Finding Joy In Commission Work

Q. I’ve just finished working on a third commissioned painting in the last three months. I think I need a little rest. Do you ever feel that way or do you get more inspired the more you work? I tend to feel more energized when I’m creating “for me,” but not so much when I’m working on a commission. Is it just me?

A. It’s not just you. Commissions are tough because they’re often something that doesn’t interest you in the least. To get the commissioned work done, you have to stop the flow of the work you enjoy doing.

Once in a while, however, someone will request a commission because he/she likes what you’re doing. Since it’s your style and ideas the patron is attracted to, he or she probably won’t ask you to paint something that you normally don’t paint. In this case, a commission isn’t so monotonous, and you can put your heart in it. If only they were all like this!

I’ve stopped doing commissions that I have no feeling for or interest in. They’re just too frustrating, and I refuse to fight and struggle every minute doing a commissioned piece. And believe me, it shows in the painting if my heart’s not in it. There’s no “me” in the painting.

If you must do a commission, however, always charge more for it. Then it will at least be worth your time and the earnest attempt you will put into it.

Loraine Crouch is assistant editor for The Artist’s Magazine.

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