Friday, January 25, 2008


I thought I would share this painting with you today. It is Contemplation 6, 12" x 12" acrylic on deep, gallery wrapped canvas.

So today I am going to move off in a different direction. Babs ( ) suggested possibility talking about commissions. My friend, Julianna ( ) has recently talked with me about a commission she is working on. And Andrea's postings ( ) started me thinking about how to approach commissions once they are procured. So I think I am supposed to talk about commissions today.

Now I am not going to talk about how to locate commissions. I wouldn't know where to begin with that one. I am not a person who would take on a commission lightly as it would have to be the right proposal at the right time. What I would like to talk about is how to work with your client to produce the best work you can for them. The one thing you want to do is make the experience of working with you a positive memory. So you first need to realize why a client might have chosen you. First of all, it is obvious, they like the work you do. But I also think it is very appealing to many people to know someone has put effort in creating something original just for them. This is why you want to make the experience a positive memory for them. But you also want to have a positive experience.

First of all, say yes when you feel as though you can work well with the client. That is really important. Say NO if you just don't feel right about it! Lean on your intuition for this one. The next thing I think is important in creating this positive memory is to find out as much as you can about the client. Oh, we will ask what of the work we have done do you like? What colors do you like? Where will the painting be placed, etc. These are issues which can change quickly. So I think it is important for everyone to go a bit beyond that. For example, as an artist, evaluate the type of person they are: introvert, extrovert, laid back, type A, who and what do they surround themselves with, what are their major interests, how do they dress (gives great information), what kind of focus will the work have in their living/working space and of course the specific location they have in mind for the work...although that can change drastically. And use this information to create...

Considering a few of these you may need to think about the opposite of the answers to these questions. For example, a laid-back introvert may very well enjoy an exciting, colorful, over powering work...and they may not. Maybe the classic dresser really loves the idea of rustic...and they may not. The international banker might just love the idea of terra firma...and maybe not. You see, it is your job to really explore all of the possibilities and get a sense of what is going to excite this client in the type of work you do. And by-the-way, no space in a home or office is to be considered not worthy of your work. Sure, who would not like to be commissioned a huge canvas for the foyer of the penthouse? But the bathroom is a place where the viewer is captured alone to contemplate what is on the wall. And the more intimate the space, the more your work will be appreciated.

So here is the question, how do you effectively work with the client in a few meetings? That is where Andrea's (see link above and to the right...CestAndrea) project comes in. If you go to her blog site, go ahead, it is really wonderful, and scroll down to where she is talking about her "trend boards". Do you see these creative boards she is using to help broaden the colors for her work? If a client had these kinds of references to view, so you could get an idea of what they like and what they think they do not like, I think it would make the world of difference in the commission experience for everyone. If boards like this were created for the elements of art and you could use the principles to pull together the perfect piece for the client, don't you think it would be a positive experience? Yes, yes of course you would have to create the boards, but that would also be a positive experience for you (I have found that revisiting the elements and principles from time to time is very refreshing) as well. And over time, you could have a lovely series to use not only for your own reference, but to use with possible commission clients, too.

This brings me to my final point, for me it is important to connect with lots and lots of different artists. As you know, I love painting, but I also love other art forms a lot. I also love textiles a great deal and that is what drew me to Andrea's blog (and the fact she lives in Paris and speaks excellent English :) ). I additionally adore glass and have my favorite glass artists, too. Then there is the pottery...oh, I could go on and on here. But the point is by working together and understanding most all creative people are confronted with the same issues, we can learn so much with so much less pain. Sometimes it is another creative person who comes to your for a commission, and that makes working with them a bit easier...there is the common language. But often it is not someone who speaks the language of creativity who wants to commission you, so you have to help them learn a little bit of creative speak and you will need to learn a little bit of "whatever" speak. The experience I have in interior design has allowed me to understand whenever you allow the client into your world a little bit and give them the chance to "participate", then they are almost always happy with the result!

So what do you think? I am sure there are some wonderful comments wanting to get at me on this one.

On Monday... I will tell you what I do to make it easier for viewers/purchasers to participate in how they see my paintings.

Until then, have a Beautiful and Creative Weekend. And let me know your thoughts...


~Babs said...

Hi Kim!
Super painting,,,love the areas of brighter blue & red contrasting with the quiet.Exciting and calm at the same time.

Commissions? Not often.
My experience,,,which is limited:

I once was approached by a couple who'd been viewing my work of a 30 x 40 Normandy type landscape in oil.They wanted to know if I'd consider doing a (gasp) MURAL in this same media,color and style on their dining room WALL. I was realy flattered,,(and somewhat flabbergasted) but I know my limitations,,, and declined. I couldn't have done that. Visions of being at their home,(how often, how long??) with them watching, maybe chatting,,possibly directing,,,ALL the negatives that I knew would prevent my being able to do the work. Had I been more experienced at that time, I could possibly have suggested an alternative plan, as in unstretched canvas, done in my studio,,,presented to them finished,,,,,then installed in their dining room. But I was all twitchy, so thanked them for the opportunity and declined.I've really never regretted that.

I have done a few requested pieces,,,,and the clients were happy. This has been in the realm of "do me something in red",,,and non representational.Fun!
The only kind I'd attempt.Not any pressure,,no 'working with' the client,,,,and no deadline.

I did learn one lesson: A guy wanted me to "do one JUST LIKE THIS ONE,,,only LARGER".
Well, in my experience, they never turn out 'just like'.I guess it was close enough,,,he was very happy with it,,,,but I wasn't. The spontaneous feel of it was missing.He paid well,but I didn't feel good about it,,,as I knew it wasn't my best work. I'd much rather show my stuff, and if someone likes what they see,,,then they can own it.
Just my experience,,,,staying within my comfort zone,,,works for me.

Andrea and Kim said...

Babs! You know I absolutely agree with you...staying in your comfort zone is so very important. Your experience and insights show clearly in what you KNOW is right for you. I think it all goes back to "if it does NOT FEEL right, it isn't!" And that is just what you have been doing...only what feels right for Babs!

As always, I very much appreciate all of the thoughts and experiences you share here. These are some powerful stories...and the one that shows how important it is for EVERYONE to be happy with the end result.

Thank You!

Iggi Art said...

Well, I like your stuff! Brilliant, estrange, of exquisite facture... I’m from South America, my work is some dark and funny (it´s rare mixing) if you have time, please visit my gallery on...

Andrea and Kim said...

Iggi, thank you very much! I like your descriptives and feel very empowered by them.

I have briefly visited your blog gallery. Wow! Such detail! It is quite interesting. I can see the dark and the humor, too. I will be spending more time there, soon.

Thank you for visiting here and for the kind words. I hope you will visit again, soon.

indiaartist said...

Thank you for your comments on my blog and thank you very much for this elaborate post. I have just started to be serious about painting and as absorb all the information I can. There is so much to learn from our web community. Best wishes,

Andrea and Kim said...

Oh Thank you so very much for your kind words. I have found this community of artist are wonderful people and are constantly giving me ideas for things to talk about. Hopefully, I do not bore people with all of this babble.

Your blog shows some lovely work. I am eager to spend more time there.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Hopefully, I have not scared you away with all of my talking, and you will come again.

Unknown said...

Hi Kim,I left a comment here yesterday but it apparently got lost in space. What did I say? That your post is so interesting and thoughtful and inspiring. And thanks so much for linking my trend-boards to your ideas about being able to communicate better with a client. That shows us new and exciting possibilities to get our artwork to the people who love it.
The painting is great, there is such an amount of movement in it. Like an earthquake. The colours are very "earth" too.
Have a wonderful Sunday, talk to you soon

Andrea and Kim said...

Ah Thank you so much Andrea! I really feel the style of your trend boards could be very helpful for many artists. Like you use them, personally, and to help clients understand the conversations better. In design, we are often concerned with how to best communicate with the clients (because a sale is important and a happy client is important), so why not translate this to art commissions?

I have no idea why the comment didn't show up. I have had a few buggers lately with some comments, so again, I think you for taking the time to re-comment here.

I am happy you like the painting, too. Like an earthquake...a good description of that one. I suppose sometimes I feel a bit explosive!

As always, your thoughts and insights are so appreciated and welcomed.

D.M. Le Bris said...


Very rich colors in this new painting.

Beautifully done!


Andrea and Kim said...

Thank you, Danielle, your insights are greatly appreciated. Your work is so wonderful, I consider it an honor to have these comments from you.

Juan Bielsa. said...

Kim, your paintings are perfect for contemplation. They don't need many words to be described. They are like magical mirrors, where many important things are reflected.

And your experience as interior decorator no doubt is very important, because you know how to manage and combine colors, spaces... very wisely.

From Aragon,

Juan Bielsa

Andrea and Kim said...

Hello Juan, it is lovely to see you hear, my friend. And thank you for your kind words about my paintings. I love the idea of "magical mirrors". Sometimes it seems as though others can see the reflections of those mirrors better than I. I suppose we all understand that on some level.

I look forward to visiting your blog again to see what you have been doing. The last time I was there, I noticed I couldn't make a comment. I wanted to say I was missing your postings.

Have a lovely day in Aragon!

San said...

Kim, "Contemplation" is the perfect name for this series. Each is a little island of peace and reflection.

As to commissions: I've never done one but certainly would be open to one. As a gallery owner, I've set up commissions for painters before, with varying levels of satisfaction for all parties. If the client has the idea that he can dictate every brushstroke, it's trouble for all! If on the other hand, the client has looser ideas--I need this size, I'm looking for something reddish, along the lines of that painting over there...then we have a workable situation. It can actually be fun for the artist.

Andrea and Kim said...

Hello San! It is lovely to see your name here! Thank you for you kind words, too.

Well, let's might we find San a commission? :) Right, I suppose you are in one of the best places to make that happen! I totally understand what you mean about the client dictating every brushstroke and that would be horrible, wouldn't it? But if something like this helped the artist to understand the client's thoughts a bit better, it might be really it seems to me. But I am also used to working this way and that makes a huge difference. As you said, looseness is the key!

Your background as an artst and a gallery owner brings so much insight to all of us. I am always grateful for your comments and ideas here. Thank you so much!