Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Texas Spring - Managing a Commission

Texas Spring, 24 x 30, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019
Commissioned Painting - SOLD

As I shared in my last post, I was commissioned earlier this year to paint a classic Texas scene. It has all the usual suspects of the Texas Hill Country; oak trees, bluebonnets, a big sky and longhorns! Many thanks to my incredible client... she was a dream to work with!!

A word about commissions...
Commissions can be complicated, but I've learned to enjoy them. The key is communication. When I explain my process to clients and keep them in the loop, all goes well. It is important to establish a detailed timeline with achievable check-in points, and then to meet each deadline. Meet EACH deadline. I can not tell you how important this is (and really, it's true in every business!) Being reliable is almost as important as the final product. 

After a nice long discussion with my client (which included looking at lots of my other work), we agreed on the subject matter. I try to really understand what the client wants and we get there with LOTS of visuals. After that, we agreed on a process that would include the following check-in/approval points: 1) a sketch of the proposed scene, 2) a color study of the proposed scene, 3) the block-in stage for composition placement on actual piece, 4) final image at completion.

It might be helpful to note that I WANT the client's approval at each of these stages when I do a commission. I don't find it annoying because truly, it's the key to success. And after all, my greatest desire is that the client will LOVE the finished piece! Changes are much easier early on, and last minute surprises are not good for anyone this process!

Here is how it went... 

CHECKPOINT 1 - The Graphite Sketch, 8x10, for composition. 
After discussing with my client, we agreed to enlarge the scene. She wanted more of our big Texas sky, and more reference to clouds... NOT approved, see fix...

Expanded Graphite Sketch, 10x13, modified composition.
Since my client loved all the other elements, I simply adjusted the drawing to include more sky (you can see the original edge.) APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 2 - Color Study in Oil, 12x16, for color, value, and mood.
Note that this study is not in the correct proportions. Normally I would recommend staying true to proportions throughout. It's just easier. Since my client was able to visualize these colors in the expanded scene, she felt she had enough and did not require another study - yay. APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 3 - Painting Block-in in oil, 24 x 30, for placement.
Hopefully, when I present the block-in to my client, it looks A LOT lite the approved drawing. However, if something is off, or bothers them, I would rather know and fix it at this stage. (I don't want to be moving trees or adding a longhorn after the painting is complete.) APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 4 - Finished Piece, 24 x 30, oil on canvas
Usually, by the time I get to this point in the painting, my client has been so much a part of the journey that it feels like we have finished it together! I'm not saying there are never changes, but I find the changes are completely manageable when expectations are properly set. APPROVED! 

And there is nothing quite like that final approval! AHHHHHH! :)

4 comments:

Sharon L. Graves said...

That’s exactly how I do it too Laurie. I also give a timeline for payment. I take a down payment after the first conversation, and a percentage along the way so at the final approval the client only owes 10-20% when I deliver the finished painting. As long as everything is spelled out I have never had a problem. Beautiful work!

Laurel Daniel said...

Thank you, Sharon! And yes, it is the key to survival, success, and enjoyment! I'm glad to hear it works for you too! :)

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