Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Rootpond Clock & Considerations on Artistic Conversation

THIS BURNT ORANGE TREE grows on my most recent Once Upon O'Clock, completed a couple of months ago. The Rootpond Clock I called it... there at the roots of this autumnal tree is a circular clock-pond, and by it stands a woman. She is animal-tender, earth-mother, and she replenishes the time-pool from her jug. Gathered at the water's edge and in-between the hours are four animals who have come to drink: badger, owl, cat and fox.
It is painted in the umbers of this leaf-browning time of year and on a thick slice of oak.

Now, I have not shown you this work straight away, for by it lies a tale, and a sorry one at that.
But it has thrown up interesting questions and made me think of things I'd like to discuss, and so that is what I shall do. But first, I'll tell you how it happened:

A lady commissioned this clock some time ago, and as with all of you who have asked for a Once Upon O'Clock, I added her name, details and imagery requests to my ever-growing Clock List. She asked for an earth mother, but as a young woman, with long flowing hair. This young earth mother was to be a sort of female Francis of Assisi figure with animals about her - tabby cat, badger and fox in particular - and it was all to be painted in the muted colours of autumn.

Time went by, as it does, and this clock's turn came. I painted it, as I do all the others you've seen: an interpretation of the ideas given to me by the commissioner. The imagery I paint comes from my internal world. I am given suggestions of visuals and things-to-be-included, but then I sieve it all through my eyes and heart and it comes out looking like a Rima-painting. This, I think, is why those who ask me to paint things for them ask me. This may seem to some of you like a strange and obvious thing to say, but my idea of this fundamental basis of commissioning artwork has been unseated somewhat by this lady's reaction to my work.

You see, she was not happy with it. After some time of not hearing whether or not the clock had arrived with her safely, I received a short email from her informing me that she was disappointed with the clock, that the figure did not look enough like an earth-mother (too much like a maid, she said), that the bark was coming away slightly from the edge of the clock, and could she have a refund.

Being far more an artist with my heart in my belly and belly in my heart than a cool, rational, businesswoman, I felt quite devastated to hear these words. This is the first time someone has been unhappy with a work I've created for them, and I took it utterly to heart. My tentatively held glass-vase of an idea that I was perhaps good at what I do tumbled to the floor and shattered to smithereens. Not being able to see this from a safe distance, I read these few email-words as a judgement not only upon every painting I had ever made, but on the fundamental quality of my own self. Foreseeing an ending of my clockmaking, I retreated and sat with my thoughts for a spell.

These charged emotions and somewhat irrational reactions slithered back to their dark cobwebby corners as they eventually do. And with the encouragement and wise council of those whose opinions I value most, I found that I emerged from my panic a little wobbly-legged, but more clear-sighted. So I wrote a reply.

I decided that it was important to be honest about all the thoughts that this threw up in me, and to stress the importance which I place in all my dealings with people, artistic or otherwise, on good feeling between those involved.

Most important of all the questions here, it seems to me, is that concerning the subjectivity of artistic interpretation. I had assumed (perhaps naively) that everyone who commissions a work of art from an artist is aware that the final piece is an unknown entity to both the artist and the commissioner, until it is finished. The commissioner may give suggestions for imagery, inspiration, feel, colour etc, but ultimately it will be a piece of art in that artist's style, unmistakably their sort of work. The commissioner takes a risk in requesting an original piece of art to be made: they may not like it, they may love it, but it will certainly always be a surprise. I always dread the moment of handing over a piece of artwork, because there's inevitably a pause while the recipient absorbs what's in front of them, and a fragile artistic self esteem can read all sorts of horrors in that silence!

All this said, I feel that I did paint what was asked for. The painting is in keeping with all the other clocks I have made thus far, and so cannot have shocked my customer by being different. I was, and still am, baffled at her quibble. As for the mention of bark coming away from the clock a little.. this I'd have been more than happy to fix if she'd asked, and is something that may crop up from time to time, these being rustic clocks painted on chunks of wood that I find.

What I found most galling, though, was the use of the word refund. It calls to mind department stores and returns counters where people queue with their receipts. I am an individual making work to custom order, by hand. These are utterly different worlds, and I think that the wonderful people who do commission art directly from artists, or buy from etsy sellers appreciate this and indeed prefer it to the effluent of mass-produced, generic and soulless goods that line the shelves of the shops that line our streets.
Now I'm aware that many artists and craftspeople operate sound businesses online. In this sphere there are those who have well organised "refunds/returns policies", but I am not one of them. My clocks take time to make, I paint slowly, and these weeks cannot ever be "refunded". There was no acknowledgement of this in the complaint I received from my commissioner, which is why her short request for a refund was difficult to take.

Now to the question of money: Though I happily make my living from my artwork, I teeter on the poverty line mostly, and this has always been normality for me. So, after spending some weeks in all making The Rootpond Clock alongside other pieces of work and life, I was quite pleased to be paid the £250 clock price - it cushioned the echoing bottom of my bank account.
But you see my dilemma - even if I was willing to offer a "refund", I could not, for the clock money was all my wealth until the next job was done. And so I considered another possible option which would resolve the situation as best as possible and end with us both feeling good. I thought I could offer the clock for sale again to somebody out there, one of you, who might love it more than the person I painted it for. And then I could give the money received in its resale back to the lady in question. But the tale remains unresolved I'm sad to say. I received a confusing and retaliatory reply to my letter, and no answer in respect of my suggestion. So the clock remains with her, and the confusion remains with me.
In fact I am mostly sad to think that a thing I made with care and attention is in the hands of someone who does not like or want it, and that there has been any bad feeling, because that is always the last thing I want. I intend only good dealings with folk and good outcomes. But, I suppose there is a misunderstanding here which leaves us at an impasse where we cannot move forward, or at least this is what I assume by her silence.

This whole turn of events has made me consider what I might need to rethink in the way I do business and art. Where I had assumed it known that the interpretation of an idea will be left in the hands of the artist to make her own, I feel now that I should write a preemptive warning explaining this, and highlighting the element of subjectivity and leaping into the unknown.
Rough sketches could be sent to the customer before I load my paintbrushes with paint, but this is not really how I like to work. Too much control in the hands of the commissioner kills the spark for me - readjustments sent back and forth weigh a project heavier into the ground and leave me wondering who is making the artwork. In general I do not spend a great deal of time making preliminary sketches because I like that explosion of creative fire that happens when a drawing starts to work to occur during the actual piece rather than the rough sketch, because otherwise the final work would just be a copy of something that worked, but without the fire. My sketches are very rough - just notes telling me where things will be placed in the frame.

Something I often ponder and marvel at is the wonder of this online world we inhabit. Blogging has become a brilliant, inspiring and encouraging part of my work. I owe the fact that I can work alone where and when I want, making the work I love, and be financially supported doing so, to the internet, and ultimately to all of you many wonderful people whom I have never met. At times I find this web-world overwhelming and mad, and I do try to keep a certain distance from the ever-present information stream. But all of your many wonderful comments touch me deeply, and I thank you for them. It constantly amazes me that there are people out there reading the things I write and looking at and buying the things I paint. But it seems to continue, and I am immensely grateful for it.

This odd world where we are all connected and aware of a layer of each other is a strange sort of conversation, and I am very interested in the purpose it serves amongst all the other elements of our lives, particularly where this intersects with the making of art, which is itself a sort of conversation. Those of us who make visual art offer our work as a saying, as an expression of something, not in the language of words, but in the language of eye and heart and hand. Mostly this is one half of a conversation, and the people who are touched by the work speak the answer in their own language of eye and heart and hand when the art rings a bell in them. This is a profoundly human experience and vital, I think, to the wellbeing of humanity.
So isn't it wonderful how we have stretched this conversation like a fisherman's net over the whole world, placing between the participants in these artistic conversations great distance, and time in some cases, and incredible pieces of technology. But the humanity remains, and that is what touches me about this conversation that you and I have here. It is real and heart-opening for us all.
I delight in seeing visitors on that counter down there on the sidebar from countries I've never heard of! How did you reach me? What kind of lives do you have? What are your days, your houses, your dreams like? And those of you who place orders in my shop with delightfully outlandish addresses! - Hello! How excellent is this artistic conversation! How perfectly true and inspiring!

I welcome your words here and your thoughts on these matters. What do you think about my clock dilemma? Have you had a similar experience? Or do you have wise advice to share? Here amongst my ramblings are pictures of The Rootpond Clock, which now after a little time of consideration I am proud of again.

Apologies for this screed, but I wanted to show you an honest corner of myself and give you a glimpse of the work derailing, as it does from time to time. And I wanted too to express how valuable this place is, this stopping place in the forest, this Hermitage, to me, because of all of you who come here and throw your own herbs onto the fire. I think it's a subversive magic we can make by creating from our hearts in word and paint and passing along our creations under the school desks of our manufactured and ill-governed societies, to inspire a remembering of ourselves in songs sung in our true language.


Anonymous said...

I would have suggested exactly the same compromise - that it be offered to another buyer and then the money could be "refunded" to her that way. I can't imagine what problem she could have with that resolution. It boggles the mind that someone would expect a full and immediate refund on a piece of art they specifically commissioned (and which, besides being absolutely lovely, is also entirely in keeping with the style and quality they would expect from seeing your other work). It's such a negation of the time and care and talent that goes into your work. But don't be discouraged by one bad apple!

lea said...

ist for nearly 30 years....occasionally i have failed to read the mind of a commissioner...occasionally i receive a request from a person so out of tune with me,my work and the spiritual nature of art and its whirrings that no amount of grinding of teeth and throwing of brushes can evince a painting either of us are happy with.
i shrug and move on...after a bit of a tantrum,a few tears and a cup of tea.
you cannot please everyone,all you can do is stay true to yourself and feel sorry for the folk who think the whole of life is to be lived ike a transaction at primark.

Basht said...

I think if she really looked at your art then she would see that you created what she asked for. And maybe she is expecting you to change your vision or voice for her idea as she wants it. But if she doesn't state specifically then how are you to know?
Personally, I love this clock.
And her comment that the earth mother looks to be a maid... no, she looks like a hard working mother, caring for her creations.
I believe that you offered a good compromise and be happy to know that even if she can't see the beauty of it, we can.

Elderberry-Rob said...

What a shame your clock is not loved or wanted, possibly even resented - time is money in my opinion and what the lady paid for was your time, the clock was the end result, the time has been spent and so has the money. Not your fault and how sad that you have been left feeling there is something wrong in your intepretation of her commission - you must realise that your work is very special and unique, unfortunately you got somebody who wanted art, but didn't understand that it would be your art and not hers! Keep on creating. xxx

LittleInsect said...

She seems to have a very strange view of what it means to be an artist or artisan.
If you commission any work from such a person, then you must accept the end result.
After all, it's not just your fingers whe's paying for, but your mind, your thoughts, and your ability to express them.
You would'nt commission Lowry to do a painting and expect it to look like a Constable, after all.

Take heart Rima - the fault lies with her, not yourself.

And if I had £250 to spare, I'd buy it. It's beautiful

Erynn said...

You haven't posted a screed at all. You aren't screaming and hysterical and casting aspersions upon the person who has made an unreasonable request for the circumstances you're in. I think the compromise you offered was quite reasonable, and that you do actually have a right to say no if you wish. Your website says nothing about guaranteed satisfaction or your money back.

I'm sorry she doesn't like it, but she should not be able to keep your work and the money as well.

Please don't lose your faith in yourself or your art. You might want to put a specific note on your blog saying that you do not offer refunds, so that no one will expect them. On the off chance (and one occurrence in all this time is an off chance) that someone is, for some reason, dissatisfied, they will then know up front that this is your policy and that they receive what you have made -- which may not necessarily be exactly what they envisioned.

I hope that this won't discourage you from taking further commissions. I know I'm happy to be on your list and am eagerly awaiting the day when I hear from you that you're ready to start on my clock. I've seen enough of your style to know that I'll be delighted with it when it arrives.

Gwen said...

Dear Rima,

I've been checking in with your blog for about a year. I usually do when I have time to sit and go through older posts and become absorbed in your art. I use your blog as a source of relaxation and inspiration and a reminder that my head use to spend time with fairies and other worlds. :)

I've never commented here before but this post has compelled me to promptly write this: do not go through any more contortions to make this person happy. As I've spent time with your blog, I've imagined what sort of images I would like to commission (should I ever have the means to do so. And by the way, so jealous of the tarot card commission. Those were fantastic). There can be no misunderstanding, at least in general, of what the final piece would look like.

If it puts your mind at ease for future commissions, you should let those customers know, up front, how you work (i.e., no sketches, no "suggestions" from the commissioner, etc.).

I must reassert that anyone reading here can clearly see what your work is. Please don't let this sort of thing inhibit your creativity.

jfidz said...

A beautiful clock and a very considered record of your thoughts and feelings Rima. Perhaps she is having second thoughts and has come to love the piece as she should have done in the first place. Maybe her friends have commented on the exquisite workmanship and delicate imagery, and have gently persuaded her that she is indeed fortunate to own such an original and unique artwork.

Shelley Noble said...

Obviously, it's a successful Rima piece. It's beautiful work, as always.

I suspect what you'll end up doing to redress these situations is to include a brief, incredibly poetically written, notice in the initial ordering process that simply explains that you make the works from your soul and that the commissioner knowingly places the order as such. That the commission is the same as a final sale because your time and attention is what they are purchasing.

Except I suspect you'll say it in your astonishingly beautiful language, akin to:

"Those of us who make visual art offer our work as a saying, as an expression of something, not in the language of words, but in the language of eye and heart and hand. Mostly this is one half of a conversation, and the people who are touched by the work speak the answer in their own language of eye and heart and hand when the art rings a bell in them... "

anita said...

Oh, I know the sting of the smallest rejection...Especially when your have poured so much of yourself into the rejected object. I don't do special orders anymore because they tend to pull me away from myself and ruin the fun...But in so doing I miss the adventure...by guarding my fragile heart. I think you have dealt with the entire situation reasonably and with mercy. The clock is wonderful and the imagery, spot on, to her request...combined with the depth of your insight to create a beautiful piece of art exactly of your own style. But... I think I will never see a clock I love so much as the Hedge hog with umbrella...I faithfully visit your Etsy shoppe in hopes I might find a print of it...hint hint

lindsey said...

Aw chuck. Sorry to hear this....I've always admired your dedication to living a life of art & what that entails. The living on the very edge financally, having only what you need/can scrape together. I cannot really believe that anyone who reads your blog or has an interest in your art doesn't realise that this is your life, it's not a 'business venture' . For me, commisions are utterly dreaded. I just don't even accept them now. So I can well understand why you limit their business-like nature in order to actually do them...it's such a slippery thing anyway - creating..you do a sketch and then your paintbrush refuses to follow it.

I would say a disclaimer is good....and this also highlights the fact that you really cannot afford to be messed about, so I would suggest you ask for a non_refundable deposit as well, something which would pay you a wage per hour...if you're anything like every other artist then the cost of the clock is your hours at below minimum wage which is *not right*... your clocks are worth more *especially commissioned* ...

At the risk of writing my own blog post in your comments ;) i'll just say - it's a beautiful clock. It's worth more than you sold it for. And thank you for writing about it aswell...not everyone would but it's your openess about your work which really makes this an artist's artist blog. Xx

Sarah said...

I think , unfortunately, that it's inevitable that sooner or later you have to deal with an awkward customer. It seems to me you did exactly what she asked for and the result is another beautiful soulful clock. Don't allow this single negative experience to have any long lasting effect - think of all your satisfied customers!

Regarding your thoughts about advising future customers about commissioning artwork maybe you could have an information page on the website (And perhaps your blog) which explains how you work,the process of commissioning, and why it is not possible to describe exactly how a clock will turn out. You could also state here that because of the process and time involved it is not possible to offer refunds - that will ensure you don't have to deal with this kind of situation again.

ramona said...

First let me say that I for one would love to be the proud owner of this beautiful clock if it should become available. The imagery of the gentle and generous earth mother filling the well for all creatures to drink from has touched me as I read this post....
As a fellow artist I have to remind my self that if I wish to show others my work I must be ready for criticism.
In kindergarten when we were sharing with the class our drawings, it came my turn to hold mine up for the class to see. What is your drawing of? asked the teacher, to which I replied "it's a yellow milk man's hand".
The class laughed uproariously as my face turned red and I sank back into my chair.
I have laid my brushes aside time and again thinking that I don't have what it takes for the business side of being an artist .
Thank you for sharing your story and for letting us share ours at your beautiful and generous well.

Kat_RN said...

I am sorry that you had to deal with that. A disclamer should not be needed, but then again might be a good idea. Your work is special because it is unique. You put time and talent into your work and the time can not be refunded.
I hope it all works well in the end. In the mean time, I enjoy sharing this little corner of the big wide world with you and seeing your work(I am reading you from South Carolina in the US).

thewoodlanders said...

Hi Rima,

My heart goes out to you and your beautiful beautiful clock. In fact, I was considering commissioning a clock from you which would look remarkably like this one and now the history of it makes me even more tied to it in my heart. What I cannot give you though is time - ironically enough. I may be in a position to buy the clock from you in a month (new possible/probable job on the horizon) so if it is still available then, I will happily buy it from you.
Obviously I know that you wish for a quick resolution to the situation so that you can move on, but please know that I am genuinely interested. I am on twitter if you need to explore more options.

Anna Guess Pick said...

Oh Rima I can feel your pain, the hurt when one of your offspring is rejected. I hope this one incident will not alter the way you approach your business. When a person commissions a piece of art, surly it is with an understanding of the artist's work. The Rootpond Clock is very much Rima. I hope the customer takes you up on the offer to resell it for her "refund" I am sure there would be a line to take the offer.

In time the hurt will subside, Rima, but sadly a small fleck of it will stick there on your heart forever. But it will be quite small almost unnoticeable.

Love you always,

sara koncilja said...

Thank you, Rima, for sharing this story with us, even if it doesn't have a happy ending. As a beginner in illustration I have had my work turned down and complained about many times, but I always try to remember that it is better to be satisfied with what you do and your client not happy about it, than the other way around, trying to fulfill everybody's expectations and forget what your art is all about. Stay true to yourself and create art that is part of your world, welcome those who come to visit with their hearts and minds open and never mind the others.

I wish you clear visions through the autumn mists and calm places to create in.

Heather at Mad Rose Creations said...

to me creating art can be like magic. you can cast your spell but you can never be quite sure of the results.

this clock, as all of your work that i have seen, has magic about it. it inspires one to slow down and observe. to see if the next time one spys a fox the expression might match what you painted. or the next time one comes across tangled roots to maybe look for the wee spirits living amongst them.

not to speak of someone i have not heard from, i'm not sure your client fully understands what she now seems reluctant to part with. some people are like this. they see the tangible item and not what it is, a piece of you, of your magic.

i think the offer you presented as far as selling it to someone else so that she could regain her money, was an excellent solution. i'm not sure how else you could remedy the situation. i just wish i was able to assist you, and purchase a clock to help balance out this unsettling encounter. but alas, our financial circumstances seem to mirror each other.

if all this makes no sense allow me to end with this. beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (and maybe this person just had their eyes closed, or at least needs glasses)(a grin and hug)

yoborobo said...

It's a beautiful clock. A fabulous, wonderful, magical clock. It deserves a good home, some place where it will be loved and admired daily. I understand not wanting your commissions 'dictated'. It's the same reason I can't 'write for hire'. It kills the whole experience for me. I wish you much luck in resolving this, and I hope your clock finds a new home. :) Pam

Eva said...

This is strange story. The clock you have made is wonderful, just as wonderful as the others I have seen, and it deserves to be loved and appreciated. Had you put this clock on Etsy, I am sure it would have sold within minutes.
The responses you got from that apparently discontented lady give the impression that she isn't really interested in reaching an agreement. I have a vague feeling that hers may be a crooked little agenda (keeping the clock and getting her "refund"/ "discount", perhaps?).
Good dealings can conly be done with good folk, Rima, but not all of us are.
Your art brings much joy to this world, please do not let this experience sadden you.

Kelly Anne Dalton said...

Beautifully said.

I, too, would feel the same way if faced with the situation you just dealt with. I face fleeting worry when I am commissioned to create a piece for someone. What they have in their head and what my hand will create can be two very different images. I can only listen to them describe what they would like, and create it to the best of my ability. When I worry, I need to remind myself that they sought out my work and my style. When creating a piece, I am true to myself, and must trust that the piece work will come to life as it was intended.

I feel for you, and can only imagine the heartbreak you must have felt upon reading that e-mail. You are amazing both with your art, and with your words. Your clock is beautiful, and judging from the comments above, you would be hard-pressed to find another person who believed differently.

Aaron-Paul said...

Hey Rima keep doing what you are doing , your artistry in paintings and in words is wondrous, the lady in question does not understand the meaning of the word artist of which you are one of the best i have had the pleasure to meet, admire your work and lucky enough to purchase a piece of your work.

Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

I think you are right in every way...and I find it sad that the commissioner felt the need to find any faults in the piece and missed out on the amazing beauty and detail...not to mention love and care...that was evident in each artistic stroke of your brush. Her loss...either way. Stick to your guns...and do what you know. And don't let her throw you...your voice in the world of art and creativity is completely and totally unique from anyone else...and it's beautiful. Stay true to you...xoxo

Worker Bee said...

Your post reminds me of a similar post on Jackie Morris's blog having to do with art and business.


I found both Ms. Morris and your posts very enlightening for the art consumer. Some people really have no idea how much work goes into the creative process. By no means should you give a refund. It was a commissioned piece and one in which you incorporated her requests. It appears that perhaps this person is not familiar with how commissioning an art piece works. I am not suggesting any evil intent or maliciousness on her part... just a misunderstanding. My ONLY suggestion is the same as what has already been offered. Make a standard notation in your "sales policies" where there are no refunds for commissioned work and if someone has questions on the process to please discuss it with you prior to making a request.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Dear Rima,

First the clock. Its so arresting with its roundness, the slice of wood, the round pond, reminds me of the round earth itself. Her strong, capable hands (not maidenly!) pouring from a sturdy pot to quench the animal's thirst. The trusting poses of the animals,
they are very true.
By the very nature of a commmission, the purchaser is buying in part the artist's vision.
I understand so well taking on such commmissions. But I get very nervous if the customer begins to add too many details. I know I will never be able to replicate what they are seeing in their head.
Its a dream, your clock. Don't let your wonderful abilities be shaken.

Laura {Gypsea Tree} said...

I am sorry for the pain that this interaction has caused you. Your work is so very beautiful and moving. I discovered your blog a few years back when I was new to the whole blogging scene in general. I spent many many wonderful hours reading through your archives and enjoying your work. Thank you for your honesty and the magic that you share with your writing and your painting. I always leave your corner feeling deeply inspired.
I have a distinct memory from when I was very little of gazing out the window in my parents living living room and seeing a little village of gnomes living in a grove of trees across the street. As an adult, such things seem silly and impossible, but I clearly remember waving at a funny little green man in a pointy hat and him waving back. Your work recalls that kind of lost wonderment for me and I thank you for that.
All the best to you and I'm sure your clock made with such love and care will find it's way into a loving home whether you ever hear from the original buyer or not.

mythopolis said...

I love all the things you do, and am thankful I have internet so I can look at such things. I built one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture for many years, working only with fallen trees I managed to get my hands on. I would never take a commission that had too many specific requirements. If it was to be a table, I only needed some approximate dimensions. If they weren't happy with what I created, I simply sold it elsewhere to someone who liked it.

You have a sweet heart....hold on to it!

Rhealicious said...

Hi Rima,

personally, I think the clock is gorgeous. And I love your honesty regarding the story and your thoughts.
I am not sure what to advice you for this case, but in future, you might consider getting yourself written terms of service, saying exactly what you said here: ":...an interpretation of the ideas given to me by the commissioner. The imagery I paint comes from my internal world. I am given suggestions of visuals and things-to-be-included, but then I sieve it all through my eyes and heart and it comes out looking like a Rima-painting."

I think this puts it perfectly, and also it puts it very clear. You might look into other artist´s contracts with their customers, or maybe you have some lawyer friend who could help you with the wording and the legal part (also defining downpayments, refunds, due dates and other things).

Yes, I know as a freelancer and artist this is not how one wants to do business. But it might save you from similar cases in the future. And it may keep people from thinking they can mess with you.

Wishing you the best, lots of colored leaves and november mists and hoar frost covering the windows.
Love from Vienna, Rhea(licious)

Nita Van Zandt said...

She doesn't deserve to keep your wonderful clock! It needs a better home. If someone should step forward to claim it for a more understanding owner, then the clock can travel forward to an appreciative home.

A disclaimer would be a good idea for future sales, but let the sweet all around you overtake the sourness of this particular transaction and not darken your soul any longer.

mermaiden said...

Rima, I make commissioned pieces as well, and I accept them hesitantly every time for this very reason. I would so much rather create the object and have someone fall in love with it as it is; but there is a magical transference that happens when someone sees your work and they imagine your soulful hands interpreting their fond desires.
How to say no? How to make wishes come true?
I am tense and distracted every time I send something out, until I hear the client exclaim their pleasure.
I have only had a bad interaction once, but it certainly did leave a lingering nastiness for me, and I am ever so much more careful now. Which actually gives me peace.

Go on spinning your magic webs.

Slbma said...

how sad that this lady did not see the beauty in your clock... I think it would be a shame to have to write a disclaimer - somehow it takes the magic out of commissioning the artist and wondering what their interpretation might be... I simply cannot imagine WHY this clock was not received with love.

I have just commissioned two paintings for my little boat and I simply cannot wait to see what the artist has come up with. Of course, I am fond of her work to date, but ultimately I do not have any preconceived ideas of how she has interpreted my words about what I wanted... but this - THIS is the wonder of original art.

I hope this little blip does not discourage you too much or for too long x

Gerry Snape said...

I'm so sorry that this has happened to you. We have over our 30 years of business had similar upsets. There will always be people who expect more than we are able to give and who do not realise the knife edge of finance that most artists work on.I love your work so much. It is sensitive and wonderfully executed. Your skill and techniques are quite amazing. This is in the end the buyers loss. Loss of compassion as well as loss of face. Best wishes for the next project!!

Aoife.Troxel said...

I think the clock is lovely and I am sorry it turned out that she didn't like it and that the ensuing communication was so...wanting of common sense (on her side).
But, I am amazed that this is the first time your work has not been liked by a customer. That is wonderful in itself! Draw on all the other people who loved it because there must be so many times over more people who love it than who don't. Count also every follower of your blog as a lover of your art.
I am only sorry the clock has to be unhappy in its present situation.

mckenzie said...

Your work is incredible. I mean, it really blows my mind how much control you have over paint. I'm a micron pen kind of person and acrylics and oil have never been my thing. I completely relate to your process though, as far as sketching goes. So far I have only made two custom illustrations (with a few more in progress) and giving in preliminary sketches is NOT for me. I'll share them before I use watercolors over the pen, but I'm hopeless with a pencil. There's a sort of magic that happens when you aren't thinking too hard. It's a form of meditation, and that's not something you can effectively plan out. (Especially when it comes to expressions in faces...) I really think there's some sort of spirit that embodies my hand and mind for those quick bursts of initial creative expression. Usually I draw something and then wonder where in the world it came from! Don't be discouraged. Stick to your guns, but maybe a disclaimer would be good. Unfortunately there are people out there who have absolutely no artistic flame and can't comprehend how painful a rejection like that can be. Also, I want to offer that maybe we could arrange a trade sometime. :)

Jenny said...

This clock is beautiful. It has your unique style, and it is a subject especially close to me. I can only presume that your customer carried such a strong image of what she expected that she could not accept your interpretation. How on earth can you be expected to deliver the exact visions of others, and why should any commissioner expect that of an artist anyway?

Vinara said...

That's a real shame this lady couldn't appreciate your work. I think it's beautiful! Sounds like she had something really specific in mind & couldn't see outside of that :(. I really hope you can bring this to a positive conclusion. Just as I was reading your post I was awaiting a response for a requested piece of photoshopped artwork. I know what you mean about that moment of silence whilst they take it in. Scary! When I was making this piece of art I had to rehash it a few times, mainly because I was trying too hard to imagine what the other person would be happy with & not working with my own interpretation of their words. I really do believe you have to stay true to yourself in the things you create. They're a part of you & truely unique & all the more fabulous because of this :)

I wish I was fortunate enough to be able to commission one of your clocks! One day...:)

Lucy xx

Emerald Window said...

Oh Rima, I hurt for you. But PLEASE realize that your art is soul touching. The fact that someone bought it and doesn't appreciate it is not a reflection on you, but on them. They dwell on the surface and can't see the depths.
Since you have not stated a refund policy anywhere, I do not think you are liable for a refund. What I would do if it were my piece is this. Give her a choice of sending it back to you so you can find another buyer who appreciates it (ad when it's sold, send her the money) or she can keep it and find her own buyer. I think this is more than fair.

Joel Le Blanc said...

There is never any way to please everyone, even when dealing with customers or people commissioning works of art. I have worked in herbal dispensaries for years and I do my best to meet the needs of people who walk through the door each day and balance their expectations and requests with what I deem appropriate for their health needs. There are always those who are not satisfied or do not like what I end up saying to them or recommending to them.

However, sometimes good medicine is quite bitter and that goes for art too. My hope is that the person who has commissioned this magical clock from you will one day look upon it and see within it the art and energy that she originally sought - like Dorothy Gale, realizing what she wanted was there with her all along.

Charlotte said...

Dear Rima,
sadly I think some people take the word commission to mean "direct and own". I cannot quite fathom how this person chose to commission a clock from you. Surely she had seen, admired and wanted something you had made previously. It would follow that she must have known you would then pour your art, heart and soul into creating work belonging to the family of creations you have already displayed.

Like most of your readers, I too covet the finished item, it is quite beautiful. It is worth much more than money, and your clocks are remarkably generously priced in comparison to the time and talent you invest in them.
Don't let the poison of this persons ill will enter your heart, you have a gift that is admired and appreciated by many.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Trying to put myself in this customer's mind, and wondering if she had too specific an idea of exactly what the clock would look like. I hope it has wound its way into her heart by now.

I remember the sense of mixed dread and anticipation when I had the parcel containing the clock you did for me in my hands and was about to open it. I knew I'd like it, but would I LOVE it? I remember clearly not wanting you to be disappointed in my reaction. Well of course you know I loved it, just as I love the other painting you did for me just recently. The clock sits on the wall within arms reach and the other is waiting a special frame and its internet incarnation. Your interpretation of ideas is gifted and magical and uniquely your own and it should stay that way.

But now a very splendid (and unfortunately unaffordable) idea comes to me: I have the clock with the old silver-haired wise woman, this clock has an earth mother in the prime of her life. I would so love to buy this one and see you do another clock with a maid in the green of life, then I could have a ticking triptych of the triple Goddess. Oh well, if I win the lottery...

Lrc said...

Yes,yes, and yes! to all of the above...this woman didn't know how much of yourself you put into your work for her. It happens at some point some customer wants everything their way and doesn't consider the creator at all. Its good to know that many artists are turned off by commissions. I've never been very keen on them because I've seen how many people who don't create don't understand the work involved. Don't get me wrong,I love your idea of the creation being a saying that resonates with the viewer. That is a magical moment when the artist can see a viewer fall into love with a piece they have created. The dark side is when a piece is rejected, it is so brutal. It is important that you do business how it fits you best and think that some sort of piece about how you work as an artist is necessary. Stay strong, your voice is necessary!

naturespiritart gundula said...

Dear Rima,

I’m following your steps now for more than one year: laughing and crying with you. And be glad, when you are happy again.
It’s strange, that you made this post today – catching me in quite a comparing situation.

There are always people who can’t understand how it is to do artists work. That it is totally different to any job only done for the money. Of course, we need the money too, but it is a far more complex thing, it’s far more personal and unique and it costs us a great deal of our own life and spirit and every bit we are than anything else.
Seems to be totally different worlds we live in – the artists and the others… sometimes.
I think, it is because artificial work is LIVING the work we do, so it contains a part of ourselfs and is always connected to us. Perhaps that’s it, why it hurts so much, when someone don’t understand and only takes it for another piece of matter.
Our work itself only can be alive and work its own way if it is loved by the others too…. like we do.

A lot of people seem to be unable to live their work, to love it. So they can’t understand, that others would do and suffer if someone don’t like their “children”.
Sometimes I feel that we artists are sort of remnants of an ancient world and time, when all was one,
that modern times has cast aside and changed the rest of people into a seemingly unsensible mass, suppressed by the circumstances of life, guided by images shown to them as the only important things to care about, moving but not really alive…
It’s not their fault, but just the way it goes.
Most people are only used to copy and reproduce things – not to create something unique.

Take the experience as a present – the proof that you are living and loving your work. You are capable to suffer for it. Your work and you are one. Save your sensibility and stick to it – it’s a great gift.
Everyone who looks with his eyes and his heart will see, that your work is a great precious to everyone.
It’s full of your life and love and every beautiful thought and feeling one only can have.

It’s true, not everyone will love you and your work, but the right people do. That counts.
All of us visiting your blog are presented with a holy well of love and life and happily have a refreshing and healing bath in it.

Thank you so much.

Snippetygiblets said...

I can only echo what everyone else has already. Said, m'dear. I'm glad to have seen the piece in question now. Tis beautiful indeed. Don't take it to heart and change. The way you work or do business. You're fine they way you are. Think of the comments of a certain Ms Valente when you get a wobble ! Xx

Anonymous said...

Rima, I am sorry you have been bruised (but recovering!) by such an unfeeling and greedy woman.
Much as I would love the chance to buy this clock if it were re-sold, I don't believe that is going to happen, since the Greedy Woman has not accepted your offer.
She must keep her clock, with its cracked rim, since she is unwilling to return it.
I once bought an item, rashly, and when I realised it was not what I wanted, I returned it and forfeited, without argument,the money I'd spent.No, it was not a commissioned piece, but my point is that the "mistake" lies with the purchaser.
Greedy Woman, accept that you have no comeback, emotionally, artistically or even legally.Don't pour your bile into that pond.

Happier times to you, Rima.
(PS Everyone who has seen my little Rima card has loved it.As do I, every day.)

rossichka said...

Dear Rima, the clock is beautiful, as all you art works! If the commissioner knew your style better she wouldn't have felt disappointed! Everything you've passed through is really confusing - I can feel your pain and bitterness, but don't blame yourself and don't lose belief in your way of working! Yes, you are free to "see" the theme with your heart and soul... Because YOU are the artist! I find something similar in the process of my work with the scenographer. I tell her my ideas about the pupets or the scenery, but she is the one who "dresses" them in images and I fully trust her...
So many questions to ponder upon in this post! About the process of creating, about the sweet freedom to work "when" and "if" you want and sometimes the dependence on money (oh!......) About the sincere and non-stopping friendly conversation in the blogging space with everything it gives us - people from different continents, countries, with different religions, at difefrent ages... When I read your words, I cried...
I hope, that someone will buy the clock and it will take its trip to a home, where it will be loved! xx

Anonymous said...

One day I will be able to afford one of your clocks, so please don't stop making them, exactly in the way that your process creates them. I particularly like the fox in this clock, very much so. I think your customer has 'issues' and instead of maturing emotionally passes her stuff on to others. My hunch anyhow. I identify with your pain and confusion, you're a virgo I believe, so am I. By the way, I learn from your integrity and how you go about things and adopt that sort of practice now. I salute you! In a totally pacifist kind of a way you understand..

rossichka said...

I hurried so much that I made mistakes while typing, excuse me - "puppets" and "different"...:(

miakodo said...

I think your compromise was more than generous. I've dreamed of getting one of your clocks for years now, and when I finally do, I of course assume that I'll be surprised by the end product -- and how awesome would that be, anyway? Commissioning the clock doesn't mean renting your brushes to make a preconceived picture from her head, but paying for your time to create a piece of art by Rima Staines.

The clock is beautiful; I can't imagine not being a proud owner of it. I hope you stick to your current policy.

FreeDragon said...

I make quilts. When I give quilts to people, they are utterly delighted and charmed. When I take commissions nothing goes right, even if I stetch/photograph every stage and ask for feedback. So I don't make custom quilts anymore. What it all boils down to is I cannot see inside anyone else's head. What I make will never be exactly like what the person envisioned.
I think your clock is beautiful and I think it is wonderfully kind of you to make ammends, you are not obligated to do so. Shame on the woman for keeping the clock when she has expressed displeasure in it. She should have returned it to you when she asked for a refund.
I think in the future you should ask for payment upfront or a non-fundable percentage- say 35% of the final price. Perhaps midway thru you could have consulation to make sure both you and your client like the look of the art. This way if they don't like the clock you got something for your time and they aren't out too much. Also doing business this way has the add bonus of 'serious inquiries only' Sadly, not everyone understands how much work art really is and sadder still, not everyone is honest.

FreeDragon said...

I make quilts. When I give quilts to people, they are utterly delighted and charmed. When I take commissions nothing goes right, even if I stetch/photograph every stage and ask for feedback. So I don't make custom quilts anymore. What it all boils down to is I cannot see inside anyone else's head. What I make will never be exactly like what the person envisioned.
I think your clock is beautiful and I think it is wonderfully kind of you to make ammends, you are not obligated to do so. Shame on the woman for keeping the clock when she has expressed displeasure in it. She should have returned it to you when she asked for a refund.
I think in the future you should ask for payment upfront or a non-fundable percentage- say 35% of the final price. Perhaps midway thru you could have consulation to make sure both you and your client like the look of the art. This way if they don't like the clock you got something for your time and they aren't out too much. Also doing business this way has the add bonus of 'serious inquiries only' Sadly, not everyone understands how much work art really is and sadder still, not everyone is honest.

Amy said...

Rima, your artwork is exquisite and the detail is magical. She could not see it's beauty yet, for whatever reason; her eyes may be blocked from beauty right now. Do not take it personally. Please keep creating your magic, without edit. If you were to rethink your magical art, there would be a loss in the world. ~Amy

Folk Heart said...

I have pored over each and every comment, and know that I can add very little to the mix. But I must tell you that for 30 years I have painted characters on cypress knees, whose bark has been removed. I found you and your wonderful blog because people have repeatedly told me how much your work resembles mine...a divine compliment to me, may I say!

Because no two cypress knees are shaped alike, each and every one was an original, and came from my imagination. They were St. Nicks, wizards, gnomes, tree spirits, etc. I, too, have had my heart broken by a rare but ever present critical and ungrateful customer. I once had my feelings hurt so badly, that I couldn't paint for months.

I learned to lift my chin and be proud, surround myself with the people who appreciated my work, and simply bury the hard feelings. I also learned that if the customer commissioned you to do an original specifically for them, they are bound by law, at least in the states, to compensate you for your asking price. It is no different than going into their home and painting a mural. Whether they like it or not, they are legally bound to pay the amount agreed upon in the verbal arrangement. You are not bound to "refund", which is such a thoughtless and unsavory request for the very reasons you mentioned.

My lesson learned was that I would no longer take commissions and put my heart out there to be broken. I would instead create, offer and wait for the right customer to lovingly scoop up a creation. It feels good, and your heart will never again be broken by such cold and thoughtless people as you have had to deal in this situation. In my case, it was left to sales reps to sell, in your case it would be Etsy. But don't let anyone hurt you ever again. Your work, your life, your style and your constitution are just phenomenal, and I don't want you to ever doubt yourself again. You have enriched my life, and I know I am only one of thousands.

Don't lose hope. XOXO

mama p said...

This made me so sad- because upon looking at it, this was my most favorite Once-Upon-a-Clock! I hope you and she can find a good resolution for this dilemma. (I thought the offer you gave was sound and reasonable, considering the circumstances!!) And as a person who worked retail for many, many years, I can tell you that people develop a habit of demanding full refunds for ~things~ when in reality, it's something in their own life they'd like to change out. Don't fret, likely this is a habit for her; it has nothing to do with you personally.

Valerianna said...

oh dear... the only awful experiences I have had making art is doing commissions. Not all, but a few have been sooo soul-splitting... I have such compassion for where you are - or were. After several uncomfortable and awkward commissions, I now write a contract that clearly states that commissioned work is not refundable, though if a person is not happy, they don;t have to take it, but they have paid for my time and vision, so I will not refund. It helps weed out those that haven't considered all possible outcomes. I rarely do commissions now, and thankful that I don't. Good luck, I do hope there is a good outcome to it.

I think the piece is lovely, I am living in a rusty red and gold world right now in my sacred forest, you have captured that feeling well. And, the sweetness of the animals. Its beautiful. Good luck and thanks for the honest sharing and allowing us to witness your vulnerability.
Abundant blessings!

Tracee said...

Rima~ I was amazed by this clock. It has instantly become my "favorite thing" that I have seen in a long while. I am so sad to hear that it is in the hands of someone who does not love it, ow could she not? Things made by hand are infinitly more precious than those bought at a store. For the record, if I had the american equivalent of 250 pounds, I would be sending it to you as soon as possible, that clock would be perfectly at home on my wall. Being well aquainted with the edge of poverty myself, I cannot. But I believe there is a great gap between having money, and being rich. I myself, am rich.

Anonymous said...

You cannot write poetry in the pages of a ledger.

She will return the clock and you will refund her money in good time. The clock will be yours again to do with as you wish. Or she will keep the clock and you the money. That's the ledger.

The clock itself is poetry, a beautiful piece of magic, and you can't write poetry in the pages of a ledger. The poetry exists in the clock and in you. Sad then that it does not also exist within the heart of your client.

Anonymous said...


The solution you offered is the only viable one. If she cannot accept it, and still has the clock in her possession, then she is not entitled to a "refund." I have worked retail in an art gallery for many years, and there are times you just can't make a customer happy no matter what you do. I personally think your clock is lovely, and I would have been thrilled to receive it. I'm surprised this woman did not understand the way a commission works. I hope she sends the clock back to you so that it can go to someone who really appreciates how beautiful it is.

Never doubt your talent, Rima. You have it in spades! This woman is just hard to please.

A mermaid in the attic said...

Dear Rima,
I understand the problem, it's why I've always shied away from commissions. There is no possible way for you to know exactly what is in someone else's head, and even if you did and could paint it, it wouldn't be a Rima painting, so there would be no point in doing it. My hubby was leaning over my shoulder as I read this, and he immediately asked about showing the client rough sketches. He is a graphic designer, as I was once was (and occasionally still am), so rough sketches and client meetings and the like are a perfectly normal part of the 'design' business. But you are NOT in the design business. You are an artist, creating OOAK magical pieces, that speak of your heart and soul. I have a foot in each camp now, and I see them as two ENTIRELY different entities. I do not put my heart and soul, my very being, into a logo design, or a brochure layout. Clients tinker and fiddle and frequently change a design to the point that it looks terrible sometimes, but that's what they want, and I'm not putting my heart into it, and they DON'T EXPECT me to. My artwork is something VERY different. As everyone here has said, anyone who knows your work well enough to want to buy a piece, knows exactly how you work, that you are not just doing a production line of 'cutesy' pieces to meet a particular demand. Your work has something intangible and magic in it. Part of the magic of commissioning a piece, I would have thought, was seeing what kind of magic you weave from a few ideas from the client. To dictate to you what you must paint and how to paint it, kills that magic. Don't let this one negative experience change how you work. What you do, and how you do it, is perfect.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Unfortunately, these uncomfortable situations occasionally occur in the lives of artists, and have throughout time. I had a client several years ago who "loved" my ideas and sketches for his home, but didn't understand why I'd want to be paid for them, so he didn't pay me. He then proceeded to implement them all on his own. That caused a bit of derailing of my own creative process for awhile, so I can easily understand how you must have felt with this commission.

In my experience, you just have to let it go. Consider it a lesson learned and attempt to make things a bit clearer next time out. But try, oh do try, not to let it shut you down or doubt the validity of your artistic vision. I know that is easier said than done sometimes, but make a constant effort to resist that bad fairy when she comes to sit on your shoulder. A artist's individual way of seeing the world is the most wondrously valuable truth and should never be diminished by anyone. It is a constantly difficult thing to realize that there are those who simply do not "see" art in the same way. More's the pity for them. And the clock is exquisite.

Oh, and just be glad you weren't commissioned to paint her portrait. Think what a landmine that would have been.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...


I'm posting this comment via my wife Pamela's blogger account. She often refers to me in her own blog as "The Songwriter", as indeed songwriting is what I do as my art and vocation. In that role, I certainly related to the rocky emotional road you've been on in this commission. Though it's inevitable that from time to time we experience the sting of rejection, it's never easily digested, and that delicate balance of confidence and vulnerability can swing so far towards the vulnerable side, that it takes a while to right ourselves. Who can say why your commissioner didn't respond favorably to the finished piece? I personally found it to be truly wonderful, and from what I can tell, a beautifully rendered Rima-esque interpretation of the commission. I once had a reviewer write that one of my albums done early in my career wasn't worth throwing as a frisbee. Ouch. My confidence level plummeted that day, let me tell you. But you know, that reviewer was wrong. I admit, the album wasn't perfect, but for those with ears to hear, some of those songs obviously connected. I continue to hear from some of those listeners to this day, and they tell me what those songs have meant to them through the years. I remember that when the demon of self doubt sits on my shoulder. I'm sure when all is said and done, this situation with your clock will be resolved. The important thing though, is once that's accomplished, you continue to create with confidence, conviction and courage. You are an amazing artist whose beautiful spirit and insight comes through in all your work. This clock is no exception. Thanks for sharing your gift with us.


Pat Terry

Bri said...

Dear Rima,
What a terribly sad lady to not be able to see the wonderment, beauty, and myth-rich loveliness in your clock! I understand your dilemma all too well as I make my living not as an artist but as a tarot reader, diviner, and teacher vis a vis the internet. Combining business with art or mysticism is a tricky thing to do but I think your suggested compromise was an elegant solution to the issue. My husband is a fine artist and it is absolutely true that people don't realize how much time, energy, and resource goes into art making--or that the entire point of a commission is because you see something within the artist's vision that resonate with you. That is to say, an artist commissioned to do a piece of work *should* be bringing a bit of their own soul to the table--that's the whole point of choosing to work with that particular artist!
As to your business question, I have run several business over my lifetime and my attitude towards refunds is: rarely if ever. I understand that you do not want one of your creations to be stuck with someone that doesn't want or appreciate it--of course you don't. But opening up the refund door opens up a whole world of trouble imo. Set your prices, your standards and your terms--do not let anyone else set them for you--you live on the edge financially in return partially for having more control over these aspects of your life than other merchants--make that return work for you.

If she is truly unhappy with her piece and working with her to create a new clock is something that you could actually stomach doing, I would suggest a consultation where the two of you refine the design she was hoping for, she hold on to the original clock until the new one is sent to her, she not receive a refund until the new clock arrives and is approved of, and that she pay the full price for the new clock prior to you sitting down and working on it. She should also be responsible for paying shipping costs to send the original clock back to you and should not receive a refund until the clock has been received and checked over for any potential damage. And if there is damage to its lovely self, the cost should be deducted from any refund she receive. That is how I would approach the issue but I am fairly hard nosed about these matters. In my experience there are just some people who are never satisfied, sadly, this client may fall into that category and nothing you do or say will change it. Don't let her negativity affect you or make you doubt your incredible talent and this specifically lovely and magical clock!

HKatz said...

First off, it's a lovely clock, and it's entirely in keeping with your style (I love the fine details, especially on the fox who seems to be studying the pond and the stream of water from the jug so curiously).

I also love the honesty of your post. Taking commissions can be difficult, but most people who ask for something made just for them understand that it will be the artist's vision ultimately. Otherwise this lady could have painted her own clock.

It should be all right to keep doing commissioned works as they can be rewarding too (both artistically and financially), but as others have suggested, there might have to be some sort of clear statement to customers that this will be your work and your interpretation of their request (even if it does sound like you're stating the obvious). And you give enough examples of your previous work so that they shouldn't be so shocked.

Amber said...

Honestly, I'm amazed you even take commissions and allow that much input (things to include/colors) for them. Course now I really want to commission you to make one (don't worry about me complaining, I have one of your paintings (The Visitors) and I'm well aware of your style. I have to think that she just...wasn't? Really, I don't know how you could have handled it differently.

I would advise you to have some sort of disclaimer with commissions though - that they are non-returnable for example. Just to protect yourself in the future.

So sorry for the negative feedback, I think it is a lovely image, I can't see how someone wouldn't be happy with it.

Amanda said...

Oh, cringe. Oh, heart-rending cringe. To be on the shocking receiving end of such a soul-aching impasse is awful. Client should be embarrassed for her poor manners to say the least.

I second the idea of an eloquent note of understanding when entering into an agreement with a client regarding the creative process and the no-refunds policy. And would certainly implore you not to give a refund until you receive the clock back.

Take heart if you don't though. She may come to love it. I had my wedding band commissioned and was at first blush a little crestfallen as it didn't turn out quite as I expected. But, in time, I've come to not only love, but completely adore the shapes and intricacies and craftsmanship that were initially hidden behind my expectations. Note that I expressed my unending and heartfelt gratitude despite my initial disappointment as your client really should have done.

I do hope you keep on and in good spirit, Rima. One bad apple and all, you know.

shade and sweet water,

Zazu Ta said...

That is a horrid thing to happen indeed. I know exactly how you feel and I sympathize wholly. I had a similar thing happen to me. Maybe even worse still was the fact that I was exhibiting in their shop. They took 35% on every piece. Not only that, they never told me that orders placed would also have the 35%. So when I did make the custom painting, despite warning the commisioner that it would be totally different than what she was expecting... including colours, layouts and design... she still had the gall to send someone to my house to return the payment and get back the refund.
How I cried that night. But I was glad my painting was with me. You see... they're alive... they are. They're not commercial pieces that can just be bought and sold and propped anywhere.
They are made with heart and soul... and then they become heart and soul.
This was one year ago. I have since not taken custom orders as I am paranoid of the same thing happening again.
My warmest to you. One doesn't need to have such people in their midst in any case.
God bless

Morna Crites-Moore said...

It is a beautiful clock and i wish it were my clock. It is that perfect. You have met up with a classic fussy difficult customer. She will never be happy. She needs to find fault, even where none exists. Take heart from all these comments telling you the truth - that you should not allow this woman's toxicity to invade your being. You've made a perfectly reasonable offer. I do hope she returns the clock to you, so you can give it the loving it deserves. Rima, you are such a special artist, and a wonderful writer, too. Wrap yourself in this truth, which is so evident from your enormous following. xo

Satya said...

Thank you for this story. I can empathise with your response to the woman's feedback. You have done everything you can to sort the situation. On the few occasions over many years where something similar has happened to me in relation to my work which is not art but is to do with supporting people and helping resolve their challenges and develop, I have also taken it very personally. However, I have found that often the reason for the person's behaviour/response related to something outside of my intervention - other issues they have in their life that I wouldn't have known about which can then turn into aggression, defensiveness, or envy. After self-scrutiny such as you have done, all that you can try to do is to let it go...On blogging it is wonderful that it has brought such a feeling of support and connectedness, with which I can also empathise. I have found blogging itself can stir up a whole host of responses and emotions and have written about thsi on my blog in two posts, Unexpected guest and Friendship and blogging which you may find interesting: http://thewellhousecircle.wordpress.com/
Your thoughts are always so well-expressed and welcome.

Kirsi Halla-Seppälä said...

I hear you Rima! Thank you for sharing this unfortunate affair with us. You are talking about a very important issue here that concerns all of us, who materialize our inner world, with sounds, words or images, for someone's request.

I'm so sorry that you had to confront this ungrateful person who obviously has no understanding for art. I know it hurts, but it'll make you stronger too, I'm sure.

I see there is no other reasonable solution here than you getting the lovely clock back and after you've sold it to someone who appreciates it the way it deserves, then you perhaps could give her money back. Not because it's "right thing to do" (because I don't think she has any rights to even suggest this), but because it would clear the air and cut the chords with this person.

I guess there'll always be people, surrounded by negativity and strict assumptions how thing should be, a need to control things and a conviction that the way they want things to be, is the right way. They have very little space in their self, no ability to be grateful or accept things as they are and thus they are always unhappy and bitter. My experience has shown that there is no way of pleasing these people.

I hope my English was somewhat understandable and I wish you all the best! I'm sure this situation will be solved, some way or the other.

Love & hugs!

Freyalyn said...

She certainly shouldn't have her money back until she returns the clock - there are people around who do this, ask for refunds without returning things. I do hope this isn't one of those.

Karen Turner said...

I've been reading your blog for some time, Rima, but rarely comment. I found your words very moving, and can understand exactly your feelings, particularly on the artist's fragile sense of self esteem. It is a magical painting, perfectly executed, and I find it hard to imagine anyone being remotely unhappy with it. I work with cloth and hand stitch, and hardly ever do custom work - and never for someone I don't know well. I would imagine it's near impossible to get it 'right' for a person you know nothing about. Your work is beautiful, magical and honest. I do hope that the problem is resolved in a way that you can be comfortable with.

mycuriousteaparty said...

Hi Rima

As you say this is an odd world, a world of conections and coincidences. Do not worry Rima the right person who is to become caretaker of this clock will come forward and the clock will naturally find it's way to it's true 'home'.

I hope that the lady in question reads your blog post and all of the words left by us others... She does not deserve to own one of your beautiful clocks and will indeed regret her unkindness to you.

I hope that you will keep creating beautiful work, New 'caretakers' will que up and wait patiently in the hope of owning one of your wonderful pieces... One day it might even be me... ~ Julie

Anonymous said...

Hello Rima,
Here a reply to your blogpost from the outlandish (haha) Netherlands.
I'm sorry you've run into an unhappy "customer". Your response to it, is perfectly recognizable. The proposition you made, to sell the clock on to another who loves it, I think, is a good and fair one. What a shame the buyer doesn't seem to agree on that. It would be so much better for both of you if she returned the clock to you to sell on. It must be very painful to know your work is with someone who's unhappy with it.

For the future I understand your considerations about art versus business. But romantic though the idea is, I think in this day and age you cannot exist as an artist without carrying a serious business, however small that may be. If you don't set it up, you could get confronted with nasty unhappy "customers" (I'm purposely using this word because I can relate to the disgust it probably evokes in you) who have the law on their side. Suppose someone buys something from you through the internet and doesn't like it. Legally there's a 7-day return policy. Because what you buy may end up being different in real life than you thought when you saw it on your screen. In essence, it's a good law, but for an artist, it is hard. I'm also struggling with how much business I want in my artistry. But previous experiences have lead me to believe I'd better get my business sorted out. Not very romantic or artistic, and it DOES clash with inspiration and flow sometimes, but it's pure self-protection. Or else I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to live as an artist at all.
So for the sake of self-protection, perhaps it is best to make sure you take some precaution.

Oh, and about commissioned work, I know this artist who does commissions, but doesn't make "the deal" before the work's finished. she makes the paintings, sends pictures of the final result and then the buyer can still say 'yes' or 'no' to it. When it's a no, the painting goes online and usually sells anyway.

~ Mandy

Gemma Mortlock said...

Oh Rima what a horrible and disheartening thing to have happened. I do know exactly how you feel though, when i make jewellery for a customer that they have requested i often feel that panic and worry just before handing it over, the majority of the time i recieve lovely comments which boost my self esteem but on the odd occasion i have recieved petty compliants and remarks. It makes me wonder sometimes why i bother but then you have to sit back and think not everyone is like that, they are obviously expecting something heartless and conventional like what you would find in a shop not handmade with love care and attention. Some people do not get the whole idea of the time spent in creating these things and the attention and hours worked into them. It is a shame that the shops and the mass produced market ever exsisted because it has ruined peoples values and cares. Please dont let it bring you down too much you are a wonderful talented artist and the clock is a beauty! it is 100% your style which is what she should have been expecting and the offer you proposed was definately rational as i am sure the clock would have sold instantly with no problems. I keep my fingers crossed the lady in question is looking after it and i send healing loving hugs your way, please dont ever give up, your art is you and you should be proud no matter what! Gem xxx

Heather said...

Rest assured Rima, your clock is beautiful and that woman has no soul. If she appreciates your art enough to want a piece she should understand the complexities of creating it. I work with textiles and don't like taking commissions, especially ones where the customer wants me to reproduce a 'duplicate', which I find impossible. I am fortunate in only making things for my own satisfaction and pleasure, and don't have to make a living from it - if a piece does sell it is the icing on the cake. From the hours of work that go into one of your pieces I think your prices are extrememly reasonable. I am sure there will be 'takers' for this beautiful clock and you can reimburse your customer. Please don't let her strange behaviour and insensitiviy undermine your confidence the way your work is perceived by the public - it is magical, exquisite, delightful, excellent and much more besides.

laoi gaul~williams said...

oh rima how dreadful~i am so sorry you have been so upset about this.

the clock, like all of your work is heart-achingly beautiful and i cannot imagine what this woman is seeing~for as all these comments say~it is a perfect, beautiful creation

Lynn said...

Dear Rima,

I'm another one who's been following your blog for about a year, but am only now leaving my first comment. In light of the many, many other encouraging comments above it's almost redundant, but I couldn't help adding my few words to this list.

Your work is magical. This clock is beautiful. I agree with the people who think that the woman who commissioned the piece had too specific an idea in mind. Perhaps she's also one of these people we meet every so often who is just not content unless she's discontent. Don't be discouraged. Take heart in all of the comments above (and, by now I'm sure, below). This sort of situation will, unfortunately, happen from time to time. It's certainly no reflection on your work or the way in which you work.

All the best.

Share my Garden said...

Dear Rima, there is always one! When I worked to commission I always supplied a pencil rough and only went to finished work once that had been approved. Really that woman should not be commissioning artwork. Very hurtful, I know, to pour your best intentions into something, only to be rebuffed. Funny that for all the complaining she is not prepared to part with your lovely clock!

heidi said...

Hello Rima,

Thank you for sharing your recent clock work. It is quite beautiful. Love the colors.

Frankly, the time has come my dear, for you to decide as an artist with a very distinct vision whether you should be taking on commission work at all.

Commission work is that. A piece made with a specific client in mind and their opinion of its outcome. Often, this collaboration is a thing of magic, but a commission is a commission and often (but not always) entitles the one asking for your art to have a say.

If you choose to continue commission work, obviously, protecting yourself against disappointment (by you and the client) should be considered, which you have pointed out already in your post.

I agree, someone asks you to make something knowing your style and way of working. That said, then perhaps the time has come to create - create - create. Create your visions and know they will sell.

Who knows, perhaps you as an artist are stifled by commission work. Who knows what you may be able to create with your wonderful clocks, knowing you can do whatever you like!

I know so many artists who have come across this, including myself. It seems to be a form of growth. Congratulations!

And know my dear, your clocks will sell. Don't worry about that - just do.

My goodness, get a bit of rest. The lady and your clock are both fine. Things will work out - they always do given time.


fairiemoon said...

First of all, I think the clock is gorgeous. It is one of my favorites. I love the leaves and colors.

I carve dolls and sometimes I sell them. Once I put one on ebay and it eventually sold at a handsome price, soon after the bidding ended the buyer contacted me to say that when she showed the doll to her husband and daughter, they both thought she was ugly, but that the buyer herself though the doll was cute in a homely way. I was devastated. I couldn't figure out why she would have purchased the doll if she thought she was homely. Others thought she was cute. And why would she say that to me. I have to admit...though this incident did not stop me from carving or selling dolls, it certainly took some of the joy out of it for me.

People can be so deflating. I love your clock and if I could afford it and it was available, I would buy it in a heartbeat. It is a treasure.

Stacy Shpak said...

Hi! I could not even a person who did not like your clock! I am very sorry for that person. I dream one day buy one of your fairy clocks! Please dont be upset! Once I was ordered three bears and she did not like them... so now I sell only ready bears!
Have a good time! So much people in this world love you and your world inside I think it's like a God's kiss))

Erin said...

I love this clock. The compromise you offered would have settled both accounts. You selling the clock to someone who will love and cherish this piece of amazing artwork forever and she getting her "refund". How horrible, really. I only hope that with time she will fall in love with the clock and the beauty you have rendered here. I suppose it could be like an arranged marriage...eventually many of those couples did find love and respect with each other. I hope for your sake that this eventually happens, since she appears to be unwilling to send the clock back so it can be loved and cherished by someone who truly appreciates your work.

Anke Weckmann said...

Luckily this happens very rarely. Since people have been happy with your work in the past, I don't think you have to change anything. This isn't your fault! I know how hard and upsetting this sort of thing can be, I would probably be just as upset. It's good to remember that this happens to every artist or creative person, and it's best not to take it personally.
You handled the issue the best way possible, and as long as she doesn't send the clock back, there's nothing you can do for now.
The clock is absolutely beautiful!

Gabriela said...

I think that the sad thing is that someone who can sometimes 'afford' your art, is someone who has no sensitivity.First,a commission work I believe is one in which one has such trust and belief on another's work to allow them to 'interpret' . I think your clock was beautiful as any others of yours, and I would have been deeply embarrassed to even think I could critique it. If I really hated it ( can't see that though) I would have the decency of sending it back to you and not sheepishly asking for a refund...so is it ok to have on one's wall as long as one knows it cost less ?I think that brings another answer. Obviously this was the wrong person to own one of your beautiful, magical works of art.

FuturePrimitive Soap Co. said...

You should never ever ever question your way of doing things...not ever.
There will always be a difficult customer and when they pop up they do have a knack of making you feel so utterly worthless and yes it makes you re-evaluate what you do and why you do it.
£250 is a lot of money to you (and to me) but maybe not to the person who bought the clock. I can see no reason why the person would have any kind of issue whatsoever.
I guess what you should say is quite simply 'you win some, you lose some'.
There is no way in gods green earth that I would offer a refund for a commissioned piece of work, especially when you've put in so much work and time.
The clock is beautiful. The person should be bloody ashamed.
Good luck

Katie said...

Oh dear... the woman has no poetry in her soul.
In the dry bones of law and practicality, she cannot keep the clock and yet demand a refund. It just doesn't work that way. Were she to return the clock, without having had a disclaimer, "due to the individual nature of this work...no refunds" sort of thing, I fear you'd be honour - if not legally - bound to return at least a portion of her money. However, since she seems to want to have her cake and eat it too, that may not matter! Do not - do not - give her another thought if she continues to keep the clock and yet badger you for money. She isn't worthy of the time it would take to worry about it.
Okay...back to the poetry of life, which you certainly have! I would buy the clock in a heartbeat if it ever came to a time when you needed to find a new home for it! It is beautiful; the dreams and thoughts and images you poured into the magic of it are beautiful. Anyone who has it in their surroundings would benefit from its gentle magic.
I've had to deal with this sort of thing, having put my heart into something. It's a toughening experience. I never wanted to be toughened... but there it is. The trick is to be a tiny bit tougher on the practical side of things. It'll protect you just enough that you never lose that sweet vulnerablity that makes you and your work so special!

Unknown said...

It is your heart that speaks to your soul...and it is apparent in your artwork the conversations are many. I, too, am an artist - photographer. Although this type of situation does not happen often, when it does, it quite literally hurts my heart. It is our reminder that even the most beautiful rose has thorns that will harm us at times...but the beauty of the rose is well worth the pain.

Keep us the amazing work! I love getting lost in your world of art!

Nancy said...

It's a lot like Whistler when he completed his work and the man he created for gave him pounds like a common workman instead of guineas for being an artist. That is not to say common work has it's own beauty and artist do crafty work. Artists so not construct - they create.

I love your work. I think that perhaps you need to post a artistic statement that reflects your philosophy of purchase because there are people who aren't creative who may not know what it means to create. It's not mass produced, but lovingly wrought.

Alettesiriane said...

I am on your list for a clock.I expect it to be what you feel like making that day!You asked what I would like.That I feel is only if you get an idea out of it.Your artistic expression is what I want.It is spesial.If not I would buy a clock at a store!

I have been where you are.It was so hard to go thru.It will make you stronger.

jude said...

i have never taken a commission for in my heart i always fear that communication is flawed, my one reason for blogging about my process in such detail. i understand all of what has been said, creating and selling is such hard work, hoping all the time that it is truly understood. it saddens me in a way but i guess i knew it all along. i laways admire your persistence in doing what you love. keep on. we need you.

A. K. Francis said...

Rima - this is a perfectly intriguing (which, to me, is the very best kind of thing), lovely piece of work! I think any admirer of your work should be thrilled to have it. Don't you dare lose confidence (though we all do at times). This world you have created, this place out of your mind and your heart is WONDERFUL! When I first found this blog, it was like stepping into the place of my own dreams, an odd, whimsical realm, and my heart nearly stopped for the awe I felt. That clock reflects this world perfectly. The earth mother in this piece is beautiful, and if someone had told me she was to be a "sort of female Francis of Assissi", well, you couldn't have gotten her more right. I would have pictured her young and beautiful, but humble, her beauty natural, her demeanor one of giving, of care-taking for that which she is the mother of, not one of ruling. I'm not sure WHAT this customer had in mind, but this is every bit as unique and wonderful as every other clock you have created. I was spellbound when you mentioned that she "replenishes the time-pool from her jug". How can you not love a thing imbued with so much lore, so much symbolism, lovingly and carefully crafted by the visionary you have chosen for her, well, vision? I apologize for my indignation at your recent plight (because I know you've made your peace with it by now), but it hurts to know that something so precious could be requested, and then so utterly unappreciated.

As everyone else has mentioned, you spent the time and creative energy on this project that you promised. Your offer to sell the piece to another and refund her the money at that time was more than gracious. What other compromise could there possibly be? The work is done. The piece exists. It was asked for and it was delivered. You've upheld your end of the bargain. I hope she comes to her senses and either has a change of heart about the piece or sends it back and lets you get on with the business of finding the clock's true home - with the person who will be overjoyed to have it.

Ignacio Andrés Cobo said...

I believe that in a comission work, the comissioner needs to trust in the hability and the magic of the artist. That's, for me, the magic of ask for a unique piece of art and love.
Thanks for share this words, Rima, and let us enter into your wonderful world.

Saludos from Chile!
And sorry for my english :)

Pat Norton said...

I felt a loss of innocence in you from your writing about the transaction with this person. Much as a child, not that you are, experiences the unpleasantness of the adult world. That saddens me, as I feel it saddens you.

This loss of innocence will forever affect your dealings with commissions in the future. I think we have all had experiences that we can look on as turning points in our lives. This feels like one of those. It will never be the same as it was after this. I hope you can try to not let this affect your wonderful art thinking of the few sad people in this world that have to ruin things for those of us who want to forever retain the magical outlook of the way a child views the world.

Alan Richardson said...

All very well for me to say "Don't let the Philistines get to you", if you weren't that sensitive where would your art be; where would other sensitives be?

As for the crassness of demanding a refund without returning the piece I am speechless! Nature is not perfect but is always complete.

After ninety-one responses (which I haven't yet read) any further comment I might make would be superfluous or redundant. I'm sure your writing and publishing your thoughts helped, too.


Mo Crow said...

(((Rima))) your wise words and wonderfully wrought art strike a chord straight to the heart of us all inspiring magic & shining ever so brightly even on the darkly days.

Anthropomorphica said...

Ah Rima, this is why creating for commissions fill me with dread, it happens once in a while that someone's expectations are not quite met, expectations are wicked like that. I feel sad that there is little understanding for a self-supporting artist like you, I hope the recipient is able to understand as time goes on about the situation you are in. I think you're amazing and I doff my hat to you all all you do.
Wishing you a magickal evening and more herbs on the fire.

Anthropomorphica said...

oops, I meant "and all you do" ;)

Unknown said...

I think the clock is lovely and very typical of your style.

Your compromise is quite reasonable, as well.

I love reading your blog and am in awe of your artistry.

Lunaea Weatherstone said...

First of all, before I read this sad tale, my first thought upon seeing the clock was "Ohhhh, that's just what I would want MY clock to look like!" It is a perfect metaphor for my feelings about time, and the creatures are all deeply meaningful to me for different reasons, including my spirit animal, Badger. So know that there are many of us who would treasure this clock, as well as all the other wonderful work you do. About the art/commission thing... it does hurt when someone doesn't like what you've made for them, and alas, sometimes those few rejections can negate the many other happy and grateful responses. With my goddess rosary necklaces, for example, I've made HUNDREDS of them over the years, and only two people have ever not liked what they got (or told me so, anyway). One didn't like glitter (can you imagine?) so I redid the amulet for her without that tiny sprinkling of faery dust, and that was fine. Another didn't like the words I had put on the amulet, as they didn't speak of the Goddess to her, and that was fine too. I'd rather take the chance that someone doesn't like what I do than to run it by them ahead of time on a commissioned piece. Surprise is a big part of the exchange, I feel -- nothing I can describe with words is going to be as satisfying as opening that box and seeing the sparkle. Listen to your heart, Rima. Don't let this discourage you.

Lunaea Weatherstone said...

Oh dear, I left off the important point -- not that only two people didn't like my rosaries (like, yay me!), but rather, that those are the two I particularly *remember*! :-) But really, it's the people who love our work that matter -- that's why we DO it. And you are much loved, Rima.

Griffin said...

Firstly, it is very simple; if you commission a work of art by H. Bosch you don't expect a work that looks like V van Gogh did it.

Secondly, if she wanted it done exactly to her specifications, let her do it, but it won't be by you.

Thirdly, if she will refund all the time, hard work and a lifetime's skill and practise that have gone into the clock's making, then she can have her money back, but not before.

Fourthly, I would just make it clear that you do not offer refunds on your work if people do not like what they get. If there is damage that is a separate issue so long as it was not there when you sent the object.

Fifthly, the clock is a gorgeously rich piece of work and if she didn't like it that much let her send back the clock and you can re-sell it and then pay her back. If that's not acceptable to her she should hush and stay hushed.

Anna said...

Rima, I love your clocks and am always so fascinated to see what with your imagination and skill creates on the basis of the ideas and person of the commissioner. I really really hope that you don't decide to stop doing them because for the last year or so I've cherished the hope that I'll be able to commission a clock from you to celebrate the completion of my PhD thesis, either from my family or as a present to myself. So please keep making them, to help give me something to aim for amidst this mass of research, words and thoughts! Love Anna

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hello Rima, I was nodding my head all along as I read your story...

Some people do not understand the heart and soul that goes into creating.. the thinking, the visualizing, the preparing oneself to begin, and then to continue on and on and on to completion.. and all the while hoping with your whole soul that it pleases them... how crushing it is in those certain instances when they do not respond the way you had hoped...

... Yes indeed I felt every word you wrote ..
I have had this experience a few times in my artistic life.. (any time is too many times) ... I will not do commissions now, but still make my whole living creating... Some people ask about commissions and are somewhat upset when I have to politely turn them down... My husband who is an artist as well stopped doing commissions long before I stopped... freedom in creating is a necessary ingredient...

...funny thing was, that any time a similar situation happened and it broke my heart and spirit, a wonderful soul soon came along and made that object their own and were so happy to have it..... It was amazing and surprising and thoroughly ego boosting all in one... I know if you get your clock back again, it will find its new home very quickly ...

You have a beautiful, distinct, imaginative, only-you style that I have admired from the first time I laid eyes on it.. I am glad you are in the world and I appreciate the strength it took you to write this story ..
all the very best to you... Gwen

Helen said...

"mass-produced, generic and soulless goods that line the shelves of the shops"

Dear Rima, I admire you so much and appreciate every sketch or clock or painting you made, every post of yours is a surprise, you introduced me to several unknown and magical worlds, but that thought you have about mass-produced things is a little cold, I'm surprised You have that terrible perspective about mass-products, don't you know how many people are involved in the process of design something? vehicles, lamps, furniture, etc. That kind of products are the rational effort of a few, and a physical effort of a thousand employees!

As you well know: art, design, and crafts, are confused most of the times.
Art is a human expression, that cannot be controled or explained, everyone has an individual interpretation of a piece of art.
And crafts have their own beauty and people should know that a craft is a unique piece that will probably have imperfections (remember Francis Bacon words?).
But a design isn't a expression, it satisfies needs of the client and of the people in general, and it also follows certain aesthetics and commissioner's exigencies.

I assume you know all that I wrote (and better than I) but clients don't. And if you want to make business you must make sure your clients have an apex of those 3 definitions, before asking for something.

Meanwhile, keep on the good work, and learn from this weird commissioner.


Bri said...

Dear Rima,

The rootpond clock is a beautiful, original, one of a kind work of art. Ignore bitchy people who are not going to be satisfied with anything you offer/do for them--its simply not worth your time to pay heed to them and the truth is that nothing you do or say will satisfy this lady.

The saddest thing about this story is that she has this luscious clock--which I would buy in a heartbeat!--and she doesn't want it. How sad and foolish.

As far as refunds go--I have a business set up similar to your own--except mine is in the world of magic and divination--and I say give refunds rarely if ever. Art-making as you have pointed out is not only a subjective process but a deeply time consuming one as well. No artist that I know can really put a reasonable price on the time it takes them to create one piece because if they did the pricing would be too prohibitive for them to actually sell their pictures/stories/poems/songs and make a living. The fact is that artists will create whether there is an economic incentive to do so or not--the market and the powers that be know this--so creative people start at an economic disadvantage from other types who are willing to put their talent to good use only if there is a financial incentive to do so. That does not mean that you have to remain poor and struggle, nor does it mean that you have to sell out, but you have to be aware that the deck is stacked against you and set up protections for yourself, your work, and your business. A firm no-refunds only exchanges or repairs policy is one way to do that. Your work is too lovely and your time is too valuable to do anything less!

And PLEASE let us know what happens with the clock and if it does become available to re-sell! I love your work and I love this clock. My husband and I are pregnant right now and as soon as our little one comes into the world I would love to a clock made for him by you!

Stormy Weather said...

I don't have time to read all 104 comments, and I don't have any "refund" suggestions - I just wanted to add to what I'm sure is much praise for the clock - it's a beautiful picture. I always love it when you post about a new clock and tell the story of how the scene grew from the suggestions made by the person who commissioned it and where those ideas took the picture in your imagination. I'm sorry she didn't like it...it's a wonderful painting. I would offer to buy it if I had that much money!

Jenny said...

I think you've responded admirably to a difficult situation. I hope you have sorted it out soon, and just so you know, I love your work, and can't imagine how you could have something commissioned and NOT love it. Be beautiful still.

Rusted Wings said...

Your newest clock-creation is one of the most beautiful clocks i've ever seen, and the love and wonderful detail is felt from heart to heart. For one who has com-missioned such a piece to enter into the sacred trust and faith of contract, should believe and know that a treasure will be revealed in time. For one to stay attached to their own perception, is hard for the artist to dance with. But you couldn't have known this was the sort of 'client' you were to deal with, and should not take it personally. Your considerations are so kind and true, and it's too obvious that you are dealing with someone who is finding it difficult to be reasonable. I hope this beautiful clock finds a worthy & warm home, and know that your loving gifts are so appreciated by more than words could say!

fiddlestixstudios said...

Rima,first of all,your work is beyond beautiful,and so amazingly moving!It is just an unfortunate fact of life when in the business of selling anything~eventually,I'm afraid,someone along the way will be dissatisfied no matter what.The thing I do with commissions probably doesn't suit many artist's,but it takes a ton of stress and pressure off of me regarding the exact thing that has happened to you~I take no deposit,I simply make the piece requested and email pictures for the commissioner's approval.Once approved,I then send an invoice.If they were to be not happy,no worries,they are not obligated.I would simply put the item for sale on the internet.So far,I haven't had a problem,and it works great for me.
Never doubt your work,it is brilliant,and so very unique!There's nothing like it out there!
~Mandy :-)

Carol K. said...

I've arrived at your blog for the first time and read the story of your clock encounter.

Your written expression of your thoughts is stunning. Your art is very beautiful. And I hope you take to heart all the supportive, loving comments people have left you.

I look forward to returning and wandering through your previous posts. What a wonderful discovery!
Carol K.

Jo James said...

Your work it beyond lovely, as I'm sure all these other comments have agreed. Hope your sensitive self finds some healing there. As for the business part, I'm very careful when I do take a commission (which is rare) that I explain my process and (IF I feel that the buyer is someone I want to make something for) get paid first, then send pictures of the finished project for approval before sending off the object itself. Of course this leaves open the possiblity of rejection, but it's never personal (hardly anything is). It also leaves open the very real possiblity of a dreaded "refund" (I too find the term distasteful). Living on the edge of poverty as we so often do as artists makes this an especially scarey possibility, but such is the nature of business.

herhimnbryn said...

Hallo Lady Rima,
I read this piece and my heart went out to you. I echo all the above comments. You have written a warning too for me about commissions and for that I thank you.

The clock is beautiful. Your response to the buyer was wise and gracious. I think maybe you should have a no refunds policy (unless work is damaged in transit - but even then the buyer could pay for postal insurance).

Take heart, get out and walk in the fresh air. All WILL be well.

Rima Staines said...

Dear friends!

Your many many kind and supportive words uplift me! Thank you so much!
It is good to hear your experiences and suggestions.

I am very encouraged, reassured, and thoughts are provoked too....
Perhaps commissions are not something I will do forever, perhaps a disclaimer is the way..
Mostly I am happy that my writing this has opened up a discussion that is useful and makes it known that we all struggle.

My friend Terri Windling has written a great follow-up post to this one telling of her "rejection" experiences and reflecting on the nature of commissioned artwork. Do go and look.

And to answer briefly Helen's comment on my perspective on manufacture and design:
Of course I am very appreciative of the skilled work and people involved in this arena and the necessity of manufactured goods in everyday life. This wasn't my point though - I was merely referring to the element of commercial society that I find soulless, the repetitiveness, the items that are ugly and made with profit more in mind than beauty or quality. This isn't meant as any slight on designers, factory workers or any other people involved in this industry, just a comment on the sort of societal situation that produces these "shopping centre" worlds.

As for the resale of the clock - I will be sure to offer it again here to all you kind people who have taken it to your heart if it is returned to me ever.

Enormous, heartfelt and slightly dizzied thanks to you all for leaving your words here and on email.

With warm and creative November wishes,


FairiesNest said...

Rima most of what I would comment has already been said but your amazing post should be required reading from both a buyer and an artist's perspective.

toytheatre said...

I am remiss in reading many blogs lately, and haven't updated my own in months - too many hours get lost in this box sometimes - and when that happens, I find I've got nothing to show for my time on the other side of it.
This posting touched and saddened me deeply. I can fully imagine how devastated you were. What I cannot fathom how this woman could be so callous, other than to assume she has more money that sense.
Would it be insulting to suggest setting up a paypal account of some sort so those of us reading your blog could collectively donate a few pounds to help you out of this bind? Personally I would love to be able to purchase your wonderful clock, but I too am struggling, though not so much that I can't help a fellow artist out.

Terri Windling said...

Dearest Rima: I've posted my response to your thoughtful post on my blog, here:

(With apologies for the long html address that the blog generated!)

Della said...

Dear Rima,
It is certainly a blow to receive that kind of rejection on a piece which is so obviously from your heart. I can only guess that this woman was not so familiar with your work (but how?) or perhaps changed her mind about the commission, decided she couldn't afford it and was not honest about it. I'm sure one or more of the 115 commentators before me has suggested a plan for future commissions (I, like you, am no businesswoman :) but if I had the funds, I'd snatch that clock up myself. I've read Terri Windling's post which was wonderful. Keep your head up, it's not you that's the problem!! and I'm confident this will somehow be solved. All the warmest wishes.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Well! What a Pandora's box you've opened! First and foremost...your clock is wonderful exactly the way you wanted it to be. Well done. I too am one of those sporadically employed artists who can be very fragile at others reactions. Because it comes from my heart and soul, there is always the possibility of a broken feeling if one doesn`t love it as much as I do. Of course people are of different mindedness and I try to remember this when putting my work out there. An accountant once told me that artists are terrible buisness people. At first I was offended but realized after how right he was! As for sketching and `practicing`for your patrons, I say NO! Neil Young said that a song should be recorded in no more than 2 takes. Any more than that, the work gets farther away from what it was meant to be. Maybe one day the magic of your clock will speak to this woman and she will fall deep into the pond of beauty it is.

JGG said...

Any compliments on you lovely clock would just be redundant. I just wanted to say - now that you've had you artful emotional meltdown - and you were due - you must put on you "business man hat". No matter what - DO NOT REFUND ANY MONIES until your clock is back in your hands. You don't know her story - it might be perfectly legitamint or it truly could be a scam from an artless soul! Either way, stay true to yourself and embrace whatever lesson was offered to you from this experience.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it terrible how quickly your confidence can be knocked down? I've had a similar experience recently. A disparaging remark about my creative work - its unnerving and shakes your confidence to the core. All the positive comments are forgotten and that one negative comment haunts you and follows your around. Unfortunately there are people like that in the world, but as you can see from all this support, they are the minority. The problem lies with her, not your work and you should only offer a refund if the work is faulty, and you shouldn't let the commissioner's input dilute your artistic spirit. They need to trust you as an artist to deliver something beautiful. Maybe put that in writing before accepting work.

Representative said...

I feel silly posting... I'm not a wonderful artist or anything, but your blog is my favorite blog. I subscribe to it in my google reader, and when you post something new I save it till last and wait until I can be still and savor it properly. I hate that you were so hurt. I understand it and I wish I could fix it.

I offer something WAY off topic as a way to help if I can at all. I have a very small community group. Low attendance, very low funds, but it's my heart and I am faithful to manage everything with care and attention every day.

I will try to keep this short and get to the point.... I have had people come into my offering and abuse it as if it were a paid service or something, treating me like I'm a hired employee, making ridiculous demands and casting accusations that are not only untrue but shouldn't matter!

Well, I was eventually hurt, financially (in a small way to many, but it was big to me) as well as emotionally, then I got angry, then a certain amount of fear set in, some rejection, eventually some self pity and an 'I quit' moment or two.

Eventually, I sat me down, drafted some by-laws, or code of conduct type of a thing. It went against my grain, but it only had to be done once and posted, with an amendment or two now and again. Any problems from there on out were simply referred to the post, easily resolved and put out of my mind. I can almost forget I ever had to sit down and write the thing.

I wish I could hug you myself. I've come to care about you. Your work is incredible! Beautiful! Magical! Inspiring! PLEASE don't be discouraged. Please. You are a treasure.

Be blessed.

Karan said...

Dear Rima,

after having read your blog for ages, I am de-lurking now to let you know how grateful I am for your courage to share this sad story with us. I have had my share of rejection and hurt, too - but I have chosen to hide it, to play it down, to pretend that it doesn't exist... well, it does, and it got even worse with denial.

You have just taught me the strength that lies within vulnerability and honesty. Thank you.

Deirdra Doan said...

Maybe "As Is" should be in your agreement.
Returns of commissioned art is silly. She could have sold it. You have to make your bills.

The rejection is awful too have to deal with.....makes me realize I need to put "as is" on my Etsy. One artist Dame Darcy says..choose carefully because there are no refunds.

Your work is so wonderful..and the clock is wonderful. The woman I am sure had a very specific idea and thought your work would realize it.

Sometimes you have to be tough to protect yourself. "ie have The... AS IS... clause..KNOW exceptions..."Because your little artist girl..creativity inside needs to feel safe..so your big intellectual self needs to protect your intuitive self so she and you can work together to create more of your GREAT..BEAUTIFUL and beloved art!!!!

It is truly hard to get slammed like that...

But we are all pulling for you! I would have been crushed too!
Much love,

Tiffany Gordon-Wilson said...

Dear Rima. I can't believe somebody could commission a work from you and then 'not like it'. What a nonsense. Your art is so unique and so magical - yes, magical. As you may remember, we have two of your wonderful prints already - we bought for our baby's (now toddler's) room. We are now living in Canada by the way, and I assure you, when we are settled, we will be adding our names to your clock list. I think this Rootpond clock is so beautiful. You are an amazing talent and a gift to us all who return to your blog time and again. Tiffany x

Monika Schmid said...

Dear Rima, I am sorry to hear of your experience with the Rootpond Clock. I think you have provided an excellent solution for your buyer. I imagine that people who commission work from you do it because they love your style of painting and that is exactly what you created: a wonderful rimaesque interpretation of her wishes. It may certainly look different to what she expected but sometimes it takes a little while to get acquainted with a new piece and learn to love it.
Should you put the clock up for sale in your etsy store I would certainly be interested:-)
Your work is thoroughly enchanting and I am a huge fan even if I lurk silently in the shadows most of the time;-)
Monika xo

Ciara Brehony said...

Oh Rima, there is nothing more crushing than someone questioning or criticising our children or our creative endevours, both of which have our absolute heart and blood and soul in them!!
What a silly woman. But you know what? It's her loss. 100%. I'm not even going to go into how ridiculous it is of her.

I wish, wish, WISH I had the money to buy it. It's one of my favourites so far. I've no doubt at all you'll find someone to buy it.

It will always smart. But it will also fade and not be quite so hurtful. The number of visitors and comments here is testament to your absolute, most lovely wonderfullness!!!

C x

gz said...

Dear Rima
I am probably re-iterating other words above, but here goes...
1. Written contract
2. non-refundable deposit which covers your time and materials
3. send a good photo of the finished work
4. if they don't like it, you can sell it

All the abpve should be in the contract. Doesn't need to be heavy and complicated.
The customer needs to understand it clearly.

If things are rejected, they have not really had your work in mind, but some idea that they could not express in their own way. So that when they see your interpretation, it isn't theirs...so to them it is 'wrong'...although in itself it isn't.
So you are not at fault-and you are not alone-I have had this with commissioned pots too.

Angela said...

There is not alot I can add to what has been said already, except to say this: The clock is very beautiful and inspiring. You are an amazing artist and your work touches my spirit in a wonderful way. :-)

Ruthie Redden said...

Dear Rima, the work you do is so very much a part of you, if a person commissions a piece they should treasure it with all their heart, for they are the owner of something very precious indeed. There are always those folk who will sit outside of understanding the depth & breadth of creating, all i can feel for them is a saddness. Keep creating your magic just as you always have there is a world of believers out here stepping with you all the way x x ruthie x

young-eclectic-encounters said...

This is my first visit and WOW what a delightful creative blog. I looked through several posts and each one was fantastic in it's own way. so glad to have found your blog.
Johnina :^A

Lunar Hine said...

What I have to say is really an echo:

I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness
The astonishing light
Of your own being.

- Hafiz

raquel said...

muy bonito

Karen D said...

All I can to all the supportive comments is that If I commissioned a clock from you I would want it to look exactly like that one, it is beautiful and full of your spirit and vision


Anonymous said...

your work is the expression of your beautiful spirit and is thus perfect. how sad that it was not appreciated, sadly some people do not have the eyes to see the beauty that is right in front of them.
please do not feel bad. thankyou for sharing your feelings. you may have to accept that not everyone can feel the exquisite beauty of what you make, and are therfore the poorer. poor them i say.
Beck xx

Christine said...

Your clock is absolutely enchanting! I love the little animals especially the badger and cat!
It is hard taking that kind of rejection, but rest assured - I think that woman was an abnormality as most people's comments indicate that it is a stunning piece of artwork!

Anonymous said...

Fickle people drive me crazy! lol.
Best thing to do is add a disclaimer to all commissioned pieces and reiterate the FINAL SALE/NO REFUNDS on all items shipped. You can offer to fix/replace the item if you choose. It should stop the fickleness, add some comfort, and only serious inquiries will invest. I know she seen the photo's ahead of time, and she should have spoken up sooner.
I think it's a wonderful piece,it's really outstanding.
I too love your work, much love and hugs all the way from Canada!

Nomi McLeod said...

Phew - lots of comments to scroll down to reach a little blank blox of my own.
Thank you for sharing your story - it is amazing and comforting to me that you could feel, sometimes, just as I do. The panic and questioning of what you are doing, how criticism can feel like it penetrates the heart and is not just a comment on work...
I suppose the two are very tightly bound.

Glad you liked the Day of the Dead photos!

lots of love xxxx

Amy said...

Rima, I have so many things to say about this post, and I know (without even reading all the other comments!) that many of them have already been said, but I'll list at least a few of my thoughts here anyway.

1) First, I just think you should know that my own home is immensely enriched by the Rima art that hangs in it! The three prints I bought from you several years ago are among my most beloved possessions. In fact, I've meant to send you pictures of their beautifully framed selves for years, and having recently acquired a camera I consider up to the task, I think I may try to do just that today or tomorrow! Just to send you a little love. :-)

2) That clock, like all your clocks, is absolutely stunning. And I can imagine there are many, many of us right here in the comments section who would happily and eagerly buy it from you and give it a loving, appreciative home (certainly I count myself among those folks--though to be honest, I'd rather work with you on my very own some day).

3) Among other things, I do a lot of freelance editing, and I once had a client who came to me to help her "edit" her master's thesis. Except that after a very, very short period of time, it became very clear to me that she had no idea what an editor did, and that what she really wanted (though I doubt she even knew it) was for me to *write* her thesis for her. It strikes me that perhaps the woman who commissioned the clock had a similar impulse--she didn't really know what it would mean to have you make the clock for her at all. I suspect she had a very exact image in her head, and for whatever reason she imagined that an artist who could be commissioned to make something for her would *really* be bringing *her* vision to life--rather than working in their own visual language. Maybe she really needed to make her own clock, you know?

4) I've pretty much decided that, with a few exceptions, I do NOT like doing commissioned designs. I've had a few small tastes of it (I make jewelry), and it really doesn't work very well for me. There are, of course, a number of ways to do it if you want to do it--you can certainly create a contract with a customer that sets out to clarify your very specific--and very valid--artistic process, so that they understand what the experience will be like, and that they need to expect an actual, authentic piece of Rima art to be born from the process. Some artists *do* offer preliminary sketches, and in some cases, I think this is appropriate, but in others it's not, and I think if it doesn't feel true to your process, then it's absolutely best to avoid that way of working. With no apology necessary!

Alright, that's quite enough from me. I see I'm rather late to the conversation anyway, so I'll end it here. But I've been an enormous fan of all things Rima for years now! xoxo

The Flying Tortoise said...

Oh Rima, I do feel for you in this situation. I created a work of art once that a buyer wanted very much. He pursued me for it, got second opinions from experts and then actually paid more than the price I was asking.
Hours after the purchaser took the piece, he experienced 'Buyers Remorse', a common enough ailment where the purchaser and now owner has second thoughts. It's too big, too small, the wrong colour, there's a flaw in it, I paid too much etc...
You did what you were asked to do Rima and I'm sure you put as much love into the clock as you have previously...
The clock is perfect for the client but the client doesn't realise it yet... let some time go by and don't worry about the money... it is not your problem... and it is not your fault... Have confidence in you!

Jane said...

Rima, I visit your site often and so much admire your beautiful and artistic paintings, clocks and words. Reading this post has been the first time I've commented and I'd just like to be completely blunt and say - stuff her. She knew your style before she commisioned a clock, if she wanted a figure of an older person she should have said so.
Keep the money without a qualm, spend it on something nice, and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rima

I'm so sorry you have suffered the hurt of this rejection, but you've shown great courage and wisdom in sharing this story so honestly and seeking out its lessons.

Like many others have already said here, your work has a very special and heartfelt beauty and magic; sometimes in life it's this very soulfulness that brings hard knocks and trials. But it's lovely how, at the same time, the universe sends a gentle stream of reassurances and reminders to keep believing in yourself and making your wonderful art, whatever you might decide to change or do differently as a result of this episode.

Maybe part of the magic of the Rootpond Clock, was that it showed the woman who commissioned it a beautiful part of herself that she doesn't want to acknowledge, and so she turned away from it. I know that the clock will find a new home where it is loved and appreciated all the more.

Sorry for being a little late, but wanted to add these words anyway.

Much love, many blessings,

AC x

erin said...

yes, yes, it has all been beautifully said, and you seem to have skirts straightened and apron on square once again, as it should be. if not, after ALL the support and bolstering offered here, nothing i can say will do the trick, either. but i know you are right and well and so all that is left to say is this...my heart cries for the clock. but i know, damn it, that the clock will have her day. the heartbeat of her tick tock will be matched rightly by the heart of the one that will love her.

Maggie said...

The clock is beautiful. 'nuff said.

Unknown said...

The sadness of this situation is so apparent just from your written words. I think the clock is beautiful and it seems to be exactly what she asked for. I looked at the other clocks you've made and I think it's amazing how you take a hunk of wood and make it into a gorgeous piece of art. Truly amazing. I'm so sorry for this situation and how it's made you feel. Don't let this one person ruin your faith in yourself. Don't let the one bad comment outweigh ALL of these good ones.

bhán said...

What a painful experience! I'm always shocked at how occasionally someone's negative comment can shake the foundation so powerfully.

I hope you have had enough time to feel a bit better about this now, it is a lovely clock. It is in no way atypical of your work, so it's hard to understand why the buyer is unhappy. I have noticed that some people see an artist's work, say they love it, then want their commissioned piece different somehow. It's inexplicable, and an impossible situation for the artist.

Hopefully hearing in person and on-line from your many admirers will help you feel a bit better. Wishes for happiness and all the best,


Emerald Window said...

Wow! Look at all of the people who love you! I hope it is enough to counteract the negativity that some heartless and clueless woman threw onto you.
The clock is much loved by everyone else. I hope it finds it's way into the hands of one of these people who love it so much.

Sian Thomas said...


It sounds as though the woman intended to reject your work all along. She may have money worries or other concerns about owning it (a scary partner, perhaps) and is using the work as an excuse, though I doubt she's at all aware what she's doing. Unfortunately you and your beautiful clock have got caught in her problems. I hope you can get it back soon, along with your confidence. You are extremely talented, both as a visual artist and a writer.

S x

Ulla said...

Rima, what a wonderfully written and thought provoking post. I'm not sure I can add anything to all the amazing words already said - beyond my own support and 'Bravo' for your sticking to your artistic intentions. Like many have expressed here, I too have once in a while fallen into the comfort zone of taking commissions and on occassion met with unhappy results. Artists by nature, almost always wear their heart on their sleeves, and the pain of rejection seems to never truly disappear. I find it nearly impossible not to take it personally.

As a 'hopeful' on your list of possible clock commissions, I would hate to see you give up these 'labors of love' but completely understand if you should choose to just create what speaks in your soul.

I find it shocking that a commissioner would respond to one of your pieces as "It just doesn't speak to me..." or "It's not quite what I had in mind", having given you a brief story-line and faith in you as an artist. (And as an aside, are 'young woman' and maid not synonymous???) Your work Rima, has such a consistant feel and look, so 'Rima-ish' each piece shows your dedication and heartfelt time and energy. When one buys a 'Rima' one buys a part of you and your personal interpretation of life.

The discussion here and continued on Terri's blog is so valuable and important in this day and age of 'instant art' and 'cyber transactions'. A little old-fashioned 'screed' is good medicine for those of us with hearts and souls that bleed for art.

Love and kisses

Trollman said...

Reading this post and the comments has been fascinating. This is such a difficult issue, I remember years ago completing a sculpture for a regular customer, but it wasn't what he wnated at all, in fact what he wanted wasn't really what I did. It was an odd commission and not one easily sold on. He eventually paid up but I made something else for him.
An artistic idea is so hard to pin down until you see the final work and often the dialogue between creator and buyer is unclear, even with design sketches.
If you go into a shop and order an item from a catalogue everyone is clear about what they are buying, if the end product is not as expected you get a refund. This doesn't work for art.
When I was at art college the idea of discussing the business side of being an artist was frowned upon. I wonder if it has changed? As arists and business people we need to be very clear on what we are doing not only for our own protection but also for that of the customer.

Gilli said...

I think maybe the woman should use the money for art lessons and she can then try to paint what she thinks she wants. It is a beautiful piece, but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.

Owen said...

There is so much written here that is wise and caring, I don't think I've ever seen so many comments on a blog post, with so much warmth and love for your work and your soul poured out in this comment box journal...

I for one am dreaming of the day when I can travel to England, and find a country fair where you are selling your wares, your wondrously wrought works... I have not the slightest shadow of an autumn doubt that I would see much in your work that I would absolutely want to bring home with me... and I would be torn trying to choose, but eventually would settle on something lovely, something signed "Rima", and I will take it home and treasure it forever.

And I promise I would never dream of asking for a refund. Dreams are not refundable. Nor is magic.

May you walk in peace and harmony and smiles, let not one harpy heave a cartload of unhappiness in your path.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the woman who missed the magic and the story of the picture and art you put in front of her very eyes!!! I lookded at the clock and saw light and about a hundred stories . its the dreamy quality of your art that inspires this in people, and that poor woman cant see. dont change your vision,your story by laying it out for someone to dictate ,its YOURS. no one else can pour it through the brush. I too understand living on the brink or believe me i would order a clock with any scene or story you felt to bestow on me. you have the magic ,she is blind.

TwistyTree said...

Dear, dear Rima, I am so sorry to be reading this about the unhappy client and your unhappiness about the situation. You are absolutely right in feeling the way you do. I hope an equitable solution can be found very soon. For the record, I love your work and I look forward to be able to commission a clock of my very own in the near future.

Anonymous said...


You are an extraordinarily talented artist, with skill that far surpasses what little reimbursement you ask for in return. I do not think for any reason that you should compromise your artistic process to accommodate one fussy patron who clearly does not understand the value of the piece you have offered her, or the surprises and/or risks involved in commissioning works of art. If she wanted to know what she was going to get from the beginning, she could have purchased one of your lovely prints. I do hope from this experience, at least, you come to realize how truly strong and international the admiration for your work has become, and continue to always be true to the essence of your style and personal values.

Most sincerely,
An admirer in Salem, Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

I too am on your clock list. Please don't change a thing. You are so much stronger than you're giving yourself credit for.

A Fan from San Antonio, Texas

suz said...

Glancing thru the responses here, I believe most hold the same feelings I do. It is truly a shame this person didn't appreciate this beautiful work of art. I find it strange she could see your work and not see that you did what she asked. I would let it go and chalk it up to experience. Hopefully, thru these comments you see that your talent as an artist IS truly appreciated. I would not offer a sketch of any kind, unless you were at a loss as to what was being requested. Part of the beauty of a commission is that someone who loves your style work has given you some notions of what they would like in their special piece and is then leaving it in your hands to translate those notions. That being said, I work for attorneys and it's amazing what sets people off. I would, from this point on, send a disclaimer including the fact that you will not refund the money. No one ever begins to pay an artist what they are truly worth. The cost you have attached to these clocks is a deal!

Cindy Brandner said...

Dear Rima,

If she can't appreciate the clock, I fear it's her problem, not yours. As to the bark separating from the wood, wood glue will fix that up in about ten minutes.

I am the author of two books, which just happen to be self-published. Nevertheless I've managed to gather fans from around the world. There was a lady who wrote me to tell me how much she loved the books, couldn't wait for the next one, and how the characters had become such dear friends to her that she considered them real in her life. Then some time later she found out, on a public board, how they were published. She told me that despite loving the books she now felt 'cheated' by me, and that I had 'pulled the wool over her eyes but good' and ought to be ashamed of myself. I couldn't really fathom what she meant- after all they were still the same books, written in exactly the same words as the books she had professed to love so much. Yet it stung and was, to boot, publicly humiliating.

You were contracted to provide a clock, you did so beautifully, if she had somethinge entirely specific in mind, perhaps she ought to have attempted to paint it herself. :)

Cindy Brandner

Peng Peng said...

I just love the Hermitage and your work is amazing. I too earn a living off my art (and teeter on the poverty line) so I totally understand how you are feeling by this situation. I echo all the other 156+ comments here that the clock is wonderful and try not to let this shatter your self-confidence. hugs to you and keep creating. xoxo

onegoldensun said...

I am sorry to hear of your troubles. I hope it has been worked out for you. I really feel compelled to comment of the absolute beauty of this clock. I love it so very much. I cannot fathom complaining about such a beautiful art piece such as this. I saw it and felt the awe and my heart lit up with delight! Wishing you best resolution and thank you for giving me such a bit of artisitic wonderment to swoon over.

Jess said...

I see not just how much thought, effort and care goes into each piece you make but the warm love of your heart that it holds. This clock, along with all your other treasures will be loved by another one day. We should feel sorry that the lady in question hasn't been touched by the beauty. It's so very much her loss. Can I just say Rima, that me and no doubt many many others are very grateful that we've 'met' you here and for your wonderful inspirational posts. :)xx

Carolee said...

I'm jumping into this discussion a bit late, but with tears in my eyes as I read how one obviously unhappy and demanding person could cause you to question your process.

I too make my living from the sale of my work, and live literally from one sale to the next, so I understand how devastating a "refund" request can be (had this happen myself recently because someone changed their mind on the expenditure after putting down a deposit).

Your work is exquisite, and what you've offered is MORE than fair. Please don't let this person be a drain on your creativity...

~ Carolee (hoping to commission a clock myself one day!)

Unknown said...

Love the clock, would buy it if I had the money... it should be a loved creation and how shallow of that person to ask for a refund!

Stay true to your self and artistic nature, your creations are unique and wondrous.
Maybe a "no refund" policy on commissioned work should be stated clearly??

Unknown said...

Dear Rima

This is terribly upsetting for you and I think we all know whats even more upsetting and thats the fact that your most beautiful clock is still in the hands of this woman who is completely unappreciative of your heart and soul that has gone into it. Trust us when we all say please dont loose sight of everything that you hold dear to you because it is cleary visible in every piece of work that you produce and thats what makes you who you are and why we all adore you.
Perfectly sensible solution that you put forward to this woman, maybe she has had a change of heart and has decided to keep it but personally I dont want her to have your clock anymore.

Dont ever change XX

ArtyZen said...

I am sure all the previous comments have made it clear that you don't need to feel shaken any longer by this experience - but I too feel strongly that this woman lives in a different world to you and many of us who love your work and is the poorer for it. I don't want her to have your clock but I pity her as well in a way.
And yes, I wish I had the money to buy it too as it's beautiful.

PL Deaton Designs said...

It is truly about time that an artist stand up for themselves and speak the words that all artists feel upon receiving an unappreciative response from a buyer. You have not lost your muchness!!

Cat (darklingwoods) said...

Oh Dearest Rima, thank you for sharing your story, I'm glad you are feeling better about your enchanting clock. Clearly this patron had a preconceived picture of what they expected instead of being open to your magic. The clock is stunning, and a piece of art (which is a piece of you) of course can't be refunded. I've been fortunate not to have this happen after a commission but I once did preliminary sketches (4 different versions!)which took hours
received thrilled approval and then never a confirmation/order. I wonder what were they thinking? was it just a lark? Meanwhile like you I was left to wonder if it was me, my work. We can be fragile things.

Rima what you said about casting your net around the world is so true! I mention you quite often (I'm also a full time art teacher and I love to tell my students about you) Thank you for being so wonderful real and magical all at once!

Sarah said...

Oh Rima, I feel for you, we are all the same, so unsure of ourselves, your work is stunning and because it is so much a part of you it shimmers and glimmers like starlight. That is why it hurts so much to be regected. I so wish that I had enough money to buy the clock and solve your problem but I cant. You must let it go, if she keeps the clock then you keep the money, your "child" will survive and find a loving home I am sure! I wish someone would bring back patrons of the arts, rich folk who would pay you to be you and you would never have to do another commission, (I hate doing them!)

Isabel Augusto said...

You could have not expressed yourself better :)
For me...it all resumes itself to this you said:

"Too much control in the hands of the commissioner kills the spark for me"

Paint and do your art from the heART instead of letting someone tell you how to do it.
That is the Rima we know and admire.

Rebecca said...

I see that ultimately it has done you good, for you were shaken but did not fall. You have reassessed your own work again and it is still lovely to you. :)

Jane said...

Hi Rima, it's my first visit to your wonderful blog....I shall be catching up on all these posts including the "Clock Tale". ;0)

treevoice said...

this is absolutely beaaaautiful, Rima. btw, this is my first visit to your blogspot--though I think you follow me on tumblr (I'm overrunwithghosts). I love it! I'll definitely be keeping up with your stuff--kudos to a brilliant fellow artist and pagan!

Heidi said...

Dearest Rima,
this is such an important topic and I totally understand how you would want this resolved and feel at peace about doing custom work in future.
In case it is of help, I wanted to share with you how Rick and I have handled custom requests in our woodcrafting over the past ten years:
Not wanting to feel any pressure while creating, we do not take any money up front, but simply create a piece in our style, putting our heart and soul into it. Upon completion we present it to our customer (either with detailed photos or in person) and tell them that if they like it they may now purchase it.
Going this route gives us comfort while we create and keeps the piece totally 'ours'. If for some reason the person should not like it, we are quite confident that there is someone else that will appreciate it. This has worked extremely well for us, the best part being that there is absolutely no pressure on any party.
What happened with your exquisite clock is an extremely rare event and many, many would appreciate it exactly the way it is (me for one!!).
Perhaps this occasion just arose for a lesson to be learned.

Loving the great beauty of your work and this blog,
Much love,
Heidi & Rick

Tricks said...

Everyone has already said so much about the unwanted work, but that's what artist's do they interpret and the mistake is with the commissioner for not giving good instructions. It is beautiful in my eyes and if I could afford it I would buy it from you. Do not be swayed. Continue to paint from the heart and don't forget there are plenty of Critics out there this one is not the only one. Best Wishes Tricia

ezrablu said...

Rima...I'm sorry that no matter what kind words people say..you and all others knowing your art is truly incredible...the pain of what was said plus knowing your one of kind amazing creation is in the hands of an uncaring buyer...can never be taken away.
I hope time will wash this memory away or at least blur it.
You are a mind blowing artist and that clock is absolutely delightful and beautiful...not one person in the world would ever agree with this woman's view.

AlexInWelderland said...

I am so sorry you have had to go through this. I have anxiety every time I do a commissioned piece. A lot of times people project their own issues onto the work. She may have spent more money than she could afford and is justifying it (even subconsciously) by telling herself she doesn't like it. You just don't know.

I do not offer refunds for custom work, but I will rework the part they are not happy with. It's not a perfect answer, but I ultimately feel better when the buyer is happy. I don't often have this happen, but it to completely possible to change the situation so you feel good about it and she feels good about it.

For example, the bark issue. She might just fear it breaking, not knowing anything about how the wood actually holds together. Offer to secure it for her? Ask her what would make her happy. But do state that there are no refunds for custom work. It is a huge thing for artists to 'stand up' for their work in the realm of 'money'. It's organically disconnected from us, but learnable. It's a leap of faith, but it will make you stronger.

Thank you for your blog. I found you about a year ago, and because of you, I am working towards a life on the road and have never been happier!

Sarah said...

I always read your words and get so drawn in by their beauty and wiseness.
I find shopping for art and handcrafted goods in, say, a market, really hard, as I feel for the seller if I look over their work, then reject it by not buying something. I love Etsy particularly for this reason!
I have sold a few things over the years, and like you am incredibly nervous in case someone would not like it. I can imagine how you felt. It seems as if the lady you made the clock for is probably not an artist of any sort, or she would have approached you in a way that was sensitive to your feelings. I suppose to not like your clock is something she cannot help, but to assume that something made over time and with love and care can just be refunded is insensitive.
Ah well. I think your clock is lovely!

Lydia said...

Hello Rima
I am quite shocked that anyone would possibly think that such a beautiful object would be unsatisfactory. I for one would just love to own one of your exquisite clocks and indeed hope to do just that one day. I have your Hotchiwitchi on the wall here now. It is however not possible to please everyone in this world.
With the best of wishes.

Katie said...

well its one of the prettiest ones you've ever done if it were up for sale,it would be sold in a minute.

I don't do commissions precisely because of this reason,thanks for being so honest in your whole entry about your fears,thoughts and feelings and values I think this is why you garner such response from people rima.

Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog only a few days ago, and already it is on the page that comes up first when I turn on my computer.

I had a similar experience when I was a weaver. Someone did not see what I had created as the vision they asked me to create. However, in my case, the weaving was not refused and the money was paid. I just knew she didn't like it much. So I had the money, but I felt bad.

I love your work. I don't need a clock, but I would love to commission a picture from you. I understand that it would be YOUR vision of what I describe. Please contact me if you are interested.


mixdbrew said...

I feel nothing but pity for the woman who did not see the magic in your clock. She probably wanted something larger-than-life and could not take how simple and human you make your characters. Your mother earth is not a majestic, intimidating, flowing-gown-and-hair, sprinkled with fairydust kind of creature. She's humble, kindly, earthy, rooted and soothes you instead of making you gasp in awe and submit. That's what I adore about your work, Rima...the simplicity, warmth and the sheer humanity that peeps through. And this tale you recounted reiterates that you are that person.

Don't let somebody's wonder-less eyes bother you. Everybody drops by the Hermitage for a respite from their daily lives, because it's the most calm, soothing and wonder-clad place on the planet :)Forgive the too-many words and adjectives!!...I just wanted to let you know how much your work means to me.

Johanna Pieterman said...

Rima, thank you for writing this post, it is inspirational! I have been in the same situation and it is horrible, but you will come out of it with renewed belief in yourself. Keep on creating your beautiful work.
xx J.

Linda said...

I simply found this one of the most appealing and enchanting pieces of your art I have seen. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, but most importantly perhaps, recognised with their heart. Please don't feel discouraged by this event. The clock is Beautiful. Linda x

Kevin said...

Sorry..I had to laugh. I've been making a living as an artist for 18 years and still was absolutely certain my career was over 2 weeks ago. Talk about over reacting. I don't think diving into a whiskey bottle was the answer to my problem, but it definitely settled my nerves. It's good you found a place to vent..hopefully, your customer has a deeper appreciation.
I was actually going to add a blog page to my site tonight and was poking around to see what other people were doing. Glad I found your page. Great blog..writing..artwork, etc. All the best.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion to you is the same as the advice I give to myself - thank her in your heart. You had a lesson to learn and you (at least your higher self) created the situation to help you learn and grow. She (at least her higher self) came along to help you do this. It might be a lesson about trusting your creative spirit, or trusting other, or placing boundaries. Whatever it is, it comes with love.

I'm learning it's not easy to view things in this light, but it does help in feeling that that we can grow and flourish even when times feel rough.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry your artistic endeavors were not received favorably. The clock is beautiful and truly a work of art. I see the ideas she had for it in your work and don't fully understand some people's expectations. I have recently stumbled onto your blog and found your art on etsy- recently bought a print "Mountain song for my wordless son." I look forward to more of your work..

Helen Morley said...

Hi Rima. Just found this site again having slipped away for a while and was very interested in this post particularly. I got my fine art degree this summer and I am somehow scraping by as an artist, generally making horrible commissions that are not part of my soul work (which so far has not sold at all) but just made my first soul commission. I sent a photo of it to the commissioner who has only offered the comments "bemused" and "well, as long as YOU like it" which means he doesn't! But I know I made it with love, truth and intuition from the spirit, so I am not ashamed of it and as no money has exchanged hands yet, I will keep it and honour it myself. I have been reassured by your calm and peaceful post considering the same issue and I thank you for posting it. It has helped me today. May all blessing be with you. Helen