Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Commissions and Creativity

Last night I received an email from an art patron who had seen my work in a holiday small works show. He asked me if I had another lupine painting that would be a similar match with one of my pieces in the show, he was thinking of purchasing a pair as a holiday gift. My December plan had been to take a short break from painting new work but his email request had me back in the zone and I spent the day painting.

"Lupine Sunset"


Both of these paintings are new versions of similarly painted small works, each is 2.5 x 3.5, and will be floated on 6 x 6 watercolor paper with foam core, then signed with my chop stamp signature and placed in a 10 x 10 black frame. I decided that even if this patron is not interested in these new works they are still very salable ($105 framed). This leads me into my next thought...

Making salable art vs. making art that pushes personal boundaries.

Over the summer when I attended an encaustic workshop taught by Laura Moriarty, I focused on pushing myself into learning more abstract encaustic techniques. I discussed with the other artists in the workshop how I had always been able to sell the safer, more traditional landscape paintings but that my heart wanted to explore outside of my comfort zone. At that time, I made a conscious decision to continue to create these small landscapes because of their salability but that I would also pursue a more abstract art form (Outback Series) using newly learned encaustic techniques.

I am just now starting to show the abstracts I created since July, the jury is still out on the success and acceptance of these new works. I may add some smaller abstract pieces to my Etsy shop, soon.

What do you think, is it better to make more salable main stream art? or is pushing boundaries, exploring new art forms, (and possibly failing), a more professional direction? I ask myself this question all the time and still don't have the answer.


  1. Both are beautiful pieces Robin!
    I have asked this question myself many times.I think that there should be a good balance between creating salable art and art that pushes us out to learn more.The first option keeps us motivated to create more and the second one feeds our passion :-)

  2. To my mind, the answer comes down to why you make your art in the first place. Is it for your own needs and gratification? Or is it to please others? The answer to that would probably guide you. For me personally, I really do not like abstract art. Occasionally I see a piece here or there that I like but I wouldn't buy abstract art. I like representational or realistic art. For me, the goal isn't to sell. That said, I'd be over the moon if someone asked me if they could buy something.

  3. The two paintings will be gorgeous sharing a wall space in your client's home. That's wonderful that he has asked you to do that. I am currently struggling with the inner conflict of whether I make art to sell, or make art that pleases myself and my need for expression through my artwork. When I approach a project with the idea that this one is just for me and I don't care what anybody else thinks... the project usually turns out better than if I had purposely planned it and tried to make something to please a potential buyer.

  4. padmaja - you hit the nail on the head by pointing out how important it is to feed our passion - and balance is always the key to happiness.

    Sherry - you also hit the nail on the head when asking why make art - I do it as a profession (and way to earn income) but also feel it is my passion to express what words can't convey via visual tools and that is the part of the equation that has me constantly challenging what I do.

    Asking these artistic questions are as personal as our DNA and there is no wrong answer. Welcome to my world of not having answers!

  5. Katherine, there really is a fine line between wanting to sell and wanting to grow as an artist. You sound like me, and I think these questions we ask ourselves are what contribute to the bigger picture of personal successes.

  6. Here I go again, expressing my artistic thoughts.
    I do feel that the abstract has your own artistic code that no other person or artist can decide on what the meaning is, so therefore that may be why you have chosen what I would call the artist safety zone. I absolutely do feel that many more people will choose that safety zone because they can identify with the painting. Also, no other artist can tell you what to do except yourself, follow what your heart tells you, because you as an artist only knows.

  7. These are beautiful, Robin--I think your customer will love them. Making salable art or pushing boundaries--if it gets you into the zone, you're doing the right thing.

  8. I echo Hallie's comment- she put it so well. I think there is a place for both and I suspect your pushing boundaries art will find it's place as well.
    These two pieces are just gorgeous. I love all the work you do.
    No rest for the talented!!!

  9. Hallie always finds a way of making sense out of chaos, thanks for your supportive endorsement too, Pam.