THE ANGST OF A COMMISSIONED PORTRAIT 

I’m dealing with the rejection of the portrait I’ve been working on the past week. I showed the client the way I have been progressing with bringing out a spiritual feeling for the woman in the portrait. She committed suicide a few weeks ago. It is a very sad story but I want the portrait to show how much she gave to others. 

So here’s how it goes. The client looks disappointed. I know it doesn’t really look like her. I’m working with a 1″photo on a Mass card. Its just a sketch. I tell him that I am not a photorealist painter. Now he says he wants the picture to look like her. He graciously says it will be alright if I don’t do it.   Arrow in the heart. My Mind:  you are a failure in this. Every great painting goes out the door. YOU ARE A TERRIBLE ARTIST!!! 

Then I start to go into compulsive need to prove.  But I hear a voice in my head saying WAIT. If he’s looking for a realistic portrait I’m not the artist for him. I have sold a lot of portraits and the buyers loved them. My potraits are special because I paint the person I feel. MAYBE I’M REALLY GOOD!!!
Rejection is not about me. People are allowed to ask for what they want. If I can’t do I must tell the truth. I don’t have to be winning all the time. Put the ego to bed. I may not be able to get it right for him. 

Rejection can take you down.  I was asked to draw a baby portrait. I spent all night on it. The grandmother looked at it with disgust. She threw it at me. She was nasty anyway. 

I don’t do commissioned portraits anymore. The present one is for a friend. Even friends can reject our art. The fact is people should just take a good portrait with a camera. Or look for an artist skilled in realism. But you will not get the beauty of their spirit.  

 

3 thoughts on “THE ANGST OF A COMMISSIONED PORTRAIT 

  1. Great post! It’s so hard when people want you to do a piece thats totally not in your style. I have had people ask me to do realistic baby portraits when my work is mainly pop art style animals. It’s not even that you can’t do it differently it just why would you. If you are trying to grow your brand and style as an artists spending your time creating works that don’t represent you doesn’t really help.

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  2. I think this is very difficult for the artist, as Mrsartistmrwriter says, above. People assume that because you can draw or paint you can, or would want to, draw or paint in any style. The artist, Emily Ball (http://emilyball.net/galleries/heads-and-their-gaze-2/) is very good about this in her book on portraits. I think it’s probably important before starting a commission to show the client examples of your work and say, ‘It will look like this, in this style, not like a photograph’ otherwise it isn’t fair on you.

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  3. I agree with you Certainline and love the link you sent. Doing something to please people in art doesn’t work. You can’t change how you see and paint something. A good artist puts their personality into their art. Artists who paint realism can’t do that. People don’t understand the process of creating art. So I am making a point that based on this last experience I will not do that again. It’s a lot of work with no appreciation .

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