Friday Tips: How Do You Get a Commission On Your Own?


The easiest way to get a commission is when a client falls in love with one of your works, but it’s already sold.  When this happens, be it painting or sculpture, do you let them go out the door disappointed?  We don’t.  We offer to have the artist execute the piece in a larger size. 

This practice dates back to the Dutch Golden Age.  If you’ll review any of Rembrandt’s better-known paintings, you’ll find that several were executed in three sizes: study, enlargement, and monumental scale.  The same with many of the Impressionists and Cubists.  Hence, the precedent was established long ago.  Of course the pieces are never exactly alike; while they might capture the same mood or feel, there are always minor differences. 

Most of our artists love this practice, as it saves them the trouble of reinventing the wheel on a regular basis.  But a few don’t care for it, which is fine with me.  If you do practice it, please just remember that each enlargement or reduction must be as impassioned as the work that inspired it, radiating its own fire.  

If this approach leads to your first commission, make sure the details are spelled out in a letter of intent that you and the client sign.  This should discuss size, price, delivery date, and the fact that you guarantee the client’s satisfaction.  Making that guarantee is not hokey; it wins their confidence.  You already know you’re going to do good work; the guarantee just qualifies that. 

Glass Install, Drew Hine


Installed these pieces last week with a private collector.  Drew Hine blew the glass.  I consulted, working with client on configuration, color choices, plate sizes, placement, etc. 


The house doesn’t have high ceilings, so we found another way to  install the glas.  Client ecstatic, artist paid, art consultant celebating at Garozzo’s last night with Brown Eyes and friends.


Strong Turnout for Picher Show


Well about 200 people attended the opening last Friday.  The kids were so pumped.  Very charming to watch.  Several of their pieces sold, so needless to say the excitement level was pretty high. 


For an artist to come from the inner-city, and have talent but few resources, it means a great deal to be recognized in this way.  Goes a long way, so I’m told, in helping ensure that they go to college.


We raised a fair bit of money for disaster relief in Picher as well.  Very pleased overall, but what a bunch of punks.

William Lobdell, the New York Sun, and Wayne Thiebaud

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Flat Iron, 5′ x 2′ x 5″, Acrylic and Gatorboard, William Lobdell

Last fall an art critic for the New York Sun wrote me, wanting to know if William Lobdell had influenced Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings of San Francisco.  I told her that since William was 40 and Thiebaud 88, probably not.  She was impressed with his work anyway, which made me realize it was time to help William get a New York show. 

So I encouraged him to begin interpreting structures of New York.  The first one is above.  I’ll help him get a NY gallery soon.  The critic?  We’ll let her know when the show is on.

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Artwork for Lincoln Prep & SME Show

Paintings below are two of the pieces that were inspired by the Trip to Picher, and that will be in the show tomorrow night.  The opening’s been covered in the Star, on TV, and on KCUR, the local Public Radio affiliate.  I’m expecting about 200 people.  What a great night it will be, though somewhat sad. 

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Picher Siren, Before the Tornado, 18 x 14, Pastel, Desirae Smith

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 Somewhere There’s a Lady, Oil, 24 x 30, Graham Greene

Will all this prove a vote of confidence in these young artists, and their abilities?  Sure.  That’s the primary reason we do it.

Devastation in Picher / Opening & Fund-Raiser for Picher


There’s not much to say about the tornado that hit Picher on Saturday.  This ravaged town already had so little.  The twister flattened much of what was left, took 6 lives with it, and left I-don’t-know how many in the hospital.  Soon I suppose the place will really be abandoned. 

We’ll go ahead with our opening this Friday, stemming from the field trip we took in March, but man this is a sad week.  I’ll drive down tomorrow to see what I can learn and how we can help.  In the meantime, the gig on Friday will serve as a fund-raiser.  There are lots of old people and little kids who ain’t got nothing down there right now–not as bad as Myanmar, but bad enough.

Show This Friday: Arlie and Dave Regier, with Dan Coburn


Column, Dave Regier, Stainless Steel

Opening on Friday night for the artists listed above.  Have already sold two Regier sculptures, and expect the pace to be pretty brisk. Demand for their work is at a peak.

When I first met Arlie in 1993, I recognized phenomenal ability in him, though no critics would give him the time of day then.  Now?  The Regiers have work in the Boston Museum, with Warner Brothers, H&R Block, and private collectors worldwide.  Their prices have tripled in the past 10 years, and will double within the next year.  They show in Santa Fe and Aspen, and now we’re negotiating with a major LA gallery for a 2009 show. 

How did we get to this point?  By refusing to accept the word, “No.”

Plan to achieve similar things for the photographer Dan Coburn.


Landscape #7, Archival Pigment Print, Dan Coburn

Article on Students in KC Star


“A painting inspired by a trip with fellow art students to Picher, Okla., got the creative juices of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy senior Donovan Maynord flowing last month.”  Kansas City Star

The Star did an Article yesterday on the field trip we took to OK with artists from Lincoln Prep and Shawnee Mission East.  It came out on the front page, and I don’t mind saying that made the kids quite proud.  Their show opens on 5/16.  Details in the article.

Matt Kirby’s Sculpture Proposal



These drawings show 2 stages, out of 5, of a steel sculpture we’re creating for a private collector, but which will go in a public space.  The lower drawing is the final design.  

The piece will be made of mild steel, stainless steel, and cast glass. Good old Matt Kirby is the designer/sculptor.  I’ll coordinate the job, since there will be about 7 subcontractors involved, and a lot of trouble-shooting.  We’ll dedicate in Sept. 

Next steps?  Create final maquette, secure approval, meet with engineer about attaching methods and loads, order 2 tons of steel, and start fabricating.  Glass later.