When do you call it quits? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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When do you call it quits?

I am working on a portrait for somebody of her dog and I just can't seem to get it right. I have submitted 3 different rough sketches for her and she is not satisfied with any of them. Initially, I was annoyed and thought she was being too picky, but when I stood back and looked at the sketch, I could see the points she was making. Now I am just frustrated with "myself". Granted, she did provide a rather bad photograph of her dog to draw from, but that still shouldn't be hindering my ability to at least get in a decent rough sketch. She has already paid me half up front and I am going crazy trying to capture her little dog. Whenever I e-mail an updated sketch and she replies, my heart starts pounding and I close my eyes for a minute praying she approves before I begin reading.

I've had picky clients before, but always managed to make them happy (well, not really. I did have one person tell me I made her horse look like a ******ed mule, and just didn't bother to redo the drawing for her as it was for a fundraiser and she hadn't paid me yet anyway...lol). I am really beating myself up over this drawing because it's something "I" am lacking. Every critique the owner says is valid and I am more bothered by that than if it was just a snotty client with too many demands.

Ok, so I've rambled on way too long here. Has anyone ever had a situation where they just couldn't keep the customer happy no matter what they tried? Have you ever just said to the client "Look, I don't think I can help you. Here's your money back." I don't want to go that route, but this drawing is really wearing me out and making me question myself as a reputable artist. The more I work on the drawing, the more I resent it and I am sure it's not helping me do this darling dog justice. At what point do you just call it quits and move on to the next portrait?
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post #2 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 05:54 PM
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If you were closer, I'd be handing you a stiff drink and giving you a pat on the back.
Welcome to frustrating clients!!
Interestingly, I find that it is generally the freebies or discounted portraits that attract the most frustrating clients. As artists we are expected to produce something from nothing, a tiny, pixilated, blurry mobile phone photograph is expected to be made into an A2, pastel portrait containing great detail. Sometimes I just want to hand them my pastels and tell them to do a better job!

My current portrait, in graphite, is a freebie for a friend that I squeezed in before xmas just because she is a friend. The photo's were from mobile phones, in terrible lighting, with very little detail visible. The dog was do-able, but the cat was near impossible, I couldn't blow it up to more than 1inch in diameter or it would turn into an unrecognisable blob.
And yep, I got the disillusioned 'oh' when I gave it to her. I'll put the photo's and drawing up in my journal shortly!


Could you cheat on this one? Trace it off the computer? I've been doing that lately as I've just been so rushed trying to squeeze them all in for christmas, tracing the basic figure cuts out a huge amount of time, and then you just need to worry about your detailed work rather than the proportions.


Good luck, I don't envy you :S
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post #3 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equusketch View Post
I am working on a portrait for somebody of her dog and I just can't seem to get it right. I have submitted 3 different rough sketches for her and she is not satisfied with any of them. Initially, I was annoyed and thought she was being too picky, but when I stood back and looked at the sketch, I could see the points she was making. Now I am just frustrated with "myself". Granted, she did provide a rather bad photograph of her dog to draw from, but that still shouldn't be hindering my ability to at least get in a decent rough sketch. She has already paid me half up front and I am going crazy trying to capture her little dog. Whenever I e-mail an updated sketch and she replies, my heart starts pounding and I close my eyes for a minute praying she approves before I begin reading.

I've had picky clients before, but always managed to make them happy (well, not really. I did have one person tell me I made her horse look like a ******ed mule, and just didn't bother to redo the drawing for her as it was for a fundraiser and she hadn't paid me yet anyway...lol). I am really beating myself up over this drawing because it's something "I" am lacking. Every critique the owner says is valid and I am more bothered by that than if it was just a snotty client with too many demands.

Ok, so I've rambled on way too long here. Has anyone ever had a situation where they just couldn't keep the customer happy no matter what they tried? Have you ever just said to the client "Look, I don't think I can help you. Here's your money back." I don't want to go that route, but this drawing is really wearing me out and making me question myself as a reputable artist. The more I work on the drawing, the more I resent it and I am sure it's not helping me do this darling dog justice. At what point do you just call it quits and move on to the next portrait?
Partly would be depending on what you are charging. If it were an expensive piece then I would expect them to be more picky. I commend you though for understanding that it is an issue that is justified and at some point if the majority of your clients are not happy then something needs to change.
Move on to the next portrait and then go back to this one and maybe things will be clearer
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post #4 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 06:34 PM
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I just peeked at your album. While some portraits I liked some others looked off. Not sure how you can get more consistancy.
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post #5 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 06:36 PM
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I haven't had to give up on a client , yet, but I've come really close to. I think when I've done 3 or 4 renditinons, and none are satisfying, even to myself, then I would say to the client, here's your money back, I can't do your pet, but I'll give you the name of another person who can . (if you know someone).

I should trade with you if I get one that I get stuck on.

Also, it helps to have another person look at your work and the reference photos to see any inconsistrencies. My hubby is really good at that, and I've learned to not get too prickly about his comments.

Can you show us the photos and your work? We can perhaps help you?
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post #6 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice everybody. Churumbeque, I really need to update my album because most of those drawings are very old and I have gotten much better since then. I redid the rough sketch one last time and at this point if the owner still isn't happy, I'm going to have to start all over because I just can't keep erasing and moving things around. I went ahead and just got started on doing some of the detail work in hopes that it will look more like "her" dog. It's looking more like her, but I am still not 100% satisfied and am ready to pull my hair out!!!

When I have time I will scan the photograph and upload it here.
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post #7 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by churumbeque View Post
I just peeked at your album. While some portraits I liked some others looked off. Not sure how you can get more consistancy.

Without seeing the reference photos, how would you know if they were inconsistent? I mean with out the reference photo, we cannot see if they do or do not catch the essense of the person or horse.
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post #8 of 18 Old 12-17-2011, 07:05 PM
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Exactly Tiny :)
I know my work can look inconsistent if you don't see the reference, work from a good photograph is going to look much better than one from a poor photograph from which we need to guess on details.

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post #9 of 18 Old 12-18-2011, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Without seeing the reference photos, how would you know if they were inconsistent? I mean with out the reference photo, we cannot see if they do or do not catch the essense of the person or horse.
Some looked cartoonish and I doubt they were accurate.
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post #10 of 18 Old 12-19-2011, 03:05 AM
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Have you tried using the grid method? You just measure out a grid over the top of the reference picture and then draw a larger grid with the same dimensions on the sheet of paper you are sketching on. Then you have some guidelines to work with, as you can see which square the head is mostly in, etc. It's a good way for measuring proportions which has been used for centuries. :) Once you're satisfied with how it looks, you can trace your own drawing onto the final sheet of paper.

Of course, if your reference has lots of lens distortion and other problems that you want to change, it won't be as much help because it only shows you how to draw exactly like the photo.

Hope that helps!
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