Paintings and Prints by Mary A. Gravelle (click on an image for more info)

Art Prints

Art Quote of the Day

Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Art on Commission Dream or Nightmare

Pallet of colors working on commissioned painting.
18 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas.
Copyright 2014 Mary Rush (Mary Gravelle)
The artist's dream: getting paid upfront to paint! Or is it?

Back in the day a long time ago, it was the elite, political, and religious who hired artists to create pieces that would portray certain images of power and wealth. Think about Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Artists could rely on making a living from creating their art.

Fast forward to late 1700's to mid-1800's when the American and French revolutions and democracy changed the way of life. This also sent the artist headlong into a new direction.

With their conviction to paint and make art that made them happy, or at least expressed what they deemed needed to be expressed, along with the fall of empires and wealth, the artist was now faced with the jubilance of newfound freedom and a need for self-reliance. For a quick and interesting look at art history, read this article.

I have little experience painting for commission. Currently, I find myself doing just that. I am so very grateful to be able to paint, knowing that payment is imminent, already receiving half upfront.

The Painting Setup.
I have discovered a few interesting things about painting on commission.

First, I want the client to be very happy and pleased with the final painting. Because of this, I involved the client in the composition of the painting. This took quite a number of back and forth discussions and conversations. My original vision for the painting changed dramatically. And yet, I am happy with it because I think the buyer will be more content with the final painting having been a part of its creation.

Second, because I want the buyer to be thrilled and ecstatic with the piece, I was sending updates of my progress up until two days ago. The idea for this was to keep the buyer involved in the process. What I discovered, however, was that it was inhibiting my creative process for allowing the painting to have its own voice and expression. Since I do not paint totally realistically, it is important for me to allow the creative muse to visit me during my painting process. And, the buyer kept telling me she wanted to let me do that. But, something inside insisted I keep her informed.

Nov. 13, 2014.
In Process Commissioned Acrylic Painting by Artist Mary Rush
(Mary Gravelle), 18 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas.
Copyright 2014 Mary Gravelle
Now that I have let go of the idea of keeping the buyer apprised of every move I make with this painting, I feel so much happier and relieved while painting. The creative muse came out to play. The painting is breathing its own life now. I can't wait to see where this painting ends up. I am so excited about delivering the final piece to the client. I want her to be surprised by the painting instead of knowing every little detail about it and quite possibly suffocating any excitement of anticipation from the experience that she might be feeling.

What's your opinion of art making for commission? Artists, do you like this way of working? Art buyers and art collectors, do you commission artists to do work for you?

Here are some articles I ran across about the process of commissioned art that might be of interest:

Making Art on Commission: Tips for Artists

Commissioned Art: Tips to Make it a Success

For other articles, google "artists working on commission".

More about my art and paintings can be found on my website.

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Mary Rush
(Mary Gravelle)

About the Author

Mary Rush is an artist who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved cat, Sir Kitty. More about her art and paintings can be found on her website.

Copyright 2014 Mary Rush (Gravelle). All rights reserved.

Sir Kitty

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Painting Merges My Love of The Landscape and Animals

The set up.
Commissioned Painting, 18 x 36 inches.
Acrylic on canvas. Copyright Mary Rush (Mary Gravelle)

Painting Studio Set Up

Nov. 11, 2014. I have been preparing for a new painting, a commissioned work. I set up my painting space today.

Under Painting

Commissioned Painting under painting in process, 18 x 36 inches.
Acrylic on canvas. Copyright Mary Rush (Mary Gravelle)
I did the under painting of the sky. After spending quite a bit of time in the initial pre-planning stages, it felt great to finally put paint on canvas!

Landscape Meets Animals

Also, I have to say that as I was painting today, I loved the idea of painting the landscape again. With this painting, my love of nature and the landscape merges with my love of animals.

The Landscape

The landscape is in Sedona, Arizona. The mountain is known as Bell Rock, one of the major vortex sites in Sedona.

The Animals

The animals are the buyer's cats, Dillon and Dexter. They are both Maine Coon cats and quite large.

My Sir Kitty is attempting to become their friends, so far unsuccessfully. I encourage him to keep trying. So far, Dexter just hisses at him. We'll see what happens over time.

So far, this painting is a delight.

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Sir Kitty

About the author:

Mary Rush Gravelle is an artist who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved cat, Sir Kitty.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making Art is a Lot About the Artist Getting Out of the Way

Tracing a drawing onto my canvas for a commissioned painting.
I will use my own advice while doing this painting.
I have done the initial preparations toward my vision,
receiving input from my buyer. Now, it's up to my creative
process to take over. I will work on getting out of my own
way and let the painting breath its own life into existence.
I am merely the messenger at this point.
Copyright 2014 Mary Rush (Gravelle). All rights reserved.
As much as we artists would like to think that our art is all about us, I believe more and more, it isn't.

I think a lot of the creative process of making art has to do with the artist getting out of his/her own way. The "way" I speak of translates as "mind and brain". Too much thinking can impede our progress. It can inhibit new and exciting expressions from coming forth.

The Joy has Stopped

I was talking with an artist friend over the weekend who is in the midst of painting toward a show that will begin in about three weeks. She told me that she was no longer enjoying her painting process. And furthermore, 3-4 pieces were either in ruin or had been started and stopped. She was shut down creatively and had lost her joy of painting. The impending deadline weighed heavily upon her shoulders and mind. As the conversation unrolled itself, I realized that she had a big sister criticizing her, the little sister, both in real life and internally. This criticism and advice was robbing the fun from her inner child's creative process.

Stop Thinking So Hard

I basically suggested that she just let go and paint. Let the materials do the painting, much like I teach in Wisdom Painting. Stop thinking so hard and get back to playing at the painting process again. Allow herself to experiment a little since she told me she had bought some gel mediums that she wanted to try. The theme of her show also was all about channeling the paintings, a condition where you must be open to the process.

Commissioned painting, 18 x 36 inches.
The drawing part of the process is complete.
Now it's time to paint!
Copyright 2014 Mary Rush (Gravelle). All rights reserved.

Jazzed Again

I am happy to report that my friend just sent me a photo of the painting she worked on today. It is a dynamic and strong visual piece, not yet complete, however. She is totally excited and jazzed again. I would like to think that my conversation with her helped loosen up her process.

What I Suggest

So, here is what I suggest if you feel yourself stuck: just show up and then surrender. Take yourself out of the equation as much as possible.

Just Show Up

Just showing up to the materials will send a message to your inner child or creative muse that you are ready to paint. It's a physical commitment to your process. Show up with intent to paint.


Surrender to the creative process. Let the colors, brushes, palette, and canvas all have a conversation with your intuition and your vision for this painting. There is an intelligence built into the creative process itself. Surrender to it and let it have its way with you and the painting. All those years of art school or training / learning will ensure that the painting is a painting and not a disastrous mess.

Try It

Try this out and report back. How did it work for you? Was it really bad advice? Or did it help you break through a block of some sort?

Mary Rush
(Mary Gravelle)

Until Next Week

Sir Kitty
• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

About the Author

Mary Rush is an artist who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved cat, Sir Kitty.

Copyright 2014 Mary Rush (Gravelle). All rights reserved.