Sunday, February 19, 2017

The BIG ONE (60x72)... and Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

A Capitol Evening, 60 x 72, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
Third of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
New teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

This is the big one, friends... and it will be placed in the entrance lobby of the new medical center!!! How cool is that?? I do wish you could see it in person to get the sense of the scale and brushwork, but here are some close ups...

A Capitol Evening (detail)

A Capitol Evening (detail)

The canvas is so big that I had to have it delivered to my house (it doesn't fit in my car!) Then, I had to move my studio into our living room to work on it. Thankfully, my easel moves up and down for painting the bottom half, but I could only do the sky by standing on my garden bench! Let's just say, there were definitely some gymnastics involved, and I learned A LOT from all of it! 

I'm still mentally digesting the lessons of scaling up my process to such a large format. Some days went smoothly, some were a bit challenging, and still others were downright frustrating. (My husband would insert here that he was compelled to stage an intervention about halfway through... some discussions on the "ledge" and a whisking away to the movies were greatly needed!) Painting this large required some serious adjusting on my part, and more importantly, keeping my eyes on the goal. Happily, it all came together in the end! 

A lot of you have asked about the ins and outs of commission work and I promised some "take aways" about that. For some reason, there is an awkwardness involved in doing creative work for other people. It is really important to treat a commission like a business deal, and that's where it gets hard. To that end, here are some of my tricks for managing the process:

Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

1. Get a signed contract. (Include painting design, fees, and project timetable.) 

2. Build in an extra fee for the "hassle factor". (20% add-on is my standard.)
3. Allow extra time in schedule for completing the work. (Life happens.)
4. Get a non-refundable down payment. (50% to get started is reasonable.)
5. Agree ahead of time on approval process. (Communication is everything.)
6. Document each stage. (And secure approval at designated checkpoints.)
7. Rearrange life. (Cancel lunches and take over the living room if necessary!)
8. Do the work and do not procrastinate. (Last minute equals disaster.)
9. No surprises. (Mid-project is not the time to "try a new idea".)
10. Meet deadlines - all of them. (And finish on time.)

I could write an essay on each one of these points, including stories of when I did it right and when I did it WAY wrong. But it all boils down to this... if I follow these guidelines, the whole process is better for my client and it is definitely better for me! It helps ME stay on schedule, and it helps us all stay on the same page. 


Unknown said...

Laurel, I love this! What a beautiful, ambitious project!

Marilyn Flanegan said...

Wow. What impressive work Laurel, congratulations! Where in the new Medical Center will they be mounted?
Will we be seeing you at future paint outs with larger panels?!
: )

Bruce Bingham said...

Great commission and congratulations! Also congrats on your plein air instructional video coming out!
You rock girl!

Laurel Daniel said...

Thank you, dear friends! I am very thrilled!!!! Grinning from ear to ear! :)

Sharon L. Graves said...

The painting is incredible and will look stunning in its new home. That's exactly the steps I take on commissions and it does work perfectly. Communication is key through the process.

Barbara Muir said...

Magnificent. I like the rules too. Wow this is such a beauty.


Stephanie Berry said...

I am impressed! Such a challenging project! Thanks for sharing the tips on commissions. Beautiful job. I bet you're relieved to have it finished.