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Fix My Roof! by Robert Genn

Fix My Roof!
by Robert GennYesterday, Hope Barton of St Augustine, Florida wrote, "I've just finished a commissioned 24" x 48" acrylic on canvas of a client's home. She came to my studio and approved my photos. She wanted the neighbor houses left out and the boardwalk in. There was no mention of the solar panel on the roof. Now she wants the panel taken out. I explained that I would have to repaint the roof, match the colors and possibly have to touch up the tree and the trees in the background. I feel I should be paid extra for this. Also, she might be sorry because this is the way it is. I can't move on until this is settled. What would you do?" 

Thanks, Hope. We've illustrated your photo and painting at the top of the current clickback. I'd remove that solar panel faster than an ibis can peck his reflection in it. I'd do it for free. I'd tell her that you remove solar panels for free and charge to put them back. While your client is to be commended for having one on her roof and may later regret she didn't advertise her greenness, it's her prerogative to leave it out of her commissioned painting.

Clients can make unusual demands. While many client complaints are legitimate, they often have something to do with the retaking of power. You are lucky on this one--with the covering strength of acrylic, it'll be a piece of cake.

One of my more notable requests, the removal of an offending phallus from an otherwise anthropologically correct totem pole, has been previously told here. There's a slide show of that particular commission in progress here


I solved my dilemma by making the client a cutout, Velcro-attaching unit to go on the painting in the event that those things ever came back into style.

Then there was the time a guy asked me to paint him and his girlfriend arm in arm. By the time I delivered (a couple of weeks later) the girlfriend was history and he needed me to take her out. As there was no replacement girlfriend, I just put a soft blur in there and a little tag that said, "Watch this spot." I charged half price. I was not so happy with the girl myself.  

Sometimes a portrait is delivered and the commissioner finds the work not flattering enough. I've had people say they didn't think they were that "plain." An effective, though friend-losing comeback: "Madame, I am a painter, not a plastic surgeon."

Best regards,


PS: After 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambroise Vollard:
"I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front." (Paul Cezanne)

Esoterica: Not all painters understand that in a commissioned piece, the copyright goes to the commissioner. This is different than when a customer walks into a gallery or your studio and buys a painting. In that case the copyright stays with the artist for as long as he or his estate wants to hold it. In the case of commissions, my rationale is that the commissioner has the right to get what she wants. Sometimes, early on, you get the feeling there may be trouble ahead. In this case you need to mail them some brushes.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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