I had received news a painting sold. I was 16 and I was so excited. I had just had my first one woman show and opening at a gallery in Mendocino and the work was still up for a few months. Sweet Judith, the owner of the gallery, had called to tell me “Lillies of the field” had sold and the person who purchased it wanted my contact info. Her name was Ms. Potwin and she would be contacting me. At the time I had no idea why she would want to contact me, I was so full of excitement over the sale I was floating somewhere up in the clouds above our actual phone conversation, my ears heard Judith’s words, but my brain had not processed beyond “a painting sold”.
Eventually I received a letter from Ms. Potwin thanking me for the painting and requesting a commission. Uh oh. The stress, the anxiety! What if she doesn’t like it? How do I know what I make is what she wants? Letter in hand I ran into the studio. “Dad! Ms. Potwin wants a commission!” “That’s great Marie!”. Uh, no, it was not great, it was scary. I was so insecure, I flooded my dad with all my questions. He calmly responded, “she wouldn’t ask you to paint her another painting if she didn’t love your art, just relax, don’t worry about it, she will like it.” Not fully trusting that this was true, I set to work. After we shipped it off I remember checking the mail every day eager for her letter letting us know she received her painting. When the letter finally arrived palms sweating I opened it half expecting her to politely thank me but continue to say something wasn’t quite right and she would be sending the painting back. How surprised I was when I read her kind words about how happy her new painting made her that she wanted to commission another painting.
Little did I know Ms. Potwin would contact me many more times over the next few years, commissioning me to do 18 more paintings for her. I am so thankful to Ms. Potwin for her support and trust in me. This experience taught me so much about myself and gave me the chance to explore and grow as an artist, all while learning about her as one of my first collectors. I learned that clients and artists have an emotional connection, someone is not going to buy a piece of art unless they have some kind of emotional connection to it and when you get a chance to bring someone else’s visions to life, that connection gets stronger and stronger.
I still get anxious when I receive a commission but now that anxiety is accompanied with so much excitement for the process of exploring what my client wants. Listening to their words and trying to sense the feelings they are actually sharing with me I feel so privileged they trust me to expose those feelings open on a canvas for all to see, but really for only them to understand. It truly is an amazing privilege. Thank you Ms. Potwin.