Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Inspiring Author and Commissioned Art

Okay, get ready for a shallow intro here: Stephanie Dray is following me on twitter!  See, one day she stumbled upon one of my witty tweets (haha) and thought, "Wow, here's a clever tweeter.  I should follow this person." 

You're not buying that story?  Okay, fine.  *sigh*  Here's what really happened.  I @mentioned her in such a way where I hoped she'd notice my existence and maybe click the follow button.  And she did.  Hey, I didn't say I was proud.  Satisfied?  Yes.  Proud?  No.  Well, maybe a little.
 
Oh, in case you don't know who Stephanie Dray is....



In addition to being the writer of two intriguing novels ("Lily of the Nile" was her debut), she's just an altogether nice person.  We went back and forth a few times on her blog last year, and she doesn't let the fact that she's a published author get in the way of having ordinary conversations with 'ordinary' people.  As far as authors go, she's really becoming one of my inspirations.

In other news, I sort of alluded to this in a previous blog entry, but now it's official.  I've been commissioned to do an oil-painting.  It started because Shannon posted my oil paintings on facebook.  One of her FB friends saw my artwork and asked Shannon if she could pay me to do a piece for her.  Shan went ahead and referred her to me, and the rest is history. 

This whole situation has created a few miniature dilemmas.  The first thing I had to decide was if I even wanted to do a piece of art for payment.  My dream is to be a writer--not a painter--so I can't really see what benefit there would be to taking up a project that would probably cause me more stress than it was worth.  Also, my customer (for lack of a better term) wanted me to paint an image that I found disturbing, and that was something I really wrestled with (hence the question I posed on a previous post regarding compromising your taste/style for the sake of selling a piece).  Shan helped me to settle the first dilemma by telling me "Sell one piece, just to say that you've done it".  Well, the conversation went a little deeper than that, but that was the gist of it. Then a friend of mine helped me to solve dilemma #2 by explaining to me that selling art is a matter of economics.  If I don't feel any passion for the project I'm working on, then it's up to me to decide if the money is worth the exchange of my talent and time, minus that passion.  In a way, here's where art becomes a "job" rather than a pleasant way to spend your Saturday.   

The customer in question--let's call her "A"--has been really awesome to work with so far.  She decided to meet me halfway on her picture choice, and exchanged her first image with one that was much more palatable for me.  It's still not my taste, but doesn't leave me morally unsettled like her first choice.  And with the colors, shapes, and shadowing it involves, it could actually be fun.  I'm charging 'A' $115 for an 18x24 painting, which is nothing when compared to my daily teaching wages.  Shan and I figured that I should go cheap for a first sell, and $115 breaks down to 25 cents a square inch...can't go much cheaper than that.  Now I know where the term "starving artist" comes from.  Better not quit my day job.