We’ve all been there. “Nothing inspires me.” “I can’t do this.” I’m going to break my brushes in half.” I watch TV, wander around the house finding small jobs that need attention, find some excuse to go to the hardware or grocery store.
Anywhere but the studio.
Carol tries to nudge me. “You haven’t painted in several days. Don’t you have something you should be working on?”
I try to duck. “I painted the dining room.”
What I’m really experiencing is a crisis of confidence and I know that there is only one way to break out of it. Do something I like. Paint something I can be proud of.
Sounds simple. It’s not.
Prayer helps. “Open my heart. Focus my eye. Guide my hand.”
Finally, I settle at the painting table and start a fresh project, possibly a gift I intend to present to a relative for Christmas.
Aha! Time pressure. I must complete this.
Soon, I am lost in the magic of the medium and actually produce something I like. This time, it was the little alpaca sketch. Last time, it was the dog.
How do we lose confidence? Why do we do this? Why does the muse abandon us? (The bitch).
Some advise simply playing. Pool some paint on paper and push it around until inspiration strikes. This doesn’t work for me.
“It’s only a piece of paper.” “Yes, but it’s my piece of paper!”
Watercolor isn’t life or death. It’s more important than that!
Back to the painting table. Maybe the Muse will slip in while I’m working.
Sometimes, she does.
Commission work is always challenging. The client selects the subject and often the treatment he/she wants. It may not be your vision!
I recently completed this painting, commissioned by a real estate agency owner. It depicts his family on the beach at Haystack Rock, a near-holy place for him. His instructions were very specific. Place the family on the beach, by the rock, at sunset, backlit by the setting sun. Emphasize the blue and gold colors of the scene. (In the final painting, I darkened the figures, slightly. This photo was taken prior to that edit.)
I completed many drawings, rearranging the family members and varying sizes of the main elements. I painted several small studies and three large drafts before completing one I liked. I worked on the project while on the trip to Canyon de Chelly because he wanted it for Mother’s Day.
He had indicated that it need not be framed as his wife likes to frame the work that hangs in their home but I couldn’t just hand him a piece of paper! Of course, I matted and framed it explaining that it could easily be lifted out.
He requested a personalized letter of authenticity. I addressed it to his wife.
As always, when I accepted the commission, I emphasized, that he was under no obligation to purchase the resulting work.
He came to the house and took Carol and me to lunch. Then it was time to unveil the painting, which I had draped on a stand in our living room. I was nervous.
He was thrilled. He was particularly pleased that I had perfectly captured the shape of the family members. He loved the color scheme.
As agreed, he handed me $1,000.
I encourage you to paint commission work. While challenging, it can advance your art. It can also be lucrative.