What does a ‘Commission’ mean to you?
Since I’ve been working more within the art field, I’ve come across people who have no idea what a ‘commission’ really means. It’s either something they have never thought about, as they have never bought an original piece of art or, they have no art on their walls at all.
Is it the word that puts people off?
I do think it’s the wording that makes it seem a bit elitist. If you need help designing a new garden, but you aren’t a gardener, you call in a professional. If you are planning a new kitchen, you call in the kitchen designer. If you need cupboards made for a tricky space, or in a specific design, you call in a carpenter. You don’t really say, ‘Lets commission a new kitchen.’ You just ask around, have a look, and make some calls.
Calling in an artist that you like to create a piece of work for a specific space, should be the same feeling as calling in anyone else. I realise that not everyone would want to do this, but many people do. Yes, it’s more expensive than buying a print, but we all have things we save for, things that we covet and wait for.
I’m not one for buying lots of shoes and clothes.
I remember years ago when I was going to the theatre in Bristol. I spotted a teddy bear in an antique shop window. He was made of resin and was sitting on the top of a rustic blanket box. I was in love! Obviously, the shop was closed as it was evening time, so I took the name, and called the next day. This was before the days of paying for things over the phone, so I had to ask the shop owner to keep him back for me until I could drive up again. I chose to spend my money on an ornament, rather than a new pair of shoes. It’s all about choices.
My first piece of real art.
The first original painting I purchased was by Stella Whatley, who sadly passed away earlier this year. I had attended a couple of her drawing and painting for beginners workshops back in the early nineties, and she was the first real artist I knew. We were neighbours, and in my teenage years I knew her daughter Fiona very well. At that time Stella was painting with oils, and she always worked in the ‘studio’ – down in the ‘basement’ that always smelt of paint had fascinated me!
I went to a couple of her exhibitions, and at that time I couldn’t afford the larger work, so I purchased an unframed life drawing, and had it framed myself. It’s been in the bedroom of every house we have lived in. My first real piece of art, so it’s very special to me.
My first ever piece of Original Art. A life drawing by Stella Whatley.
Commissions are different.
The first piece of art I properly commissioned, was for my husbands’ 40th birthday. It is a silk painting of me in my wedding dress. We hadn’t been married long and I had no photos of the back of the dress, so I asked a friend – Paula Carnell (then Kenevan) to paint me!
I already had an original painting by Paula. Purchased through a barter as a surprise for MrH – before he was my husband! I paid a third in savings, a third in treatments, and the final third as a swap of an old industrial hoover she wanted for her art gallery in Castle Cary! I loved her work, and had been on a couple of the workshops she had run at Dillington House in Somerset. Interestingly, she had been running a course while I was attending one with Stella. We got talking, and are now good friends! In those days synchronicity and woo woo weren’t words I really used, but this was one of those moments!
Before you google her, Paula no longer paints. She had a full life changing episode ten years ago. You can read about it in her new book – Art To Bees.
It wouldn’t fit in the back of our car! I had to ask a neighbour to collect it for me!
I have two more commissioned pieces. One is by the inspirational artist Aquara Soma. My mentor through this transition into energy art. For those of you who have visited my treatment space, you will know it well. It’s a highly vibrational piece, and this was my first insight into a commissioned piece for the space. You will notice it behind the treatment couch, full of crystals and gold leaf! Aquara visited me ten years ago and, tuning into my energies and the energies in the room, we chatted while she made notes and the discussed the practical side – size and price – and off she went to use her creative intuition to design a piece specifically for the treatment space. 10 years on, I am now honoured to be an artist in her online Soma Art Gallery. Synchronicity again! Just look at the signposts!
The second piece is more recent.
I met the wonderful Maryanne (Maz) Hawes a few years ago when she was a photographer. We met on yoga mats! After being connected on social media for a couple of years, I saw that she had gradually changed direction. Menopause does that to people you know! She is now an inspiring contemporary artist.
When we had a new kitchen four years ago, I knew that I wanted a large statement piece for behind the Aga. We have very little wall space, so this was the focal point. I knew it had to be by Maz! Again, I saved the money, and when she delivered it, we were blown away! It was exactly what we wanted. It finishes the kitchen perfectly!
Little did I know, that she would be an inspiration for me on my journey into the world of art! Funny how things turn out. Synchronicity strikes again!
My most recent piece from Maryanne Hawes.
If you want a special piece, find the right person for you.
So, you see, a commission isn’t a scary thing. Nor is it an elitist thing. It’s about asking for the piece specifically for you. Or for the space you have in mind. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but it will obviously cost more than a piece that has already been created.
A set of four I painted as a commission last year.
So, if you like my work, but it’s not quite right for the space, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes making that connection, asking and planning, can manifest something perfect, even if you have to save for it. I had the honour of painting a couple of commissions last year, and, as an artist, I can say that it is quite a privilege. Especially with my work being energy art – embedded with energies for the person and space I am creating it for.