Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008 Commissions

Cathy Hegman
acrylic on canvas

All artists at some point paint commissioned paintings. This is a different animal as compared to going to the studio and painting what is in your mind and heart. A commission can be used to express yourself and your client at the same time. Usually and hopefully, if not always, a client will be familiar with your work and your style and will want you to express that in the commissioned piece. In the majority of commissions that I have painted, the client simply wants it to be personal, this could mean in the hues, subject matter, size, or the content and thought behind the painting. It is exponentially harder to do a commissioned piece than one you are painting to place in a gallery. There is always the thought in your mind during the process that you have guidelines to follow. this can be very limiting if you permit it. The key is to maintain the guidelines but not allow that to cloud your artistic eye. I look at the guidelines as a challenge for my mind to create something that integrates what the client wants and what I feel the painting should express. This opens the door of creativity in your mind and gives you the freedom to paint. Art is all about challenges for your mind and hands, if it were not a challenge we would probably tire of painting all together.

The painting above,"RedBirds",is a recent commission I painted. My client wanted a large painting for her den, to be placed above the fireplace. I made the initial visit and measured the space and determined that we needed a 48 x 48 inch painting. She gave me her guidelines: it was to be somewhat abstract, she and her husband love birds and would like to express the feeling, and it needed to stay in the realm of hues that would complement her home which is predominantly earthtones. Since I have known the client for many years I knew her nickname growing up was "Red Bird", this was my inspiration for the piece. I sent her emails discussing the prospect of using the theme "Red Birds" and she was delighted because it tied her personally to the piece and the redbirds would reflect she and her husband's love of birds. The painting was a delight to paint, as the subject matter of birds is one of my favorite ones to paint.

As a caveat, I would like to mention that when you send emails of your art, you should remember all monitors may not represent the art as it truly appears. It would be wise to print out a copy of the artwork and mail the hardcopy. This will insure that you get a true representation to the client so that they can make any suggestions to you about the work that might warrant changing or tweaking.

At the completion of the painting, I delivered it. It was so rewarding to see the painting placed in its surroundings and to see the joy on the clients face. These are the moments that we are blessed to be able to share.

I believe if we strive to achieve a connection with others through our paintings then our art will have acheived the ultimate goal. Art is not just decoration, although it is great if it matches the sofa, rather it is a means of connectivity, it serves to please the eye and also to comfort the soul.

  1. Visit the Client

  2. Ask to see the area the painting will be placed

  3. Talk to the client about expectations: ask what the he or she would like the piece to communicate, if there are any special requests for subject matter or if they would like a non objective piece, determine the size and colors that they prefer. Get a general feel for the lifestyle and of the client by looking at their surroundings.

  4. The key to the interview is keep the lines of communication as clear as possible.

  5. Discuss price and delivery

  6. Stay in contact with the client while you work on the piece and let them know the progress of the painting, this serves to reassure them and to keep the connection to the painting strong. This can be by email, snail mail, or just phone calls.

  7. If at all possible be there to deliver it and help with the installation. It is very rewarding for you but the client will value your input and help. Afterall, they chose you to paint it for them and they will want to share the experience with you.

All artwork and text posted on this blog are solely owned and copyrighted by Cathy Hegman and should not be reproduced or copied in any form or fashion without the expressed written permission of Cathy Hegman. Anything included in this blog is solely the personal experience and thoughts of the artist and not meant to be anything more than helpful guidelines for others to read.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

How do I come up with subjects to paint?

Something Fishy IV
by Cathy Hegman

This is where the creativity begins. In order to find inspiration I just open my eyes. It is everywhere. Just as an example, take the photo of the river in the previous post. I moved back out to the farm 2 years ago when my youngest son left for college. This move stirs many emotions for me. I feel the isolation of the move from the city to the country, the unknown of what is ahead for me with no more children at home, the physical seperation from my children, etc. The list goes on and on. I look for things around me that can symbolize the emotion I am feeling. The river as a body of water is home to fish of all kinds and other creatures yet it moves constantly. That movement is metaphorical to my life always moving, discovering, growing never static. I like to use animals as symbols and metaphors for events in my life and to mimic my human emotions. The subject that comes to mind in this instance is fish. Aha! now we have the subject to paint, the door is wide open for our interpretation of the subject. When I lived in town I had two fish ponds in my back yard with Koi fish in them. I enjoyed them so much so now they represent joy to me, not to mention I loved drawing and painting them. Their colors were intense and seemed to have been painted on by an artist. I will use the Koi fish as my subject. I like to paint in a series. I usually try to vary some aspect of the painting to make it common to the others in the series yet stand on its own as a painting alone as well. I have a demo on my website ( of the technique I used on these paintings. The painting at the top is the latest in the series "Something Fishy IV",it is acrylic on canvas. I used warm colors to paint the cold blooded fish this is another way to use contrast in your paintings. I find contrast adds a great deal to the meaning behind your paintings. I use my work to communicate emotions and feelings. I very seldom paint totally in representationally or photographically. I admire the technique of the photo realists, but my goal is not to reproduce something I see but to interpret what I feel about the subject.Now to recap the lesson here on finding subject matter or inspiration.
1. look around you.
2. Relate your life to what you see around you at this point in time.
3. Study the emotions that come from this linkage of your surroundings to your emotions.
4. Paint the subject in the way you feel and don't get caught up in the subject itself, but dwell more on the emotion you feel. This will allow you to paint with your heart and hand.Thank you for reading and take care!
All artwork and photography on this blog is solely created and copyrighted by Cathy Hegman and may not be reproduced or used without Cathy Hegman's written permission.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 22, 2008 Day One

Art Right outside my back door, the Big Sunflower River. The rivers here have been at flood stage for some time now. Even in adversity the river is beautiful.

Well a little introduction about my blog. I am an artist, who lives in a very rural area. The isolation is good for painting but bad for interaction with others. I decided to use cyberspace as a link to others. I hope I can give some helpful tips and pass on what I have discovered on my journey in art. I truly believe if we don't share our knowledge with others we have left no lasting mark on this earth. Art is meant to be shared. So please let me know what you think of the blogs I post and ask me questions about art and I will try to answer them to my best ability.