I've started doing a few commissions here and there.
I'm so grateful that people actually want me to paint something for them! But it's interesting how painting something for someone else affects the experience of painting. For me, it causes a lot of anxiety -- what if they don't like the painting? What if they're too polite to say something they don't like? I spend a lot longer and second-guess and doubt every step of the process... I really have to battle to not paint too stiffly. So different compared to when I'm just painting for myself!
I did have fun painting Rocky, above. I'm not a photorealist by any stretch, so when doing any kind of portrait I try to make clear that it's not going to necessarily look exactly like the subject... more of an impression really. I loved the photos of this little dog, who had such a wry and spunky expression. After getting approval for a sketch, I sent the owners a photo of the first draft of the painting... and held my breath for their response. They came back very nicely with how they liked it very much, but, "could you possibly do something a bit more whimsical?" Yes!! I really appreciate that kind of feedback! After that, I loosened up considerably. Happy stripey trees grew up in the background right away. They told me how Rocky really loves his food, so I decided to seat him at the table, where he can see his tasty meal on the way. After painting the table setting, I had a dream of a snail crawling onto the plate, which is interesting because I really never dream about my paintings. I quite like the way it came out.
I painted another pet commission, for a friend whose dog actually caught the butterfly it had been chasing. He didn't have a photo, but he had reference pictures of their dog, who looks a lot like my own little Romeo, and he described the whole incident in hilarious detail. He said it was such a whimsically absurd moment, he thought it looked like something I would paint. Ha! He was right.
I'm open to other absurd and whimsical commissions, the more absurd and whimsical, the better :-)