Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Pet Depot Commission

















So I've let you know every step of my trying to make this art thing a new career.  Here's my first commission through the Pet Supply Store.

The customer read an email from the store and brought her daughter and several photos of the pooches she wanted a painting of.  These dogs [Rocky the Bichon and Louie the Dachshund] were her husband's babies.  She wanted to give him a painting for his birthday on April 4.

She had seen the sample of the Bichon I had displayed at the store and liked the style.

So you see one of three photos she had for me already bless her heart.  The other two were a photo of Rocky without his fluffy fur in his eyes and a closer photo of Louie.  I asked what color background she wanted and she said she really like the blue in my sample.  I told her I would send her a jpeg to make sure I was going in the right direction and another jpeg for the final painting.

I sent her the first image of the painting to make sure the composition was okay.  I sent it a day after we met and she said she thought I was almost finished because she thought I had already captured their personality.

I was unhappy with all that space on the left of Louie so I thought I would break it up with grass and because the customer and her daughter were obviously the masterminds on this I called and asked if it was okay if I painted ladybugs to represent them.  I also asked what kind of toys Rocky and Louie liked to play with so I could fill in some of the open spaces.

They sent me photos through the email of Rocky's lamb, Louie's ball and a toy they played tug-a-war with.  They also asked if I would paint bumble bees to indicate here husband and her son.

The first rendition had bumble bees hovering over Louie's head.  If anyone remembers the Saturday Night Live skit with John Belushi as a rebel bumblebee you would know how silly they looked.  Of course they were not happy with this and I changed it to the final rendition that they were satisfied with.  

I'm sure I brought on most of these snags on myself.  Any advice from seasoned commission artists is truly appreciated.


11x14 oil on gallery wrapped canvas

32 comments:

Edward Burton said...

Very sweet painting, Sheila. Congratulations on the commission!

The Bull said...

Excellent job, I am glad you are perseveering in the face of difficult clients! ;)

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Sheila, Congratulations on getting a commission already. I think you did capture the two puppies well and I like the way you communicated with your clients. Well done.

Cathyann said...

How cool is this?!!!! Great news. Adorable pooches and a lighthearted treatment. Nice!
Love the bumble bee part of the story!!!LOL.

laurens.paint.palette said...

Sheila! How clever of you to market your painting skills this way! Conrats on your first commission through the pet store! This painting is beautimous!

Dean H. said...

Way to go, Sheila! First commission, great painting, satisfied customers!
I really like the concept of commissions via email! That is how I do mine. Have them send workable photos...send them photos of the starting lay in...ask for suggestions...communicate...etc.

Hellenne Vermillion said...

Yay Sheila!

Art with Liz said...

Well done Sheila. These two are sooo cute!

dominique eichi said...

Sheila you did a fabulous job.

Teresa said...

Sheila this is simply adorable! Well done!!!

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Great job Sheila.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

So sweet Sheila! Her husband should be pleased!

Abby Creek Art said...

Great job, Sheila! I love the way you did the background.

sam said...

Hey Sheila well done! I think you have captured both dogs well and you have some lovely expressive brushstrokes on Rocky. Communication is the key and you have gone about it really well.
If you are comfortable doing something like the bees than go for it. You have given them a full service and with the toys and bees something very personal, Im sure they will be delighted:o)

Christine's Arts said...

Great Job Sheila! Sounds like you went about it the right way, communication is key. Almost every job will have its difficulties. You did very well. Love the puppies.

pencilportraits said...

Well done Sheila! Love the cute portrait, hope it's the start of a booming business, I'm so jealous you are even able to try making a career of your art, lucky lucky you

Gwen Bell said...

Congratulations on the commission! And very nice job! You captured the personality of both.

The only advice I have about commissions is to start with a fairly detailed preliminary sketch(which you could do with your eyes closed!) of the composition and then make amendments from there. I've found that if you show anything with paint,unless the person is an artist and understands the process, it's hard for them to see past whatever stage your at. Plus, the sketch is so easy to alter again and again and you haven't really invested a lot of time or materials. After they ok a preliminary I don't show it to them again until I'm ready to do the tweaking. Hope this helps!

Mary Paquet said...

Sheila, you are awesome -- your first commission! As I've only ever done one, I can't offer any advice. Sounds like you are getting some good input from others on how to work with your clients. The final piece is awesome.

Tracey Clarke said...

This is fantastic, Sheila. Hey, we all have those snags. Especially with animal or child portraiture. People have strong feelings about both and rightly so. You worked it out!

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

Isnt this great?
I am soooooooooooooo happy for you.
it pays to be good.
Congratulations my dear friend.

L.Holm said...

Sheila, wonderful!! You really did capture these two cuties to a tee. I love the changes you made to the composition, and adding the toys was a stroke of genius. Congratulations on your success and commission!! Had a good laugh thinking of Belushi in that bee costume!! too funny. hugs! Liz

Manon Doyle said...

Congrats Sheila!! You did a fantastic job!! Yay!

Nina E J said...

this is so cute!

James Parker said...

Super Duper job on your first commission, which will only be the first of many. You know, you should start a second blog for your pet paintings...."Sheila's Poochtraits"

Dana Cooper Fine Art said...

Very, very cute Sheila...congrats on the commission!
Gwen's advise is spot on in my opinion. Customers want a finished looking piece before it is finished,if that makes sense. The 'wow' factor is better too if they haven't seen any of the preliminary stages.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

You've been awarded the "Passion for Painting" award, stop by my blog and pick it up :-)

Sheila said...

thank you for all the wonderful suggestions and support!

My blog friends are the main reason I have felt the ability to venture forth into this new field.

HUGS to ALL!

artbyakiko said...

Congrats on your first commission! This is so cool. I'm so happy for you.
You have done a great job. They are so adorable!

Carrrie Jacobson said...

Sheila, congratulations on your commission! The painting is just wonderful. I think you really got the dogs' expressions, and your fun, whimsical style works just so well.

The one thing I've learned to do with clients is explain to them that things of different sizes, or different distances don't always work together in a painting. One client wanted me to capture the dog's face up close, but also wanted the dog jumping through a hoop. I explained the impossibility (at least for me) of doing both in one painting.

Other than that, I tell them I will paint it and repaint it until they're happy. That's gotten me in trouble on occasion, but generally, it works. I have more energy than they do - and you have more than I do!

Great job!

Pat Burns said...

Great job, Sheila! I do agree with Gwen Bell about showing the client the sketch ... although mine are never very detailed except around the eyes... more to give them the idea of the composition. Great idea to add the toys!
Many thanks for keeping up with my blog!

Spiritartartist said...

Adorable Sheila! :-D

r garriott said...

Sheila, Lovely work on your first commission! If I had any advice it might be... Keep It Simple. For you, and for them. Many people (meaning potential clients) are not visual thinkers and will try and pack the canvas with as many things as they can, thinking they are getting their moneys worth out of you. Over time you will get an idea of what to offer a client that will please both of you, and make the best use of your time, earning you the best fee.

Here's an example from when I was a young designer (in high school, still). The leader of a girls group asked me to design a set of
2" circular badges that would be embroidered (yes, essentially a girl scouts wanna be). One badge was for camping skills. The husband got very excited and wanted to be part of the act, and his idea for the badge (remember, it's 2 inches round) was to have depicted the following: the 25 girls in the group, the 25 horses they rode each day, the 5 tents that they slept in, the river and trees and mountains in the background, the bus five miles down the road, and, oh yes, a campfire set up in the middle (so now it's a night scene) around which 3 specific girls performed a specific skit for the other 22 girls, involving a skillet. Whew! As I recall, I was able to narrow it down to a couple of logs with flames, indicating a campfire.

Another approach to people who want to add additional people, pets, or other elements is to charge a 'per head' price. Or you can work up a price sheet for simple/medium/complex compositions. You might also consider that a head portrait could be a different price than a full body portrait.

Hope this is helpful. I think you could be onto something amazing here!