Friday, July 23, 2010

Slightly disillusioned!

For a whole host of reasons, I have decided to withdraw all listings on all sites for graphite portraits and will be focusing on colour pencil portraits only. I am also going to be a bit stronger and refuse to do portraits if the client doesn''t have a high resolution photo. I was always a bit of a softy in this regard, feeling sorry for the client and not wanting to disappoint them, but I have learnt the hard way that it just doesn't pay!!


Carol Andre' said...

What a shame Karen. I ofcourse don't know what happened, but I can imagine. Been there- done that sort of thing. I don't do commissions at all. After a couple of bad moments I just decided it wasn't worth it. I want people to enjoy my art, not leave a bad taste in my mouth! Good luck with whatever your future holds next.

Unknown said...

I am sorry if things haven't gone right for you with graphite portraiture.
I agree..Most of the photos I get for commissions are not good and it makes it so hard to get lovely detail of the person or the pet. I suppose it is hard for non artists to understand that we need good photos.
We may create miracles but impossibilities take a little longer. LOL

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Carol and Dors for your lovely comments, but I'm really not sad. We have to trust our guts sometimes and go with what feels right. I am so in awe of artists (like you Dors) who do beautiful work with graphite, but I know my heart is really with colour, so instead of stressing about it, I'll just go with it. As for the commission work, I'm still happy to do that for now (in colour), but will be choosier about which work to accept :))

Karen said...

I can't imagine anyone not being happy with one of your pieces - it does make me realise that I couldn't do commissions. I remember once when I was first starting drawing, a neighbour said I could draw her dog for practice. She gave me photo where the dog's head was approx one inch square (and I was going to do an 8" x 10" portrait). I did my best and showed her - she said "Well, it looks like the photo........but it doesn't look like my dog"
You just can't please some people!

Unknown said...

I think insisting on clear and sharp ref photographs is absolutely the right thing to do Karen. I get fussier and fussier and much prefer to take my own where possible these days as ultimately the better the photo the better the portrait. A lot of people don't understand that we draw/paint what we see and don't have the benefit of telepathic skills!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Karen and Laura for your understanding comments. I guess it is a universal problem for any artist doing commissions, and yes I think sometimes the perception is that we can create miracles - if only!!! :))

Autumn Leaves said...

It seems there was a catalyst of some sort that led to these decisions, Karen. I think your graphite work is just phenomenal so I am saddened to know they will be no more. Still, no matter what you take your hand to, I know it will be a stunner. I'm a softie too, so I can imagine how tough it is to stick to your guns about such things as the pixelation in your source photos.

Unknown said...

Well I may change my mind down the track Sherry - there are just too many problems associated with working with graphite on the drafting film (plus I love colour). As for the quality of the photos - I did one portrait 6 weeks ago from a tiny photo and never heard back from the client (it took hours to do) and generally I find that the clients just are not happy with the result when they provide a low resolution photo.

Michelle Wrighton said...

Sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience Karen...sad to say - been there done that so I know how you feel:( The worse thing is that one negative outweighs all of the positives you get and the negative stays with you for a long while:( I stopped accepting commissions from bad reference photos years ago, or openly charged more for having to work from them because they do take so much more time.

Unknown said...

Hi Michelle - how lovely to hear from you! It is actually very reassuring to hear that so many other artists share the same frustrations and have come to the same conclusions. Thank you so much for stopping by!!! :))

Debra Keirce said...

I'll miss your graphite pieces Karen. I hope you will still do a few now and then. You are so incredibly talented at them. I was talking to a friend the other day who is an artist. She does about 10 to 15 commissions per year, and she refuses to ever use a photo. I find that about as inconceivable as living without a car, like they do in some big cities. Like you, I ONLY take commissions when I'm handed a decent photo to work from. Good luck in the future with your new rules Karen. I hope they serve you well. I guess we all need to figure out what works best for us.

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi Karen!... Was directed to your wonderful site thru' a vist to Carol Andre's!

Glad to have discovered it too! Your miniature work is purely magnificent... and magical! Your ability to create detail and texture on such a minute scale is truly humbling!

Your "commission blues" is to artists... as sand traps and water bunkers are to golfers- Hazards... that can't be avoided... if one wishes to play!HAHA!!

Non bastardus carborundum!.... No... not give up graphite work!

Loosely translated in Latin... I believe it means:
Don't let the ba--ards wear you down! HAHA!!

Or as Nike says: Just do it!

Great talent and versatility!

Good Painting and Drawing!
Warmest regards,
Bruce Sherman

Sue Clinker said...

Sorry I'm late - just catching up here. I too am sorry you've had to take this stand but hope you'll do the occasional graphite for fun and post results - you're work is beautiful.

Working from poor refs isn't the only difficulty with commissions though. I completed portraits of a husband and wife who were 40 within days of each other. It was commissioned by a friend of the birthday couple. The ref photos were quite clear. The portraits were finished, approved and despatched. A couple of weeks later I got the 'female' portrait back with a message from my client saying her friend had been on a diet and would I now 'slim her face down' accordingly!! I was so 'gobsmacked' I actually did it without argument (not easy with coloured pencil)!

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Hi Karen, So sorry you've decide to stop with the graphite for now. I love your work in both graphite and colored pencil. You have to do what makes YOU happy!

Unknown said...

Thank you for your lovely comments Deb - does your friend do her portraits from sittings? - I guess it is different if you have the opportunity to meet your subject in person.

Hi Bruce - great to meet you and thank you for all your kind words. It is always wonderful to meet a new blogger and your comments put a huge smile on my face - very funny!!! :))

You know I'm not surprised Sue - I have had some funny requests too - but I must say yours takes the cake!!! It was lucky you hadn't used fixative or there would be no going back!!!

You are so right Barbara. I do like working with the graphite on the drafting film - but always run into problems when I am presented with a dark photo, (which is a lot of the time) with a lot of deep shadows. I find it hard to get nice smooth, dark tones. I am experimenting with the graphite on the yupo at the moment - that may have potential!!! Have you tried it?

Artoholic said...

I'm back online! (again).

Aren't people funny? When I was doing Calligraphy full time it was a love/hate relationship with brides. Same stuff you're going through essentially. The final straw in giving up wedding invitation calligraphy was when the bride paid with bottles of vodka.

Stick to your guns Karen!

Unknown said...

Again you make me laugh Cindy - you are like a healthy dose of medicine!!! I actually feel much more relaxed now - going on the volume of Pre Christmas commissions that I had to do last year, I was dreading the next few months. Cutting out the graphite portraits means less work (and less money) but I am really enjoying working on some other projects as well at the moment, so for now I think it is the right decision!!!