Bats in Flight, A Commissioned Work

I’ve been waiting to share this collage. It was commissioned by my cousin as a gift for her daughter, and I didn’t want to show everyone else until after the recipient had a chance to enjoy it. She has a passion for saving endangered animals; that’s the reason for the bats.  It’s a subject I’d probably never have selected on my own, but it was inspiring to work on a subject that was a stretch for me.  Besides, a commission is a commission and this was my first.

Producing artwork on commission is a little different. It’s great to know while you work that the labor isn’t in vain. I also loved the idea of making it for a particular special person. Still, I had a few jitters. I’d heard a horror stories about commissions that had gone wrong — clients who demanded endless revisions, or who tried to oversee the work so closely that it became impossible to work at all. I followed the advice of my second mom, Ceil Surbrook, not to accept any advance payment. An advance muddies the issue of who owns the work and makes it difficult for the artist to draw a line between reasonable and unreasonable accommodation of the client’s whims.

Cautions aside, everything about this project went smoothly.  I felt a little anxious when I sent pictures of the nearly finished work to my client for her approval.  I’m used to submitting my work for evaluation, and getting more comfortable with that fact that not everyone is going to like it, but this time I really hoped one specific person would love it. Ceil’s advice helped here, too — in the worst case, if she didn’t like the work, I could always (in theory, at least) find another buyer.

It took most of the month I’d budgeted to complete this piece, with suitable pauses to step back and then approach it with a fresh eye.  I’ve rushed larger pieces in less time, but pauses are a very important part of the process; without them my work isn’t nearly as good. Work delivered, payment deposited, I finally got word that the recipient was delighted so that now I can share it with you.




2 thoughts on “Bats in Flight, A Commissioned Work

  1. Deborah, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this beautiful piece of art that you created specifically for my daughter Elena. As you already know, she loves it. Our whole family has been marveling over your talent. I gave you such specific direction about the subject matter, a mixed blessing, I’m sure. I don’t know many artists…or perhaps ANY artist…who could have taken the topic of “bats” and created such a beautiful piece. Even after we discussed how Elena feels about bat conservation and the fact that bats are shy, sweet creatures. The fact that you were able to portray the feeling of these beauties beginning their flight into the dusk sky will always amaze me, no matter how often I walk past the piece proudly displayed in her room. I’m not an art critic or even especially knowledgeable about art, but I know that an artist whose work can create complex emotions inside of me is, herself, a rare and precious gem. Thank you so very much. You’re amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your reaction, MJ. Other people have given my work as gifts, but this is the first time I’ve been lucky enough to hear how it was received. I’m so, so gratified that you’re both happy.

    Since creating this piece I’ve discovered a lot more bat lovers out there — yet another interesting outcome of this project.


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