I have been working my ass off lately. I have had back to back commissions all summer. Here is one I just completed and absolutely LOVE:
I am currently working on one that is my largest size ever – 72″x72″! I can barely even reach to paint the middle of the canvas (when lying flat). But I won’t complain – I am so thankful for the work. I was intimidated of the size at first, but I am absolutely loving the freedom of working so large! Someone commented this week: You sure have a great work ethic. That sounded funny, because I still think I’m a lazy kid at times. But, I have to (have a good work ethic.) However, I was not always like this. I had to learn to cut out a lot of stuff that really did not matter. Learn to say no. Learn to ask for help. Not take things personally and really distance myself and approach things with a more business like attitude. With every year that passes, I learn more and more, become more responsible, work harder, develop habits, etc. I’m so proud of myself. Who knew?
I had to revise my commission prices and policies a little bit this year because I did not realize how labor intensive these huge paintings can be. They have to either be hand built (which is both time consuming and physically stressful), or freight shipped to my studio (which is upstairs.) On the day I know I am getting a shipment, I try and look extra nice so when they make the delivery I look appealing, yet pathetic, and somehow get them to offer to take the canvas up the stairs for me (which they are NOT suppose to do.) I tip them $30 because they basically saved me 15 trips up and down the stairs; one canvas at a time. Large paintings take 2-3 times as much paint/gesso/gel medium/varnish to create – seems reasonable, but for some reason that did not cross my mind either. Then, if the completed canvas does not fit in my car, I have to rent a van just to take to the photographer, and then to the freight shipper. Everything is a learning experience, I suppose.
This past week I have used 64 oz of white gesso, 64oz of clear gesso, and a GALLON of clear gloss medium! I have just been mixing and pouring away, getting lost in certain areas of the canvas. Sometimes I have to wait 12 hours for one layer to dry! (I’m working on gallery work as well – not just these commissions) I’m so lucky to be able to create art for a living. I am thankful every day! Most artists loathe commissions. Some people can be indecisive, and particular. But I have really been lucky; I have the best clients ever! My art is very painterly, free, full of drips, and a bit sloppy – yet sophisticated, finished, and polished. Most people that admire my work are not usually anal or difficult people – they embrace the freedom. I enjoy commissions because they pose a challenge, and I find challenges interesting. They can take more time than a regular painting, but the key is good communication from the very beginning.
I remember a time when I was struggling so much I almost considered scrapping the whole art career thing. It is a difficult life – the self employed artist. But whatever I’m doing right now is spot on – because I’m practically rollin’ it! (JK) I met with my accountant this morning, and he said he would prefer to trade art for his services! I felt honored. For some reason it was the first time I felt that my work was a viable commodity.
On a side note, I feel so sad right now for those people in government jobs that have been furloughed. Most already live pay check to pay check and have families to care for. I feel guilty, but I guess that is just the part of me that does not think I deserve success. My heart breaks for these people, yet I’m so thankful that I live a life that is so far removed from that.