Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Why I Don't Do Commissions... (At least not right now)

I recently had several people try to commission me to do some paintings but, unfortunately, I had to turn the work down. I felt it would be appropriate to blog about my reasons why, hence this post.

Before I explain why I can't do commissioned paintings, I will share with you that I have done a handful of them over the years. To date I think I have done three - the first was a painting of a cat sitting on a horse, the second is the painting featured in the photo for this post (Orgasm as a Metaphor for Life), and the third was an abstract turtle - and I simply did not enjoy the process. I did find some joy in solving the artistic problems inherent in each painting, but knowing that what I was painting was externally driven caused some anxiety for me. This anxiety seems to have gotten worse with time because when I started to receive commission offers this year (at least four commissions from three different parties) I had to eventually turn them down. Why? Because I froze. And the panic and dread were preventing me from lifting a brush for any reason, which was even worse than just being unable to paint the commissions.

The reason I cannot paint commissions is simple: I feel like a commission turns the process of creating art into a performance, and I fear that my performance will fall short of the expected vision held by the client/ patron. I overthink the process and the outcome and this has started to result in an inability to paint.

I had initially said "yes" to this year's commissions and I hated having to call my potential clients and cancel the work, but it had to be done to avoid further damage later on down the line. While it's true that I've matured as an artist a bit since I did my last commission and thus saw some amazing potential to line up my skills with the clients' visions, I still couldn't shake the feeling that I would deliver a product that the buyer would ultimately not want to pay for.

I feel like my ability to anticipate a reaction to a painting that I have stewarded entirely on my own is more acute than my ability to align my painting skills with an expectation. What I mean by this is, I feel I can create something on my own that someone will connect with without knowing why, whereas this connection will never be conjured if I'm painting a commission.

Because I am not a full time artist, I have the luxury of choosing not to work on commission at all. Perhaps this will change with time (and I hope it does), but until I have more confidence and trust in my ability to execute, regardless of the conditions, then I am opting to not paint commissions. I hope you understand this and will find a connection with a painting that I have already created instead.

For now, please do not ask me to paint something for you. I will turn down the work, at least during this phase of my artistic career. Thank you.

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