Category: Teamwork

How does commissioning a painting work?

Have you ever wondered what is involved when commissioning a painting?  Let me take you through the steps of how it works with me.

Step 1: It starts with a simple conversation about what the client is looking for in a painting. This includes the subject matter, size of work, color scheme, and general style and mood.  I like for the clients to look through my current and past artwork to see if there are any particular paintings or color schemes that appeal to them. Price is also discussed.

I visit the location the painting is going to be in, notice the other artwork hanging near it, plus the color of furnishings in the room.  While I don’t believe good art has to match the sofa, there’s no reason it shouldn’t if that’s important to the client.

Step 2:  I show the client several thumbnail sketches of composition ideas to pick from.  These simple visuals help the client discover if they like a dynamic or more soothing mood to their painting.  We discuss and revise the composition as needed

Step 3: I work up a couple of different color schemes using the composition they picked. We discuss them and I take notes on changes to incorporate into the final painting.

By this point, we’ve determined a concept, composition, and color scheme.  Hopefully, everyone is comfortable with the direction of the painting.  This is when I ask them to sign a contract and make a 50% non-refundable deposit.

In the pictures below, the client liked a previously sold painting of mine but wanted one that was bigger and a different color scheme which included an array of pinks.  I used Photoshop to mock up a couple versions to narrow down just how MUCH pink they wanted.


Less pink version
A less pink version
Pink version
A very pink version

Step 4:  About 70% of the way through, I’ll send an update with the image to the client inviting them to review and make comments and suggestions.  At this point, it’s still easy to edit and make adjustments. I do this again at the 95% completion point to let them make any final changes.Step 5: When the painting fully completed, I sign, photograph, and varnish it.  Once dry, it is shipped to its new home with the final invoice.

Communication is key. I encourage it throughout the entire process.  I choose to communicate via email because it gives the client time to review and live with the work without being put on the spot for an immediate response. I’ve also used FaceTime so we could view the painting in real time while making adjustments.

Finding the silver lining in tragedy

Red Cross shelter

Many of you have asked about my parents.  I mentioned in my last newsletter that they were living in a Red Cross shelter waiting to see if their home would survive the California fires.  Unfortunately, it did not. When they were finally allowed to drive up and check almost two weeks later, they found nothing left to salvage.

Not only did they lose their home, their place of security, comfort, and safety, but also all their belongings.  With no time to pack during the immediate evacuation, they left with barely more than the clothes on their backs.  Gone are their photos, their treasured objects, and my mother’s quilts she handmade over decades. To lose your home and all your possessions in your 80’s is a hard thing.

The silver lining during this emergency was the American Red Cross and the Sonoma community. I spoke to my parents almost every day during their evacuation. They were set up in the local high school, sleeping on cots lined up in tight formations. Around them were other evacuees, children, and pets. The shelter had an almost festive mood as the community and Red Cross provided games, meals, nurses, and hairdressers to fill the time and provide support. My parents, who were rather isolated in their home, were able to connect with others, share stories, and pet dogs. Every time I spoke to them, they raved about how nice everyone was and how the community united to support their neighbors (with clothing and toiletry donations), while a local gym opened its doors so people could take showers. Even when they were invited to stay at a friend’s home, they chose to stay at the shelter.

They are now at a crossroads.  Do they rebuild which could take years?  Or move to live near me or my brother?  Perhaps they look for a senior community to replicate the social aspect they enjoyed during the evacuation?  I hope they reflect on how they enjoyed being part of a community these past two weeks when determining their next step. I’ll let you know.

The Red Cross made a very difficult situation so much better for my parents.  Won’t you please donate to the American Red Cross?

Be part of the BIG PICTURE

The Big picture

Join me to be part of a 72-foot long collaborative artwork.  The Big Picture is a collective art project where people around the world (that includes us) are collaborating to create a big mosaic picture from thousands of drawings.

This project can be seen as a giant conversation taking place between all the participants through a dynamic and monumental artwork.  See how you can contribute a simple sketch or drawing to be a part of this big panoramic picture. The final picture will be over 6 feet tall and 72 feet long.

What will the project look like?
They are building a big panoramic picture from thousands of little squares that you can design at home and upload on this website. One of the many exciting parts of this project is that you will be able to see a close-up of your art and zoom out to see how it fits as a part of the whole, a poetic metaphor of our interconnected existences. You will also be able to see all the individual art squares that are making up the picture and their individual design, who designed them, in what country they were living and also what the drawing is representing for the artist who made it.

How to participate:
Participation is free and open to anyone from everywhere in the world.
Look here for more details about making and sending in your work.
Please share this opportunity with your friends and family too so they can join in the fun.

I don’t know how to draw!
This project accessible to everyone and with a little bit of help everyone can draw. Look at this page to get ideas about how to participate in the project.  They are more interested in your life journey and locations than your skills as a drawer. You will have the opportunity to share a text with your drawing and explain what you represented.

What is going to happen with the project?
Once the project is completed, we will be looking at exhibiting it in art galleries or museums.

  • Once the project is completed, we will be looking at exhibiting it in art galleries or museums .
  • Monthly prizes by their sponsors to the most interesting contributions.
  • They will publish books with a selection of contributions.
  • Unique opportunity to share the life stories that are important to you with a wide audience

This project originated in Canada and is led by Sandrine Pelisier (visual artist) in collaboration with Sophie Babeanu (Art Therapist).

Be a part of something big!

Using Teamwork to Guarantee Success

I was a spectator at the “Tough Mudder” today in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Labeled as “probably the toughest event on the planet”, Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.  Additionally, these challenge events have raised more than $3 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.


Photo (used with permission) by Dmitry Gudkov

The Tough Mudder website says, “To get through mud, fire, ice-water, and 10,000 volts of electricity, you’ll need teammates to pick you up when your spirits dip.  To get over 12 foot-walls and through underground mud tunnels, you’ll need teammates to give you a boost and a push.  Tough Mudders are team players who make sure no one gets left behind.”  In fact, they make all competitors sign this pledge that stresses teamwork, camaraderie, and helping their fellow Mudders over individual success.  I couldn’t help but think how important this type of attitude is in promoting success in any endeavor.  This is particularly true in the often isolated life of an artist.

I recently rented a studio in Reis Studios in Long Island City.  The building is filled with floors of other artists’ studios, with each artist working independently on their own projects.  However, once a year, LIC Arts Open Festival organizes a community wide event with over 200 open studios, painting sculpture, music, dance, theater, a charity audition and more.  This collaboration of arts entities, businesses and individuals gather together to spotlight the diverse artistic community in LIC.  Like the Tough Mudder, it is the teamwork and camaraderie of all these people who create a successful event that works together to benefit the whole.

What goals would you like to accomplish?  How can you work together with other “teammates” to help you realize this goal while benefiting everyone in the group?  I would love to hear your ideas.