Nov 1, 2018
I’ve been working on two commissioned paintings these last few weeks. It’s taken a while to get back into painting after having a long break after ArtWalk, a trip to New York City, a harsh cold and a trip to Whistler. It really is true. The longer you stay away, the harder it is to step back into the swing of things in the studio. I've been heading in though and slowly building up my hours and time standing and painting, thinking, deciding, letting the creative energy build and take me away into that awesome flow zone. The commissions were fun to start and develop. As with many paintings, once the design starts to get nailed down, more discerning and consideration occurs. With the commissions, that happened very soon. I'd say that's pretty normal as a commission already has a general preconceived goal. I use the word goal loosely though. Both pieces are based on previous works, so I know where they are “supposed” to be heading. Or do I? This is where things can get a bit sticky and often tighten up and feel restrictive if I'm not careful. Careful. There's another word I don't want in my repertoire too soon in the creative process. Only as I near the end, do I want those considered decisions to begin directing the painting's completion.
Balance seems to be a word that constantly crosses my life path. Pretty much my whole adult life that word amazes, behooves, mesmerizes me. When I left the farm to live in Toronto, I found that the greatest concern I had when "issues" came up was the question of balance. Balancing work and social, earning and spending, friends and family, my relationship with me and my relationship with another. That's just the journey when starting out I suppose.
But I see the balancing act continues and does too in my art practice. Doing commissioned work is about balancing what I think the client wants and what I want. Balancing what the client loves about my work and what I love. Balancing the actual design elements in a painting. Balancing the time I spend on the commissions and the painting I do for myself. Balancing my art practice with other parts of life. All these are all important. None more than the other. I've no difficulty getting to work. I’m a super committed person. When I’m in I’m in! It's more about finding the place in me to create knowing that the client loves my work, keeping in mind what they like about it, then tossing that all away so I can access the part they really are intrigued with. The part that intrigues me too about creating my art. And that is the journey of exploration. The risk taking and trying things new. Seeing what happens and making something out of it all.
Friends of mine asked me over the weekend:, how hard would I say it is to do a commissioned painting? My response was immediate. It's a challenge like no other. Next question: would you say no to a commission? Never, was my answer. The challenge is not something I would wish to walk away from. I rarely turn away from a challenge unless I know it's dangerous. No, this is just more of my art journey challenges, but on steroids. It's good work to do that pushes me to be accountable for my thoughts, beliefs, decisions, and direction. And with a few secrets up my sleeve, I’ve found ways to keep me on track, keeping the painting alive and juicy!
I don’t spend too much time thinking about how other artists deal with the challenges of an artist’s life, commissions, or their work. We all do art differently. We all do life differently. It’s really about finding our way. All of it. Same as my questions as a newly released adult in the world. Finding my way, finding balance. Taking life’s offerings, commissions and all and making the best darn creative journey out of it.
If you have similar thoughts on working, working for others or life’s challenges, please feel free to drop your thoughts into the comments below.
PJC Studio Notes: