Throwback Thursday: Belted Kingfisher on Birch

Belted Kingfisher on Birch (Transparent Watercolor on W&N 140lb NCP Paper 10 x 14 in) Original available

Belted Kingfisher on Birch (Transparent Watercolor on W&N 140lb NCP Paper 10 x 14 in) Original available

Around our house we call this painting the “Birch Perch.” This one has a bit of a history. I like the painting, but every time I look at it I feel a little sick to my stomach. Why? Here’s the “Readers Digest” version of the story:

I was commissioned by a mail-order outfit that caters to birders to create cover art for their catalog. (Ask me in person if you’d like to know exactly who it was.) They really liked some paintings I’d done of birds on birch trees but wanted a Belted Kingfisher for their cover. They had a very tight deadline and an even tighter budget. Over the years I’ve learned that this should set off the alarm bells.  Typically it is a sign you’re dealing with someone who is going to be unprofessional. As an added “bonus,” they also tend to be the pickiest clients.

Today I’d walk away from the project. Nineteen years ago, I didn’t. I met my deadlines and delivered the final files. They loved the artwork. Unfortunately, loving it and paying for it are two very different things. I shot off some heated emails and made a few phone calls, but in the end they never paid me. So, when I look at this painting it reminds me of getting ripped off. The company is still around, but under new management. I’ll assume this sort of behavior is a thing of the past for their business, but I certainly won’t be ordering anything from them!

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