Maybe you have already had a commission made from an artist, maybe you are in the process of having one made, or maybe you are thinking about it, and want to know what to expect, and how to go about it. This article is meant for everyone.
An art commission… What an interesting concept, if you really think about it. Simply put, an artist, (who has their own clear vision of their work), accepts the ideas and stories of a non-artist (sometimes also an artist), and then tries to translate that into a visual memory for their patron. Although, it can be far from simple.
It is common knowledge that every person has their own visions for things, whether they are an artist or not. Many people have very rich imaginations and only lack the skill to make it a visual reality. Some people employ an artist to create exactly what they have in their heads, to their exact specifications, and some very gifted artists can take all of that information and make it exactly what the person wants.
Herein lies the trickiness of it though: When a person does receive exactly what they dictated, and every little detail they wanted is there, every color, position and object accounted for, will it in the end be a good painting? Will it be aesthetically pleasing with an interesting composition, or crowded and confusing? Will it have a beautiful subtlety and mystery about the person's life and story, or will it all be out there with no specific order or appreciation to the whole? Will it have an emphasis, or be disorganized and restless? Will you get tired of looking at it because there is just too much, or will it bring you peace and resting as you reminisce about your experience? Then, most importantly, does it have that confident quality, like the artist was invested in it, took opportunities and enjoyed special moments and freedoms within the painting, or does it look matter of fact, detached, stagnant, emotionless?
I happen to know what it is like to commission a work of art from another artist. I realize that there are a lot of psychological things going on that you wouldn't guess, especially because I am an artist myself, and have my own very specific taste. I want to describe the experience from my point of view to give you an idea of what went on in my head…
I had a beautiful piece commissioned for my husband and I, from one of our favorite artists, Nathan Ledyard (pictured above). There are three main reasons that I felt called to have this made, and these are things that you also want to think about when finding an artist to commission work for you: First, I had been following his work for months, eating up every post of progress and finished pieces, each one just completely taking my breath away, (I knew I had to own one to admire every day). After seeing so many gorgeous pieces created, I TRUSTED that he could make one for us that was better than I could imagine myself. That was the key- to say humbly that I wanted his interpretation of something more than my own, even though I am an artist too. I had to put my own vision aside and let him do his thing. Second, I could relate to his style. It was obvious without talking to him even, that he let the wood grain speak to him before he began and while he worked, this feeling of perfect harmony between creator and medium. I recognized this because it is one of the most meaningful parts of my own painting. The nautical charts send invitations to collaborate throughout the entire painting process, if I only listen for them. I knew that I would always appreciate that partnership in his painting and every time I gazed at it, I would find new places where he conversed with that wooden panel. Third, I had a specific story that I wanted to show in this piece. This lifeguard tower at Lantana beach was carried away by the waves of Hurricane Sandy. The tower represented our home break, but also the fact that my husband, Teddy, and I met each other as ocean lifeguards years ago. It was also a great memory of the epic waves of that season. Nathan Ledyard is an amazing relief sculptor and painter of waves, the perfect person to make this vision a reality.
Great, seems easy enough, right? Now the hard part- letting go of my plan for this piece. I saw myself trying to have control, I sent several pictures of waves from the swell and angles of the tower, probably enough to thoroughly confuse him, but I wanted it to be perfect! It was, after all, the first time I was spending a large sum of money on art, and it had to be worth it! (How many of you had that thought cross your mind? It's not that you don't feel this artist deserves to be paid for their work, you just want to get the most out of it, and think if you are in charge somehow it will turn out better). This power struggle in my mind really helped me gain insight into the kind of thing that happens to people when they commission work from me. I trusted him, I loved his work, so why then was I worried so much about the outcome? I just needed to be in control! The only reason I did not bug him more and critique all of his progress photos, is because I reminded myself that when left alone to do my thing, I am always more successful, more satisfied, and more inspired by the moment and the work itself. I didn't want to hinder that for my fellow artist, because I knew it would affect the outcome. I didn't want my commission to be so black and white that he wasn't a part of it at all. I wanted him to put himself in there, isn't that why I had commissioned Nathan Ledyard to do it after all?! Then the most important thing came to mind- whatever image of the outcome I had in my head needed to be erased, because I would never be able to enjoy the artwork if it wasn't exactly what I had expected.
Doesn't this sound familiar about life itself? We all have plans and expectations and sometimes things don't happen according to plan- sometimes they are BETTER! When we try to control people and situations too much, we don't get to enjoy how life plays out. I had a clear plan for my career as an art teacher, and then my artwork started to become an option for a career to my own surprise. I didn't think I would ever do it full- time, but then oh my gosh, I had a baby! I wanted a way to stay home and spend time with him, how great does this work out? I am so happy that having Cody gave me the push to risk making my artwork my sole income, while loving this remarkable time with my son. If I stuck to the plan, I wouldn't be here, and he wouldn't be here. If I lamented the loss of my plan, I wouldn't be enjoying this awesome time in my life.
In the end, Nathan created the perfect painting for us, and I remember when he said, "I added this dark blue because I felt it needed something," that I rejoiced because it was that amazing addition that made it feel like the hurricane was either coming or had just happened. The fact that he felt called to, and then safe enough to make that happen, meant that it could happen, and I didn't stand in the way! His painting was better than I had imagined and still blows me away every day when I look at. So much so, that I want another one now to show our favorite break in Panama!
So, just a few things to think about when you commission a painting from any artist.
-Artists enjoy their work more when they have freedom. Paintings made out of enjoyment always look better.
-Controlling every detail of the painting does not mean that it will look the way you wanted in the end- or worse, you will find out that what you wanted doesn't look good.
-You do not need every detail of your story to show in the painting, like getting to know a character in a good book or movie- it should not all be in your face at once.
-The artist knows how to make a composition that looks good, it's what they do.
-Micro- managing in any field rarely breeds an amazing product, but inspiration can lead to ground-breaking results! Try to inspire rather than control.
To prepare yourself for the commission journey, ask yourself these questions:
-Do you love all their work? If there are some pieces you like more than others, try to understand why and share that with the artist- or tell them which ones and they can try to see why and get to know your taste.
-Can you relate to the way they paint, draw, sculpt? Can you see your story visually fulfilled in their style?
-Can you let go of the vision that you have for your story or memory and let the artist be inspired by it to create their own?
-Do you trust this person enough to do that for you, and can you give them the freedom to do their thing?
If not… It's okay if you answer "no" to any of these questions. Recognizing it early will save you both a lot of time, discomfort, and possibly money and hard feelings. It's important for you to be honest with yourself to really get the most of this experience. Maybe you realize that this artist is not the right one to create it, or maybe you realize that you aren't ready. That is a very personal thing and no one can make up your mind for you.
The best part about the commission experience is that you develop a relationship with an artist, you share memories, stories and feelings, really pouring yourself, your heart and soul into them, and then they pour themselves, their heart and soul into creating something you never even imagined!
P.S. If you want a turtle painted on a chart of West Palm, and don't need to tell me the whole story behind it, I am totally down for that too!
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope this really helps you in any of your future art endeavors.
"I think of my studio as a vegetable garden, where things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. You have to water." -Joan Miro.
Our studio is located at 533 E. Ocean Ave. above the restaurant, Hurricane Alley in East Boynton Beach. This hundred year old building has so much character and charm, and it's has been a pleasure to call it my home away from home for the past couple years. Within that time, the offices and occupants like IndieSWIM, Propel Marketing & Design, Chelsea Erwin photography, Katillac Gems, and I, have all been changing and growing. It's so nice to see that the space is reflects the ripening of our own individual businesses.
Kat Yarbrough and I have been working on making our studio a delightful place to work and play, and thanks to the wonderful photography of Chelsea Erwin, we can finally give you a little digital tour.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kat at Katillacgems@hotmail.com to make an appointment to visit!
I had a part mommy project, part awesome collaboration with IS Projects last week and thought I should share:
First of all, cloth diapers are not what they use to be, and not at all what I imagined. I have actually grown pretty fond of what I thought was going to be a messy, disgusting, but necessary sacrifice for the sake of the environment. I will share my experience and some common misconceptions about cloth diapering at the end of this article if you are interested, but first- the fun stuff!
After seeing all of the cute patterns and styles, (yes, even though diapers go under clothes) my mommy friends and I decided it would be really fun to personalize them with some artwork; enter IS Projects. The owner is artist, Ingrid Schindall, who also happens to be a fellow MICA alum. She set us up with ink, tools, and press time to rent by the hour in her communal printmaking and book arts studio down in Fort Lauderdale. Needless to say, we had a blast. There is an impressive amount of equipment and machines, that are all clean and very well-organized. I highly recommend checking it out, either for one of her upcoming workshops, ArtWalks, or reserving your own time in the studio for whatever you have in mind.
Our plan was to use the press to print on the diapers, but the linoleum plates that I carved ahead of time were not the right kind of material for the press. I'm use to using student grade materials as an art teacher, and this was a thicker piece meant for hand stamping. We didn't want to risk the plates exploding on our diapers in the press before they were ever used for the intended type of explosion, so Ingrid gave us a large cushion to stretch out and pin the diapers to. Then we mixed our colors and started stamping… with our baby aprons.
*Below: Jenna Mejeur, wearing the beautiful Sienna June in her grey Ergo Baby Carrier/ printmaking apron.
I used my turtle hatchling block because he kind of looks like he is wearing his own diaper, a mustache that I had carved to make thank you cards for a friend, and then a new seahorse made specifically for this event. We used mostly Bum Genius, All in One diapers, but we also experimented with Lalabyes, Apple Cheeks, and Bottom Bumpers (yes there are that many brands and more to choose from).
I also had Ingrid make me some beautiful onesies for Cody with my three favorite carvings of hers- the Moonfish, the Sunfish, and the Jacks. I can't wait until he can fit into these beauties. These were also done on the press, so they have a nice, crisp edge, and a cool gradation from having one side of the press tighter than the other. Ingrid and her interns are so professional, hospitable, and knowledgable, I hope you get the chance to work with them one day too.
Too bad the babes slept through the whole experience, but the moms had a great time!
Gotta love the mom van. After a busy day of printing, we returned home with all these diapers for ourselves, our friends, and other cloth diapering mommas to enjoy. There are actually whole Facebook groups for cloth diaper buying, selling and swapping and we are planning to make some of these available there, or if you want one you can always email me at email@example.com.
Now for the Nitty Gritty of cloth diapers (If you are curious):
I had some questions before I began, and I'm sure they are similar to yours...
Am I going to have to clean out poop all the time and wash laundry every day?
No! Breastfed baby poo washes right out in the washing machine, so the first 6 months are really easy. Now that Cody is almost 6 months we are going to start working toward solids, which will create stools that have to be scooped out and flushed down the toilet, but it is still not as bad as I thought it was going to be. They also make sprayers that hook up to the side of the toilet so you can just hose them off!
As far as laundry- in Florida you probably don't want diapers to sit in this humidity for more than 3-4 days anyway so I do laundry about twice a week with a cold prewash and then a hot/cold wash with a detergent made specially for cloth diapers. They don't smell at all, and come out fresh every time to use again and again.
Am I going to have to stay home everyday, or use disposables on the go?
That was my big question, I have to take Cody to run errands, go to the studio, pick up supplies, do art shows, and if I had to use disposables there would be no point in cloth for me. However, it turns out that they make these nifty bags with a dry and wet compartment, so all my fresh diapers go in the dry side and the soiled stuff goes in the wet side. I also keep my clean cloth wipes and a spray bottle with easy homemade wipe solution in the dry side, so now I don't need to find a garbage to throw anything away, the wipes get thrown in the wash with the diapers and I haven't had to buy anything in months! Your family, friends and caregivers might be reluctant at first, but after seeing how easy it is, most of ours just followed along. It's the same concept after all. Take it off, wipe, throw both in wet side, put fresh diaper from dry side on, done.
Aren't they really expensive to buy, and you have to have so many, right?
They aren't as cheap as disposables but you get to reuse them for the entire time that your child is in diapers, including potty training, (you take the inserts out to feel the wetness without leakage). The One size diapers have snaps or velcro that keep adjusting to fit your growing baby- best feature ever! There are so many different brands and prices with different benefits, but it really depends on you and your baby. Cody poops in the morning mostly and then pees all day, so Best Bottoms work best for us. I own 5 shells with 15 inserts that get replaced every time he pees, while the shell gets wiped out and restocked with a new insert. If he poops, I throw the shell and insert in the wet bag to wash, but because his poop is pretty regular, I can anticipate it and give him an All-in-one diaper like bum genius during the night and when he wakes up. If he runs through them faster by pooping more, no big deal, I just do laundry sooner that time.
Including detergent, diapers, inserts, 2 on the go wet/dry bags, 1 big wet bag for the nursery, cloth wipes, and bottles for solution, I've spent about $300 to be well stocked (now I'm buying more to play with like the ones above). Even if you had coupons and hit every sale at Target, that amount of money would not last you 2 years of your child's disposable diaper experience, and possibly into the next child in diapers! I'd throw away the ones that looked raggedy, but would definitely keep the good ones for my next son or daughter. It's amazing how much less waste you are making as well. When we went to Panama for 10 days, we bought disposables because we wouldn't have access to a laundry facility and I used a pack of 62 diapers, in a week! I just can't imagine doing that weekly when I look at my 9 total diapers and 15 inserts next to the changing table.
I hope that answered some of your questions. The most helpful thing for me was to find a group of supportive women who were also doing it so that all my random questions were answered. I love Vanessa at Green Path Baby in Palm Beach Gardens because she helped me choose the right diapers for us and even ran through the day by day with me to envision my life with cloth diapers!
In conclusion, even though cloth diapering is a random topic for an art blog, I think it's important to share because people think it's so hard when it's not. Imagine the kind of difference we could make in daily waste if more people embraced it. What an amazing impact it would have on the environment…
Most of you know that I am a huge fan of collaborations. I think that working with other people can push you to your full potential and teach you more about the the world, yourself, and each other, than you would learn working in isolation. That is why I am so thrilled to announce my current series with Dr. Gary Rose from Florida Atlantic University- 19 different species of sharks for his upcoming lectures. These 5"x7" vignettes will be creative examples of each shark to share during his presentation, "Sharks of the Florida Coast and Caribbean." I will be posting them daily on Instagram and Facebook in the next few weeks, so follow along! These one of a kind originals (like the Thresher shark above) will be for sale, but need to be part of the exhibition and lecture series. However, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is one you want to put on hold.
Dr. Gary Rose will discuss the basic facts about sharks in our waters. He will teach you a simple technique to easily distinguish the different species of sharks from each other. He will also give you an entertaining overview of what makes sharks such great survivors – how their multiple senses are so different than our own. I am really looking forward to learning these details as I portray them in watercolor to display at Force-E. All are welcome, but you will want to make a reservation with Forc-E Dive Center to hold you spot. The first is 7-9pm on Thursday, Sept. 10th at Force-E Boca. The second lecture is on Saturday, Sept. 16th at 10am, followed by a two tank dive at Riviera BeachForce-E. Again, make sure to call to make your reservations for one of these awesome events. The shark lecture is also scheduled to be part of Dr. Rose's dive medicine seminar series in The Bahamas this coming February.
It was a total pleasure working on this very special commission. Not only is it an awesome story, but it also happens that the person who requested this piece is a very talented photographer, Presley Wright. Together, we were able to come up with the perfect way to commemorate this journey in time for Father's Day.
As a family, Presley, her parents, and her brother sailed their boat from Alaska down the west coast of North and Central America, through the Panama Canal and up to Key West. I had the most gorgeous photographs to work from- Whales, Seals, Bald Eagles, Bears, oh my! The final product was one chart of Alaska with a bald eagle, bear, orca and their boat against the cliffs. The other chart was of North, Central and South America and included a sail fish that they caught on their journey, a whale shark, grouper and mother and child humpback whales.
This past weekend we took our first, big, family vacation with baby Cody to Key West. It was my husband's first Father's day, and we got to spend it diving in Key West with my own father! The staff from Dive Key West were so hospitable and friendly, we really felt at home hanging out on the boat with them, and safe in the water. I highly recommend booking their charter- ask for Cody and Lisa, (no, my Cody was at the hotel with grandma, ha ha).
On the way down to Key West, we stopped in Tavernier to take a look at this beautiful gallery store, Island Decor. Shanti, the owner, has a gorgeous display of local artists and offers custom framing and interior design services as well. I am so proud to now be one of her featured artists. Definitely check out her store next time you are in the keys!
People said, "Won't a giant octopus over the crib give your baby nightmares?" and "Why would you want that thing as decoration in your baby room?" but for me it was a no brainer. Not only is the octopus one of my favorite creatures (obviously), but they are the ultimate symbol of motherhood and protection. A mother octopus protects her eggs from the time they are laid to the time they hatch without leaving or eating, and then she dies. There is still much research to be done on this, but from what scientists have observed, "No mother could give more." That is the image of love and sacrifice that I want my son, and husband and I to remember when we admire her in his room.
Mother octopus was the main inspiration for the room, but I also wanted to incorporate some of my favorite artists and designers that I have met and followed in the past few years. My mother and I used organic fabric designed by Monaluna to sew the quilt, curtains, changing pad cover, and basket liners. Teddy and I made a gallery wall of the artwork we've collected at shows or have been given, along with a big "C" signed by all his friends and family from the baby shower. Sean Barry, Chris Doherty, Schatzi Brown, and Aaron Ansarov are a few of the artists displayed, along with one of our favorites by Jay Alders on the opposite wall.
Friends and family wrote sweet notes of wisdom and advice and placed them into each of his diapers, which 6 weeks later, is still a joy to open, even in the middle of the night!
Teddy and his brother, Matt, made these bamboo rods to hang Cody's clothes from, while Snowball supervised and approved all of the decisions and additions from her favorite rug by Schatzi Brown.
Huge thanks to the wonderful, Chelsea Erwin Photography for these stunning photos of Cody's room, and for the maternity and newborn photos that will also be hanging on the wall in there as well!
I had a lot of fun making these two, mini, surfer paintings for Artigras, and I just wanted to share them with you all because I'm sure many can relate to these scenes. As surfers, boaters and watermen and women, we encounter and interact with marine life on a regular basis and we all have a story to tell. I enjoyed bringing the human element back into the paintings and what better way to start than with surfers. We are out there with the most interesting creatures right under our feet (or nibbling our feet) and most of the time we don't even know it! The Surfer and the Bull on West Palm Beach original is still for sale in a dark blue floating frame for $150.
I would love to hear some of your stories to possibly make more minis of the ones that I am inspired by, or can envision as paintings. You can comment on the blog, Facebook, or via email with a marine life encounter of your own, and if you have pictures, definitely send those too! If I make a painting of your story, I will gladly send you the first, 11"x14" limited edition print of 50! Hope to hear from you soon!
Carly Mejeur is a floridian artist, inspired by her ocean hobbies and travels. This Blog is for news, events, and just for fun. Click here for the artist's Bio.