Thursday, June 6, 2013


You are invited to join me on a little project, vicariously as it may be.  I’ve commissioned another painting and would like to take you along for the journey.
Commissioning a painting is a scary thing.  It is much easier to look in a catalogue and point to something you like, order it, and quickly be done with it.  Then all that is left to do is visit the 5 adjoining parishes and visit the exact same statue or painting that dogs your travels like a fast food restaurant.  Who would want to come to you church/home/museum to see something they could go anywhere to see?  How does that inspire?  (When was the last time you got dressed up and made a night of eating at McDonalds?)
The first thing to do (in my book – not all would agree) is find an artist whose style you like and who has created pieces in the past that match what your desires are.  It is important to know your budget right up front.  Have a size and timeline, and basic theme in mind so that a price may be worked out with the artist.  You might suffer from sticker shock so be prepared to say, “Sounds great but I am going to need more time to raise the funds.”


Now here comes the first of the really tricky parts though if you have come this far already, you are very lucky.  How much leeway do you give the artist?  Do you want them to create what is in your head or do you want them to be creative?  Most of the time I look for a happy medium leaning more toward the artist.  If you want a paint-by-numbers painting from your head, don’t expect a priceless work of art.  You have taken away the artist’s inspiration and creativity as they try to simply put color on a canvas from a micromanager.  If that is what you want, hire an artist who paints by the square inch and send them a photo.  (It’s cheaper that way too.)
You do need to have some idea however.  A certain amount of parameters help the creative process.  “I don’t know, do whatever you want” is as unhelpful as micromanaging.  And the right balance changes with the artist.  Some things to be VERY clear about however:  SIZE!  I find artist say, “Yes, yes” . . . and then find that in order to do what they want change the size.  Write it down, state it, and then shake on it.
It is not wrong to have a look at preliminary drawings.  When creating St. Sebastian for example, I might say, “No, no, no!  St. Sebastian was NOT a prepubescent waif,” as many artists seem to want to make him.  Do some research.  The earliest depictions of this saint show him as a white haired older man.  Is that what you want . . .?  What is necessary – what can you live with – what is absolutely out of the question? 
So . . . I have an artist.  Her name is Mother Thomas and she is a cloistered Poor Clare nun in Cleveland.  Learn more about her here.

Also I have a very rough preliminary drawing that we have had a discussion about and now some new sketches are on the way.  I’ll keep you updated. 


Anonymous said...

I am waiting. This better be good. Those sketches make no sense to me.


Anonymous said...

I have read about the power behind Mother Thomas's Art Work. However, the written word paled behind me as I stepped into St. Paul's shrine in Cleveland. "Masterpiece" was also inadequate. The colors, the scale, the subject matter all worked. Furthermore, it brought me to my knees.
Her work shows definite influences of El Greco and Picasso. But, her Passion and love, combined with her faith set this work apart.
Bravo, that you have also added the artist that is consumed by the love of God, to your gallery.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, inspiring article on Mother Thomas. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to following this amazing artist/nun. Somehow, I believe this piece will reveal a deep spiritual reality.

Anonymous said...

I love Mother Thomas. I have seen her work and it is awe inspiring. She is truly gifted but I know she attributes that gift to the Holy God she serves so well and captures so magnificently on canvas.