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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pastel FAQ: The Development of a Commission




'Together'       11x14     pastel 
It is magic when I can create a painting that matches someone's vision.  That is part of the joy of working on commissions.  I know a lot of artists who don't enjoy painting commissions but I welcome the challenge.  I have met so many people with interesting and sometimes compelling stories.  I could write a book based on the commissions I have done and the stories behind them.

Commissions are a challenge though. When someone wants a special painting they usually have a vision in mind or at least strong feelings about the subject. My job is to try to figure out what they want and get as close as possible without sacrificing my style. Here are some photos of my most recent commission along with my commission process.

My working space with reference photos and study
The 5x7 study for the painting
Step 1: I painted the gulls before the background


  1. The first step in the commission process is to agree on size and pricing. I don't request payment in advance because I want the client to be completely satisfied. I have only had one cancelled commission and it was due to an illness in the client's family.
  2. Next we discuss the idea for the painting. I try to get as much detail as possible about subject, colors, composition, mood. I have the client show me photos of my work that best matches their vision.
  3. I then do some small color studies. I use the paper and underpainting techniques that I plan to use for the final painting. Through email, we discuss the color study and agree on the final details.
  4. Time to paint! When I am finished with the painting I take several photos and email the client. If needed I will make changes until the client is pleased. 
The story behind this commission: The painting is based on a poem written by the client. The painting includes elements in the poem and each element has a very special and personal meaning. The client initially saw one of my seagull paintings but requested a commission that would incorporate the elements from the poem. 

I welcome commissions in both oil and pastel. I am currently accepting commissions for the holiday season. Please email me if you have an idea for a special painting.

1 comment:

Rokon said...

Nice painting. Thanks for your great work.