have any problems. But instead of feeling defeated I was excited that it was a no.

Now I could use this paper to create something that made me happy! Pastel is so versatile and I knew I now was given the freedom to play!

The rejected commission 18x24 on Uart
 The first thing I did was brush off the thickest areas of pastel. The I took a cheap brush and some clear gesso and painted over the pastel. You can see how the gesso liquifies the pastel and makes it into a darkish blob. But now I had a dark textured surface to reinvent the painting. The gesso did not buckle the unmounted Uart paper at all.

New beginnings with clear gesso
 I selected a photo of some trees from a hike a took in Norway. It had a similar arrangement of trees and color palette as the commission AND it was something that spoke to me personally I drew in the big simple mountain shape and tree shapes.

I had fun redoing the painting with my new vision. The texture added to the feeling of grasses and foliage and allowed me to keep things simple and not fussy.  I was able to incorporate more neutrals using the brighter greens as accents. It was a fun painting and it allowed me to find joy in a disappointing experience.

Lesson I learned: I will now only accept commissions that resonate with me with the client giving me full reign. I still will not ask for money in advance because if a client is not happy with my work I'd rather repurpose the paper!  I don't really do many commissions so it really isn't  a big concern.

The new painting

A close up of the texture created by the clear gesso.


LS Nelson said...

What a great post to share with us. It would be disappointing, but we live with that generally in life so no point in letting it keep you bummed out. Pastel paper is expensive so of course you did the right thing to reuse the paper. What you ended up with is gorgeous!

Eileen Sullivan said...

Great post. Love the new painting!

RoK said...

Thank you for sharing this post! Your work is so wonderful and so is your attitude.


Very wonderful landscape paintings !!!