I’m supposed to be wrapping up a commission this weekend. Correction: I AM wrapping up a commission this weekend. It’s a really wonderful collection of photo reference, it’s a gift, it’s a direct result of my California trip in March, it’s dynamic and fun and a pleasure to work on… so why isn’t it done yet?
Commission are, in some ways, the easiest type of artwork to work on. You have a predefined purpose in creating the art. You have a client. The art is already sold. Your contract clearly spells out what is expected on both sides. All you have to do is execute it. It’s that rare time for me that the picture in my mind is almost guaranteed to look like the finished product. And yet… and yet…
No matter what the piece of art- the scope, the size, the style- you can and always should push and challenge yourself to create something new, exciting, fresh, every time you sit down at the easel. Now, if creating personal art, this only leads to paralyzing indecision, which is why my studio is full of “orphan projects” – projects that have ideas and plans but got lost somewhere along the way. There’s too much potential there to throw them out, but at the moment, the roadmap is gone, the muse isn’t talking, and incidentally, I suck at art and should just go be a dental hygienist.
Commissions, for the reasons mentioned above, take away a lot of the problems that create “orphans”. Plus, they come with a due date, and that’s a powerful motivation to complete a project. For instance, my self appointed due date is today. (And yet I’m writing a blog. No comment.)
I’m loving the freshness and energy of this commission. Plus, it’s a watercolor, which is a great way of moving out of the oil painting headspace I’ve been in lately. I’m forever grateful to my education (my mom signing me up for watercolor lessons, and my formal art training as an illustrator) that I can work well in different mediums that require completely different approaches and switch back and forth without a lot of angst. I like the color, I like the pose, I like the background. So… is it done? There’s always something to change, improve, redo. I can always go back and push the values, refine the details, push and pull and lift out and rework. I could do it forever and still never be able to say a piece is “done”. (Funnily enough, clients don’t always appreciate this point of view. :-/)
Right now, I’m waiting for my green watercolor wash in the background to dry before I go back into it one more time (really!) and bring out the shadows and highlights, finesse the fine details, add the last details to the faces, and refine, refine, refine.
All right. Watercolor wash is dry. Time to dive in once more (just once more!) and add the finishing touches. Then it’s done. Right. Right?