Painting On Demand

Over the years I've painted many commissions, and most of them have turned out successfully.  Often someone will like a painting that's already been sold, or want one in a different size or colors, and so forth.  I make it clear there will not be any duplicates because my abstract painting style is improvisational.  There is no way I can duplicate any of it.  What I can do is paint in a similar style and colors.

Here is an original painting called Open Focus:

 Open Focus

Open Focus

And here is the commissioned painting made in a similar style and colors:

 Commissioned Painting

Commissioned Painting

Still, painting commissions is not my favorite thing.  The pressure to achieve a particular result creates a barrier to the free exploration I like to use in the painting process. It is rare when I like the commissioned painting better than the original. 

One time a client sent me a photograph of their hotel and its surroundings.  In this case I made two paintings--one more realistic and one abstract in my usual style.  Of course they preferred the abstract--that's why they hired me, after all, and not a realistic painter.  But in a way, I needed to do the realistic version in order to get to the abstract one. 

What doesn't work for me at all is when a gallery or dealer suggests something totally new rather than a version of what I'm already doing.  These paintings often come out stilted and lifeless.  It would have been better to save my materials and time. 

Periodically I say I will never paint another commission. But then someone really wants me to do one, and I start to see it as a challenge.  Sometimes painting a commission of a painting I've done years ago reminds me of what it was about that particular style that interested me.  I get re-interested and end up exploring it further. 

So, while painting on demand is not my favorite thing, I guess I won't shut the door on it altogether.