Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008 Commissions

RedBirds
by
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.

4 comments:

LaLa said...

I really like the painting!!!

Cathy Hegman said...

Thank you! I thought it really worked well for her!

Thomas said...

Nice painting, is that the one for Cornelia and Richard. Also nice guidelines to follow... me being the emminent artist and all =P

Cudi Bug said...

Cathy, I love the "red birds" painting.....beautiful. I love cardinals and you really gave them nice crowns.....you're so talented.