Yep, I'm still here. I'm just a bit busy what with 4 portraits to do by 15 Dec.
And yes, I said 4. I thought it would be 5, but no photo, no check, no commission. As I told you, last Friday I received a phone call from a lady wanting me to do a portrait for Christmas. We talked about it and I agreed to do it. I told her that she needed to send me the photo (and a check) by Priority Mail so that I could get started on it right away. That was on Friday and she said she'd send it on Saturday. So, it should have arrived on Tuesday. But now it's Thursday and still no photo. I guess I'm not terribly surprised as she had called me before to arrange for a portrait only to never send anything that time either. Part of me is kind of annoyed, because I could use the money, but another part of me is a bit relieved since I will have less work to get done by 15 Dec.
As for the other 4, I'm working on 2. I do one in the morning for upto 3 hours and another in the afternoon for upto 3 hours. These 3 hour periods is about my concentration limit on a single piece. Beyond that and I start getting sloppy. So I work on one, eat lunch, and then start fresh on a different portrait. For me, it works well. (Other artists will work on one portrait until it's done -- even if that's 8+ hours in a row.) If I hadn't had to go into town and buy groceries, I would have finished both of them. As it is, I'll get them done tomorrow and then put them away for a couple of days before doing the final touch-ups. In the meantime, I'll start on the next two.
I've basically decided that I need to finish ALL the commissions (except one) by 31 Dec and then after that, I will do portraits as soon as I get them. I'm tired of having so many laying around, although most clients are happy to wait especially after they see the finished product. (I'm slow, but I'm good!) Still, they act like a weight around my neck and cause me stress just knowing they are yet to be done. I may even start having a "by this date or 25% off" policy, just to get me to do them sooner than later.
Now all this makes it sound like I don't like doing portraits. And that's not quite right. I love them and I have them. The love part has to do with the facts I know I can do them well, I get paid a decent amount for them, and I don't have to 'guess' what the public will buy. The hate part is the "I don't want someone else telling me what to do" and with repeet customers, I have a fear of not living up to past expectations. I've been working hard on getting over these negatives, and I'm making good progress.
Still, I'm very anxious to get back to doing work which is totally my own. I have lots of ideas for still lifes, wildlife art, and even some abstracts. And I want to do some more relief prints -- but no one has ever asked for a relief print of their Uncle Bob!