Since I'm still working on a commission I've been thinking about finding out what you (or if your project is a commission, your client) really want to do. Obviously if it's a commission piece, you have the wishes of your client to guide you. But if you get an idea, and begin to think about how you are going to go about painting your idea, it really helps to first think just why you want to paint a particular subject/style/colours.
Most commission pieces are portraits. Portraits of people:
or portraits of buildings:
or portraits of animals/pets:
In each case I “talk” both verbally and visually (with sketches) with the client. Communication is vital when working with a commission, because I'm not just painting a face or a random building or just an animal....I am actually reaching inside the client's head and finding out what makes this face, that house, or that particular animal special to my client. I, as an illustrator, may not have an emotional connection to the object I'm commissioned to paint......but you can bet my client DOES! So I listen, really listen to just what my client “really, really wants”.
In the case of children's picture books.....my guide is the author's manuscript. If the author and editor have done their job, the manuscript only tells the author's story with those action words and dialog that are absolutely necessary....no more no less. All the words that the editor had to cut from an author's manuscript.......are what I put back in.....visually. I am guided by the art director's comments of what is “really, really wanted.”
And then we come to the art that I paint, when I'm “on my own time”. Most of those I will put in juried art shows, to be judged and hopefully hung in an art show for people to look at, in the hopes that they see something in my art that they “really, really want.”
I will often take a passing idea and turn it into a painting.....
or will see a bunch of colours that I really really like and paint them.....just because it pleases me:
Lately I've been experimenting with a “bucket list” of styles and techniques that I've wanted to try, but had to put on the back burner in favor of commissions. Sometimes I'll paint a subject just to experiment with a specific technique. But thru all my experiments, I've been deciding just what was in MY mind's eye, how I wanted the finished piece to look, and what I wanted to accomplish. I've found that the closer I stick to what's in my mind's eye.....the more pleased I am with the finished piece. In other words, once I figure out what I “really, really want” it's a lot clearer sailing to a finished art piece that I really, really want to see.