Enjoy the past comments below for ‘A dumb idea’…
Nice one Bobby !
Wonderful attitude Robert! Rather than “wrecking the integrity” of your work I think you honor it. Re-working the painting slightly shows that you care enough about your artwork to make it even more meaningful for the collector. Of course there is a limit to being accommodating and I’m sure you won’t paint Jimmy’s hair grey down the line ;)
Well done. You made them happy. As a result, they will value your talent, your integrity, and the painting much more.
Yeah. “Take the money and run” and put it in a Cayman account.
If an edit, correction or addition can be made to satisfy a customer, I will also comply. I recently found a customer for one of my paintings in which a seaside bicycle leaned against a wooden sand fence. Parts of paintings are detailed and other parts left vague. I left the spokes out. She loved the painting but asked whether I could add spokes. I told her I had an entire new shipment of spokes that just came in. Rendered in oil, a few days later she was able to peddle it home.
I for one love your idea of “guaranteed for life”. The before and after photos are a testament to how well this idea works. Are you ever tempted to go further than what a person asks? For example: add a bit more hair or make the jacket darker? I think that I would have a hard time keeping my hands off the rest of the painting, on the other hand I’d try to remind myself that the client loves this painting and is only asking for one or two changes. If I started to mess with other parts of the painting I’m sure I would make an unhappy customer.
Why not “guarantee for life?” This gives a buyer the opportunity to make the meaningful changes that Robert describes, and it gives the buyer both peace of mind and something to talk about, as in. “Wow. The artist guaranteed this for life!” If something happens to the painting or the paint or the mat or something that is within your control, when the customer comes back and you fix it, you have a chance to sell something else. You also may have a permanent place on your customer’s wall.
I think it interesting that you change the direct of the air crafts….curious, why?
Good for you Robert! Integrity is desperately needed in today’s world!
I don’t think your lifetime guarantee was or is silly. I do that also and send Thank You Notes and if I am there I take their pictures with the paintings. I am always sooo grateful, proud and excited when I sold a painting. I do enjoy your letters and admiring yours and others art work.
I too have a painting that I did years ago…5 or 6 perhaps… and I need to make a correction. I used Damar glossy varnish and I am afraid Ill make a mess trying to remove it. Several art friends have said to just paint it out on top of the varnish. I dont think that is a good idea…. but am leery about trying to remove the varnish without some sound advice. In recent years I have started mixing (50-50) Grumbacher Damar gloss with Damar Matt finish and it seems to be working. I have to warm up the Matt varnish to get it to dissolve and then work quickly. I like the effect. Any hints would be greatly appreciated.
Robert, you are a true gem! By guaranteeing your work you are making great friends for life. I can imagine how happy you have made this customer by altering your painting and the ‘no charge’ shows you are a real gentleman! Congrats! Well done!!!
Integrity seems to be out of fashion in our disposable world, as your sell and run friend has displayed. He is cheating himself as well as the people he runs from. I would never take a painting back to an artist for a “touch up” unless somehow it was damaged. Just knowing that someone stands by their work is enough to give this work of art itself respect as NOT just another throw away image. It is this intangible thing of value.
Barbie, I love the paintings of your brother. And yes, I do agree, he looks better without the mustache. The change in the background works well also. Thank you for sharing this wonderful painting.
I haven’t thought to guarantee my paintings and drawings. I like the idea, and find your flexibility respectful of your work and your buyers. My own “value added” is a clearly handwritten story on a 3″ x 5″ paper pasted on the back of the painting. My words speak of what inspired me to paint that particular piece, and a few words about how I came to the sight I wanted to remember. Buyers have told me that they liked knowing both what drew them to the painting and what drew me to paint it. They feel they have met me, though often not in person.
Robert, I wholeheartedly agree with your friend “take the money and run”.
Take the money and run ??? What a lack of integrity that artist has! If nothing else, an artist should view his work as the outcome of a talent s/he has been given; a talent that one should share with others. That mans attitude is already too rampant in our society, and, I feel, has much to do with the sorry state so much of our world is in. There are too many that think only of themselves and the money they may make or take off of others. Not an attitude I am willing to hold; I have more self-esteem than that! Thank you for your dumb ideas, Robert, for I look forward to reading your letters about integrity and courage especially in a world that has often lost its way not only in art.
How can acting instinctively ever be a wrong idea? It is your natural path in life to react and do as one does! If it does turn out to be bad idea, it is your schooling of life in the art world. Some artists would never be able to take the same steps as you did and do & some take very similar steps when it comes to their work, that is what makes us so unique in this wonderful world of art!
How do you clean an acrylic painting? I have used alcohol to remove acrylic paint for corrections. Does ammonia work better?
I’m not a painter, my brother is a wonderful painter (he studies every week at the National Art Gallery) but I connect so much with your “message” of giving more than you get. Just this morning I’ll gather up a bag of wool for someone who contacted me via the internet and wants to learn how to felt; she has signed up for a class I’ll be teaching shortly. She used to be a bronze sculptor in China and is desperate (I understand that obsession) to make a felt flower today after school with her children but she doesn’t have wool. I’m leaving a bag on my deck for her (I’ll be at work) and I get such pleasure thinking of that Mom from a far away place being excited about felting — and I get to help!
It may be a ‘dumb idea’ to some, but it points out an often obscured fact. Being an artist is a people business and as such it is a ‘service’ business. The connections with people are what allow us to keep painting. When we are willing to go the extra mile for our customers, it brings us inner satisfaction. Our generosity brings unseen and sometimes tangible rewards.
This letter reminds me of the time when I did a very large painting of 15, yes that is right 15 people in one painting. This was done as a surprise anniversary gift from the husband to his wife, the mother of the “blended” family, yours mine and ours kind of family. Not only their children and young grandchildre, but the spouses of their children. One such spouse was a long haired blond fellow my husband referred to as the “ax murderer”, and you guessed it (and no he did not commit murder), the daughter divorced him and they came back a few years later and requested this “ax murderer” be “removed” from the painting. Now he is part of the back ground, just a puff of powdery mist in the background, never to be seen again!!!! Wouldn’t it be so nice if only you could remove an ex family member that easily!!!! as always ,” paint from the heart with joy”.
People tend to learn from their experience. Perhaps your friend had bad experiences with overbearing unreasonable clients?
Once, years ago, I would do pencil sketches for extra cash while exhibiting my oils, I would do a half hour drawing and charge $20.00. It was clear that these would be quick sketches and was advertised as such. After one sketch of a young woman, she left and returned a half hour later and asked if I would adjust the nose a bit which I did and she left. Returning again later, she again asked if I would adjust the eyes a bit more. Again, willing to please, I did and she left. After another half hour she returned again asking me to adjust the hair. This time I reaffirmed that these were quick sketches and not meant to be finished portraits. She was not pleased that I would not adjust the sketch again and was making a scene. I took the sketch from her, refunded her twenty dollars and told her if she wanted me to do a better job, she could contact me at my studio and for four hundred dollars I would paint her portrait. She left never to return. You can’t please everyone.
This letter is a lesson in life and how we change and view things. I look back over watercolors that I did early on and think to myself……a child could do that. BUT, it is my work and my work alone even if I never sold it my children will always treasure those things. Thank you!
We do need to connect with others in this way, to give added value and go the extra mile. We always appreciate this quality when we receive it from others, so why not practice it ourselves? When so much of an artist’s life is spent in solitary occupation, we need to welcome the chance to connect with those who love our work enough to buy it.
Yes…..that commitment to the project and its people counts I think a lot. It keeps the health and spirits right in it and meets the goal of quality of life when we see the beauty and live it. One client loved an historic building and had me do a portrait of it. But when some interior improvements were being done they moved the painting to a bad spot and it bleached it out to an awful cartoon. By chance, I asked to include it in one of my one-woman shows and when I picked it up, I gasped at the damage. I told my friend: you did not need to be afraid to tell me – it’s fixable. In fact, the spots that faded were ones that looked better with more layers of the watercolor to give them the richness of texture – the restored painting was better than the original and the only cost, that of replacing it “snappywise” in its frame. Happy everyone is what it is about.
In all the time I have read and enjoyed your commentaries, I like this one the best. It shows your good heart and decency. Not that the others haven’t, but this is the best.
I’d be interested in how you cleaned the painting, Robert. What if the painting had had no varnish on it?
Well done, you resisted touching up other parts!
Few years ago my gallery asked me if I would take a portrait commission. The client was an older gentlemen with terminal illness. He wanted a portrait of himself which he would giclee in a few copies and leave to his children after death. This project obviously couldnt be done without a strong emotional connection with the client and possibly to his family. My mother had just passed away earlier that year and I was still emotionally raw. I just couldnt take that job. I still feel bad about it, but I hope that he was probably better accommodated by another artist. Even with best intention to provide great service and connect with people and make them happy, that just isnt always possible. The Jimmy and the Hummingbird nest stories are the best scenario. We also need to learn how to deal with other kinds of situations. My friend had a rowdy alcoholic client who demanded to be invited to all of the artists family events
Great story and a great message. You’re obviously on to something good, something that works, even from a business perspective. A friendship is a lot more important than a sale.
If I had a wife who didn’t like my mustache, in a painting or for real, I’d get rid of the wife.
If you got rid of her over such a frivolous issue as your moustache in a painting or for real, she would still take 50% of your net worth.
First of all Robert, your exampled portrait is wonderful and the solution for a modification of background and facial trim was most gracious on your part. The process of pentimento comes to mind, or better yet..what lies beneath shall forever remain a mystery. In addition, having any rapport with ones clients in the naive youthful stages of selling a work and aiming to please as well as present day experienced transactions seems most appropriate within the framework of self promotion. Most collectors are eager to meet the artist they purchase and I have found this of great personal value. It’s natural curiosity to want to know something about the mystery person who has made this personal connection to ourselves after a sale, be it via a gallery or another venue. That works both ways as well. I do draw the line though regarding any client requested alterations to an existing piece and admire your perseverance to do that for a friend so willingly and successfully. Regards, Halverson
I agree with you totally about added value and so on. I keep in touch with my clients and make sure my work goes to good homes! Only once have I refused to go along with a request. A woman once asked me to change the little boy in the Maple Leaf sweater, and put him in a Montreal Habs sweater!! Sacrilege! One has to draw a line in the sand, or on the ice.
Your dumb idea is the best in the world. I have a similar philosophy. It is the only way to service our clients!!!
I’ve always worried over taking an orphan painting of yesteryear and revising it. Somewhat the same as your pilots painting. What was good and pleasing 20 years ago may need a retake today for tomorrows audience!
I have heard of more than one famous artist whose clients were in danger of him visiting and taking his artwork off the wall to “improve” it. Although you did a lovely job altering your friend’s painting I find there comes a time when going back to a painting makes it over worked and it loses the original spontaneity. My husband is the painter in our family and I have been known to say “That one is done. You can do another painting.” Years ago he did a lovely painting of an apple tree in field. I left town to visit my folks and when I returned he had put a transparent wash over the whole thing. It is still a good work of art but it no longer holds my heart.
I am not so sure yours was indeed ”a dumb idea.” I have always believed it is of paramount importance to allow the buyer of your work to feel very comfortable with the sale. I think the ”grab and run money” is a dumb idea. I always include a short story about what inspired the work and how I enjoy the reaction as they hear about the experience. Last week I had a request from a lady in Saskatchewan to purchase one of my books about my dog. I did not recall ever meeting her but I posted a copy of the book and she wrote remembering all about the Steveston area and how much she appreciated the fact that I sent it without a money guarantee. I have often allowed the purchaser to take the work for a week or so to get the feeling if it really fits and my clients respect not having to be stuck with a work that they do not in the long run relate to. My current gallery supports me with this philosophy and the dealer issues a really informative booklet about my work to the buyer after the sale, usually with a little personal note from me. He has even been known to close the gallery while he personally delivers the work if the buyer does not have transport. One buyer had come by bus and bought a 30 x40 and could not get it back home. I do feel that the relationship between artist and buyer is not all about money. There has to develop an element of trust and that ensures that both parties are satisfied.
re dumb idea, as a relatively newcommer i am so pleased to add that the lifetime garantee has worked to build a strong customer relationship with my growing client base i too have revisited a painting recently and after a small costfree alteration 2 friendsof my client ordered a painting each. they both wanted to deal with someone who has empathy in our monet driven world. wow i was pleasently surprised. not so DUMB after all
It is quit possible to create stunning work digitally if sales are the primary object. If however the great joy is in the process and the growing and learning then forget it. I am adept at the computer and use it as a tool every day. But put a brush or pencil in my hand and I’m working from the subconscious artist in me. Not always really good but very satisfying on a much deeper level
Regarding Tatiana Mirkov-Popovicki’s comment about digital art being devalued by printing it on canvas — how so? No media owns canvas any more than parachutes or tents. Canvas to art is simply a vessel which delivers aged wine as well as poo poo.
WOW! A great deal of thought, feeling and effort went into this and like all things in the creative realm all things new will find their audience.
In regards to Don Lambert of Weatherford, Texas. I believe that a painting like any piece of art has another invisible dimension. The dimension of storytelling that the viewer can imagine. The details within the artwork encourage the viewer to participate in the artists purpose for creating the piece. How the artwork is created is one dimension, how the piece is appreciated is another and then the Dimension of imagination and storytelling are limitless!
I agree; a loving attitude always wins out. We love our buyers – or at least appreciate them. If we feel we are being taken advantage of, well, we are free to decline to act. I am sure that you did the right thing to repaint that man’s upper lip and the airplanes. I have spent quite a bit of time repairing smears and fingerprints when people have bought my wet paintings at the Annapolis Region Community Art Centre’s annual fundraiser paint-out (held in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia on the 3rd weekend every August), called Paint the Town (Trademarked). People do not understand how long an oil painting is wet and go to take it out of its pizza box and hang it – and find they’ve made dreadful smears. I happily repair them, leaving a happy person who’ll buy more later. (I don’t have to do this often now as I write on the bid slip that it is a Wet Mess and should be left in its box for two weeks, preferably in a warm place like one’s car or a sunporch.)
You just have to visit The Builders (Canadian Biennial) at the National Gallery of Canada to see that photography, in its many forms, plays a huge part in contemporary art.
Dear Emmett, The wife requesting that a mustache be removed from a painting because she doesn’t like it, which pretty much means it got removed from the person it used to belong to somewhere along the way, is what’s absolutely frivolous here. But I do appreciate your comment. However, what it so obviously describes is just how dysfunctional hetero relationship actually is. I started growing my mustache the week before I graduated from high school. A year later I shaved it off for one day, for a scathing college photographic art project. Although it’s gone through many different incarnations, I’ve never shaved it off again, and never will. And I’m almost 60. This need to change a painting because of a personal piece of relationship crap- unwilling to leave the painted portrait as an actual remembrance of who the person used to be and what the person used to look like is utter female bullshit. I’ll never have a wife or partner of any gender that thinks she/he gets 50% of something she/he didn’t earn.
watercolour painting, 16 x 11 inches by Stass Shpanin, Springfield, MA, USA
“We are the sum of our deeds – good and bad.” Love that line, and I’m going to use it all day. Sweet painting/title/concept. Thanks!