Category Archives: Uncategorized

And then the cavalry arrived

The sticks ready to be processed.

As I have mentioned previously, we rely on wood heat to keep our house warm in the winter.  Yes, we have a gas furnace but that has a price.  The wood heat is free….mostly.  Oh, there’s your labor involved and the wood requires a lot of handling. A lot. 

The guys were experienced and jumped right into work.

Southern Indiana is hilly with plenty of hardwood forests. People often selectively timber their property.  That is when individual trees are cut.  The logger only takes the primary eight foot log (sometimes more than one per tree).  He leaves the limbs and tops for the landowner.  This is where our firewood mostly comes from.  Saturday mornings are spent in the woods, cutting, dragging, chopping, splitting, moving the wood from one place to another.  A lot of handling.

Last winter my husband bought some “sticks” from the neighboring logger.  The wood was good but maybe it was twisted, the wrong type, whatever.  They delivered it and it’s been sitting there awaiting attention.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in an earlier blog, he had a serious health issue this year and can’t handle the wood as he was used to.  Which led to plenty of fretting on his part.

So, as I was reading the paper a couple of weeks ago, I saw an article about the local seminary who was looking for families who heat with wood for their annual Project Warm.  This is where the seminarians acquire wood from people who donate it off their property, maybe previously timbered, chop and deliver it to families in need.  So I suggested to my husband that he give them a call and explain the situation.  That he had the wood but just needed some help processing it.

After a few phone calls, they agreed that this would be a relatively easy project for them and came out this week.  Wow, what a beehive of activity!

The crew. Such a wonderful bunch of guys and so hard working. (Husband is the guy in blue in the middle.)

Since the guys were experienced in the process, they were able to go right to work.  We have a log splitter and all the logs were staged in one area.  They just had to saw the logs into the right stove lengths, then split them.  Some used the splitter but most of the young men chopped the wood by hand with mauls.  It was like a well-oiled machine.  Some were sawyers cutting the wood, some were splitting the wood with mauls and one operated the machine splitter.  It is easy to spot someone who has been swinging a maul for years as there is a certain rhythm to it.  It’s not a chopping motion.  And this was hard wood, almost all hickory, one of the heaviest and densest woods, but which provides the most warmth. At least two of the young men grew up on farms in New England where they were accustomed to handling wood for home heating.

The final results. A whole lot of firewood to heat the house this winter.

The guys turned those logs into piles of wood ready to keep us toasty this winter.

Taking a well-deserved break after a couple of hours of real hard work

Of course, we fed them as is our custom in this part of the world.  Trays of homemade Italian pizza, pumpkin spice muffins, fruit, snacks and drinks.  It was a pleasant afternoon for us as I hope it was for them. We so enjoyed visiting with these young men and learning more about their backgrounds and fellowship.  What a wonderful day. The guys are from St. Meinrad Seminary, right down the road from us.  Project Warm has been one of their community missions for over forty years.  Although we just learned of the program this year, I can’t tell you how much we appreciated the help.

Our son came by the following morning to move the wood into piles. This makes it easy to tarp the piles, keeping it dry before it is moved into the house.

Learn more about Project Warm here. https://www.saintmeinrad.org/news?story=13467

Hunter’s moon

Last night I sat outside with the chill falling, enjoying the flames in the firepit.  I think we had a frost but it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. 

The Hunter Moon rising, October 9th.

Tonight I stood outside for awhile to wait for the rise of the Hunter’s moon over the ridge.  As dusk was falling and the dog and I were waiting, a soft shadow drifted into the bean field.  A deer.  One of many nearby.  The dog, of course, took off.  Just the love of the chase, I expect.  I don’t know what he would do if he caught one but there’s really no danger of that.  The deer glided across the field in leaping arcs.  He’ll be back.

Plein air painting with a friend down by the river earlier this week. It was so peaceful.
I’ve painted this scene several times, in many seasons. The tall maples and reddish dogwood set off the white house and the clear blue sky. So brilliant.
The dogwood backlit by the afternoon sun. My granddaughter says it looks like stained glass.

I try to get outdoors as much as I can this time of year.  Took the grandkids to paint pumpkins at the local art fair yesterday.  Went plein air painting down at the river with a friend earlier this week.  But even a walk through the woods with the dog are pure pleasure.  The squirrels sure aren’t leaving many hickory nuts and the walnut harvest is paltry compared to last year.  Never mind.  Plenty for all.

Purple ironweed looks brilliant and healthy this late in the season. It contrasts nicely with the beanfield in the background. It was actually covered with straggler butterflies a week ago.
Surrounded by fall colors which seem to have changed overnight, at least the past two weeks.

We had a bit of a drought earlier this summer but with some rain. Crops around here are abundant.  The farmers are scurrying to get it all in before the next big rain but I think they’ll be alright.  None predicted for awhile.

Anyway, I hope you can get outdoors to enjoy the crispy fall air.  I’ve painted nearly everything in the area throughout the seasons, particularly autumn.  But I guess that you’ll see more seasonal work as the months go by.  It never bores me. I find the rhythms of the seasons comforting.  I hope that you are able to enjoy some natural beauty in your area, too.

A beautiful sunrise over Lake Patoka. Photo courtesy of my friend Joan M. who lives nearby.

The oldest house

Farmhouse with Red Maple

I have mentioned several times over the history of this blog how rural and sparsely populated this area is.  In fact, until just last year, we were the only county in the state that didn’t even have a stoplight…and we were proud of it.

But times change. 

This was brought home to me last week as I pulled out of our driveway and drove down our short road.  I noticed a new house being built.  Well, I knew it was being built; it’s a former neighbor who is moving back to the area.  We’re happy as they were good neighbors. 

This set me to thinking about all the new houses that have cropped up since we moved here over 35 years ago.  At that time there were only six houses on the whole two and a half mile road.  Now there are twelve.  Yeah, I know, not many but still doubled. 

This led me to reflect upon which house was the oldest house.  And…it’s OURS! 

When we bought this house at auction (that is a lot of money to spend at the drop of a hammer), it was in the position where it could have been rented out and run into the ground in about ten years, or someone could put some money into it and fix it up.  We chose to do the latter.  We had been looking for a place such as this for over a year.  We could either find a house in the country with no property, or property with no house.  Despite what the Hallmark channel would have you believe, it’s difficult to find a nice old home in the country.  Still a desirable goal but increasingly scarce.

The road out front was gravel (since paved).  We do have city water but it had only been in for about three months which is probably why there wasn’t too much competition for the home (few people knew about the city water which would have made the property more valuable.)  It’s also only a few miles from the state’s largest natural recreation area, a desirable place.  But it’s the setting that everyone always comments on as they drive up.  The house sits in the middle of the property.  We found a cornerstone that dates it to 1883 but I think it’s probably about forty years older.  Probably an original land grant, several of which we saw when we were in the market. 

The front of the house is log with layers of clapboard, insulation, and siding on the outside, and lath and plaster, new drywall inside.  The walls are about a foot thick which makes for a very quiet home.  I’ll regale you with all our adventures in remodeling a house this old some other time.

I’ve often reflected on why someone would build a house in the middle of the property rather than on the road with easier access.  The road used to kick up lots of dust but this was before automobiles.  Probably because the house site is flat with several close water sources – creeks, dug wells, springs, etc.  I have also noticed over the years that we found many pottery shards and Indian artifacts, chips, etc.  This may have been a dwelling site long before the country was settled.  The attraction of water sources, abundant wildlife, a large river a few miles away would have been the same for native Americans as they were for settlers.

This also led me to reflect on the house numbering system.  (I had a lot of time to think on the drive that morning.)  There are some places in Japan where the house numbering system is based on the age of the dwelling.  The first house on the block is number 1, the second house on the block is number 2, etc.  That is totally confusing for a person who was raised in the Midwest where roads are laid out in grids, usually of a mile.  How does anyone find a house in the Japanese system?  Do people go around and around the block until they spot the desired number? 

I am not an historian but I do enjoy learning how a community or area got settled.  It reminds me of Pete Hammill’s book Downtown: My Manhattan, Harriette Simpson Arnow’s Flowering of the Cumberland, and other similar stories.  Who came first?  What was it like then?  Why was this area selected? I’m sure that your local library, county museum, or historical society can direct you to information on the settling of your own locale.

Anyway, these are some random thoughts I had on a little trip to town the other day.    

Be prepared

Brutus, the old farm truck. A family member for over three decades.

I have been working all week on a couple of ideas for my Sunday blog post.  Although I don’t usually write it until the end of the week, I give some thought as to subject matter, finding or taking photos, etc.  This week’s post was going to be about books. 

However, life had other plans.

I was in my studio early this morning, packing a painting to ship today.  My husband and son were outside installing a new battery into old Brutus.  (See former posting here.)  It was a sunny and blessedly cool morning so I had the door to my studio open while I was working. 

Suddenly, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.  I glanced outside and saw a fire beneath old Brutus.  AAAAaaaggggghhhhh!  (And my car was parked right next to the truck.)

I shouted to my son who came running, handed him the fire extinguisher that I keep handy in the studio, and he ran off with it.  Well, two more extinguishers later, the fire was out. The outdoor faucets and hydrants are too far from where the truck was parked to have been any help.

We’re not sure yet what started the fire – maybe an electrical short, maybe a fuel leak, or even a mouse nest in the air cleaner.  We’ll have a mechanic friend stop by next week to give us an assessment. Fortunately we were prepared or it might have been a very different story. 

Although we live in a remote area which is our reasoning for having some home fire protection, I would urge everyone to have a few fire extinguishers on hand.  You just never know what kind of emergency you might encounter. 

I’m not qualified to advise what types of extinguishers to get but there are several varieties for the many kinds of possible fires – paper, wood, chemical, oil, grease, etc.   Check online or with your local dealer or hardware store to see what they advise. 

You don’t know when you will need one.  Or wish you had been prepared. 

The rest of the story

Here are some photos of poor Brutus after the fire incident. As I said, we don’t know what type of fire it was. This is the damage.

To outward appearances, Brutus still looks pretty good….for a 37 y/o truck.
On closer look, the hood is scorched. That white powder is from one of the fire extinguishers.
Ah, here’s the damage. What was burned and melted? We’ll find out this week.
One of the small fire extinguishers. This one is a C rating, meaning it will handle three kinds of fire/flames.

Writing a personal narrative

I can’t draw a straight line.

I’m not good at math.

Science always confused me.

Mom liked my brother best.

We were poor growing up so I don’t know how to handle money.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?  What is your personal narrative?  What stories do you tell yourself….or worse yet, allow others to say about you that may not be true? 

I was having a conversation with someone the other day that I’ve known for years but whom I rarely hang out with much since we left school.  He made a remark about how I am shy or some such.  I let it slide but it suddenly dawned on me that he doesn’t know me at all.  Where did he come up with this story and, more importantly, why do I allow someone else write my personal narrative for me? 

I haven’t been shy since I hid behind the door when I was a toddler.  In fact, I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t fear public speaking at all.  I ran for office in school, worked for one of the world’s largest companies, have given numerous presentations on stage, in groups, on TV and radio. Nope, no butterflies.

This led me to ponder what other narratives do I allow people to attach to me?  Or do I tell myself? 

What stories do you tell yourself?  Were you known as the smart sibling?  Or the trouble-maker?  The hard worker or the messy one?  Sometimes we tell stories on ourselves or allow other people to define us.  Maybe we were never like that.  Maybe we tripped once, but are we really a klutz? 

So, what should we do if someone starts telling our personal narrative for us?  First, I think it’s appropriate to spend a little time thinking about those boxes that people have put us in, and be ready to stop the narrative.  You don’t have to jump all over the person – maybe they’re just trying to find some common ground – but be ready to explain that you’re not really like that.  That you haven’t run into a door since you were sixteen.  But also, don’t let them argue with you.  Maybe they’re more comfortable when they have you in that box even if it isn’t true.  Just shrug and smile.  Or give them a good long stare.  They’ll get the hint.

And then give some thought as to how you would like to be perceived.  Maybe you’ve changed over the past twenty or forty years.  You don’t have to keep living someone else’s narrative of you.  This is your own life and you are the author of your own story.

Meeting famous people

It’s been five years since I retired as Director of Jasper Community Arts Commission.  JCAC is the only city-owned arts department in the state and one of the few in the country.  It was started by a group of private citizens in the small town, then later turned over to the city.  Although initially it was just a performing arts venue, eventually it came to encompass visual arts, arts in education, special events and so much more.  Now, of course, they’ve expanded to the new Thyen-Clark Cultural Center which is way beyond anything anyone envisioned at the time the performing arts center was created.

The performing arts are still a major focus of the arts department.  With an auditorium which seats 675, we’ve hosted a number of performances over the years.  During my tenure as Director, we presented about a dozen performances a year so I had the great pleasure of meeting a variety of entertainers over the years.

I’ve often been asked who was my favorite which is truly an impossible question to answer.  We presented singers and musicians, dancers and comedians, actors, jugglers, and acrobats.  It was all good.  Well, mostly. But we won’t talk about that.  Obviously, a small Midwest performing arts center cannot afford top Vegas headliners. But we had a wonderful variety of quality entertainers.

So, I thought you might like to hear about a few of my favorites.  Not all, by any means, but there were still some memorable performances.

The first one was Marie Osmond.  This was right after I was promoted to Director.  Tickets had just gone on sale and the phones were ringing off the hook.  Marie was just starting to revive her career.  On the day of the performance, the tour bus showed up and everyone disembarked.  I don’t remember very much about the actual performance since much of my time was behind the scenes.  Marie did two shows for us that day which was our way of doubling our capacity.  She was not feeling well at all and had a very bad cold.  But like the real trouper that she was, she went on stage and gave the audience a show to remember for years.  She sang a mix of her pop standards, but then she gave us a variety of Broadway tunes.  It was perfect.  The audience was blown away.  Such a nice person and so professional.

Another favorite performance was Always…Patsy Cline.  We were having trouble right down to the wire of determining if the show was going to go or not as the Broadway management hadn’t returned the final contract.  Fortunately, through the perseverance of the wonderful agent I worked with, the show went on.  I cannot remember the name of the actor who played Patsy in this performance but she was super talented.  She was a little, tiny thing but belted out over 25 songs during the performance.  But one of the memorable moments is that Louise, the woman who was Patsy’s pen pal, was played by Sally Struthers.  So nice and down to earth.  Quick to laugh and just had a kind word for everyone. 

As an aside, I quickly learned that the biggest stars were often the best to work with.  Undemanding, kind, thoughtful of the staff and crew.  The performers that we had the most trouble with were those who were just getting started with their careers and kept trying to impress us with their star status.  We were not impressed.

Due to our location in south central Indiana, we are on the way to or from many major cities in the Midwest.  We are only about three hours from Nashville so we were able to present quite a number of county music stars.  Many enjoyed the smaller venue, plus they could sleep in their own beds at the end of the evening.  Some names you might recognize are Clint Black, Ronnie Milsap, Kathy Mattea, Lee Greenwood, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Sandi Patty and so many more.

One of my favorites was the Time Jumpers with Vince Gill.  This group is comprised of a bunch of Nashville musicians who get together for weekly jams.  Vince often sat in on the jam sessions (he has since left the group).  He was very conscious about not making the performance all about him, and all of the other musicians were extremely talented, too.  When we were negotiating the contract, I asked what they wanted to eat.  They said just some beans and hamburgers would be fine.  I replied that we could do better than that.  We ended up serving fried catfish and creek fries.  They loved it!  So happy not to have to worry about leftovers. Vince was kind enough to pose for this photo with one of my staff members and me.  We usually avoided putting performers on the spot since they were here doing a job, so this was an exception.

Vince Gill posing with staff member Emily Colucci-Peake and me, Kit Miracle

Speaking of food.  I quickly learned that all the dance and acrobat troupes ate like linebackers.  Usually after the performances, not before.  They expend so much energy during their performances and are such terrific athletes.  We presented the Russian National Ballet twice.  I wasn’t sure how our town would respond to Swan Lake but it was a sold-out house and you could have heard a pin drop.  We could count on every scrap of food disappearing at the end of the evening.

There were so many other wonderful performances that bring a smile to my face when I think about them.  The Blues Brothers, Under the Streetlamp, Women of Ireland, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Diamonds and Glenn Miller Orchestra, Richie Havens, Leon Redbone, The Ahn Trio, The Texas Tenors, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Tommy Emmanuel, Jim Brickman and more. 

Over 132 performances during my time there.  I was so very lucky to have this experience.  I have truly missed live performances during the pandemic shutdown but I think we’re all ready to come out of our nests.  If you have a performance venue nearby, I hope you can get out and enjoy the experience. 

Jasper Community Arts

Compositional framing

There are many rules and ideas for composition.  No one idea is perfect for all situations.  You may have your favorites or you may like to try new ideas frequently.  Today I’m going to discuss the idea of framing.  I’m not talking about the frame of the painting but using framing as a composition device.

Plein Air Painting, Birdseye, Indiana

I most often use framing in landscapes, cityscapes, and sometimes interiors.  This means that I’ll often place a large tree or bush near the front of the picture frame, usually on one side or another, with the main view in the middle distance.  This leads the viewer’s eye into the painting and directs its focus.

Sometimes in cityscapes, the view might be between two buildings or down an alley. 

In a recent couple of paintings of the same subject – a child flying a toy airplane at the park – I first explored just the child and the plane.  In the second painting, I used the framing composition to lead the eye from the near subject matter, to the large tree on the left, to the child and plane in the background.

In another couple of paintings, I painted a straight view of a Grand Canyon vista.  The second landscape shows the Grand Canyon framed by tree in the front.

Here is an interior view using compositional framing.  The doorway, chair and plant, lead the eye through the doorway to the desk in the distance.

There are no hard rules on when to use compositional framing.  It’s mostly a matter of what you feel comfortable with, what helps your painting.  I’ll often do several thumbnails or even larger charcoal drawings to test the feel of the subject. 

Some idle Tuesday

Don’t worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying
Is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum
The real troubles in your life
Are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you

                Baz Luhrmann,  Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

I thought about titling this post Life Happens but the lyrics from Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) kept rolling through my mind.  Although normally I’m pretty regular at posting, the past two months I’ve only been able to post a couple of times.  Life happened.

One day I spent plein air painting with a friend.  The next day saw my husband being transported by ambulance to a big city hospital some distance away.  The next four weeks were a blur.  Surgery.  ICU.  Tubes and drips and ventilators.  Me making daily round trips of 150 miles.  I memorized the mile markers, counting down the miles each way.  Testing the speed limits.  Crossing time zones and arriving at the same time I left, or two hours behind on the return trip.

I think I lived on trail mix on those drives.  Listened to some recorded books.  Mostly thought about…whatever.

This spring was beautiful and all the flowering trees and plants were trying to cheer me.  But it is also one of the busiest times here on the farm.  The garden, which fortunately had been plowed and tilled, only got planted with the aid of my granddaughter.  My son came by to mow the grass – it’s a huge yard.  But everything else had to wait.  Trimming, weeding, recordkeeping, cleaning, etc.  There are just so many hours in the day.

I did manage to finish a couple of commissions which helped keep the crazy thoughts at bay.  But no real creative work of my own.  It’s all about priorities.

My husband has been home for about a month.  He’s recovering nicely but still has a way to go.  No marathons in his future.  And he probably won’t be cutting firewood this year which is just fine with me.  It’s messy and dusty.

I don’t think there is really any way you can plan for an unexpected life-altering event. I think about this every time I see some sort of tragedy on the news; people who left their homes in the morning and then…some idle Tuesday arrived.  Friends have been so kind and understanding.  In the Midwest, people bring food.  The neighbor will take your trash to the dump.  Small thoughtful gestures.

We’re both doing much better now and some semblance of normalcy is creeping back into our lives.  I’ve been painting more.  Although I have written off the garden this year (now we’re experiencing a drought) but I did get my first little tomato yesterday.  Small blessings.

Hug those you love and be kind to those who are going through difficult times.  Someday you may need some strength and comfort, too.  Probably. 

Plein air painting in autumn

The Big Rock, East Fork White River. These large sandstone rocks line the river and bluffs. The autumn colors set off the scene. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16.

October started out pretty warm with temperatures in the 80s.  However, with November’s arrival, the past week or so, we’ve had some heavy frosts and night temps have dropped to the 20s.  Daytime still warms up to the 50s and 60s.  This is a perfect time to do some plein air painting.  The garden has been cleaned out and outdoor work has slowed.

Last Monday I picked up my friend Bill Whorrall to go out and do some work.  Southern Indiana is so beautiful this time of year with the fall colors and hilly terrain.  We decided to paint along the East Fork of the White River near Shoals.  We checked out several spots but eventually landed at the nature preserve Bluffs at Beaver Bend.  You can only drive a short way in, then hike along the path with the river on your right and the sandstone bluffs on your left.  So many picturesque scenes to paint. 

I decided to paint this big rock with the river behind it.  Bill traveled a little farther up the path to capture the sandstone cliffs in some ink sketches. We saw an eagle traveling along the river but unfortunately didn’t get any photos.

It was so peaceful there but not as isolated as we had thought it would be on a Monday morning.  Several groups of hikers including a few guys from Chicago.  They said they always try to get away together this time of year and go someplace within a day’s drive.

We worked for a few hours and then the wind picked up and we began to get chilled.  I got about 75% of my painting done and then finished it up at home.  I dropped Bill off at his house where his wife Karen had made a vegetable cheese soup, sandwiches and dessert for lunch.  I think we welcomed the warmth of the soup as much as the food.

Afterwards we toured Karen’s extensive garden which was still producing raspberries and some other goodies.

Then for a lovely ride home through the autumn colors.

A walk in the woods. This is the complete plein air painting that I showcased last week. Just some autumn trees and interesting shadows with a path leading up into the big woods. Acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14.
Charles House, Richmond, Indiana. Charles House is actually the building on the left side. This location is actually behind the beautiful rose garden on the edge of Glen Miller park in Richmond. I think the little cottage might have actually been a summer kitchen at one time. A very peaceful autumn scene. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16.

Commissioned artwork

A recent commission. The customer wanted to feature a bit of the courthouse square, change the season so the weeping cherry tree was in blossom, and tidy up the flowers. It’s still in my style but I didn’t mind making these adjustments. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36.

If you have been an artist for any length of time, you have probably been asked to create something especially for someone.  Maybe a friend or a relative, someone special.  It is always difficult to decide if that is really what you want to do.  Here are some concerns for you to think about.

1.  What is a commission?  This is basically when someone asks you to create something special for them.  Frankly, commissioned artwork was the norm until a few hundred years ago.  Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.  At that time, the artist was primarily a sculptor and didn’t want to do the job but was persuaded  one way or another. That turned out well.

2.  Know your style and what you are comfortable doing.  If you have been an artist for any length of time, eventually someone will ask you to make something for them that just doesn’t fit your comfort zone.  Maybe they want you to copy another artist, or perhaps paint an abstract painting when you paint only in a realistic style.

To be totally honest, I was asked early on in my career to copy another artist’s painting and just was not comfortable with it.  Although I eventually I complied (it was a relative), it never sat well with me and I haven’t done it since.  Be true to yourself.

3.  Don’t compromise.  This hooks in with the paragraph above.  Know your style and stick with it.  If the client wants something different, you may just have to pass on the job. It always helps if you can steer them towards someone else who can help them.

4. Take notes.  I have several notebooks which I have filled over the years with notes for commissions.  Obviously, the client’s contact information, but more details about what they want.  You might even have a list of questions before you meet.  For instance, size, materials, deadlines are obvious.  Less obvious are what they want in the commission and what they don’t. 

5.  Come to an agreement.  If you really want a formal agreement, you may need to draw up a contract.  I don’t usually do this but it is a good way to cover yourself should any misunderstandings occur later.  Are they agreeing to your style?  Will you submit sketches or mockups?  When do they want the final? 

6.  Arriving at a price and getting a down payment.  You should do a little research ahead of your meeting or perhaps you will have to get back with the client later.  Remember to include your materials, time, driving time or shipping.  Condition for submitting the final product.  Don’t forget your overhead. And don’t be afraid to ask what you deserve.  Do some research for your area and medium.  What are other artists charging for similar commissions with a similar level of skills and background?

7.  Ask about a deadline.  Is the commission for a special event or doesn’t the client really care when you complete it?  I really like to get the commissions done and off my plate.  If there is a deadline, do you have time to meet it?  Is it around the holidays when everyone else is clamoring for work that must be done yesterday? 

8.  A commission is work for hire.  Get comfortable with that idea or don’t accept the commission.  Maybe you’ll be excited by the first few commissions you have, but perhaps by the 100th, you’ll be so tired of doing them.  Raise your prices!  I did house portraits for many years until I became annoyed with them interfering with the work I was really interested it.  After awhile, I kept raising my prices until I finally just had to quit doing them. 

9.  Do your best.  If you have agreed to accept a commission, then you owe it to your client to do your best.  Maybe you’re getting a little tired of work for hire, but get this one out of the way.  Then decide if you still want to keep doing them.  But remember that your reputation is on the line and a disgruntled client can be a real pain.  If you can’t make it right, maybe you can refund their money and aim them in the direction of an artist who can better suit their needs.

10.  Ask your client for input.  Most people who commission an artwork are thrilled with the prospect of having something made especially for them.  Ask for their input and a written recommendation. Develop a thick skin in case they have some criticisms.  It might prickle at first, but you can always learn something from a good critique.

To see a step-by-step demonstration of how I created this painting, go to the Artworks tab or click here.