Saturday, March 12, 2016

Three Simple Rules for a Painting Commission

'A Peaceful Way of Life'        16x20        pastel         ©Karen Margulis     sold

You either love them or hate them. That seems to be the consensus regarding painting commissions. Some artists welcome commissions and enjoy creating custom work. Some prefer to steer clear of them. I happen to love them. I just finished a nine painting commission project which has been a a lot of fun.(today's blog paintings)  I have developed some simple rules to guide me through the commission process. This ensures that the entire process is stress free and enjoyable.

Whether you are a full time artist or just painting for fun sooner or later you will be asked to paint something special for someone. Having some rules or guidelines in place will make it easy! Here are mine.



  • No Down Payment. I like to keep things simple. I don't have a lot of requirements. I don't ask for a down payment before I start a painting because I will only paint something that others might want to purchase. In other words it cannot be so unique or bizarre that it would never sell. I have done many commissions and only one time was a commission cancelled while in progress due to illness of the client. That painting went on to win an award in an exhibition! Being free of any money takes the pressure off. I am simply painting for enjoyment and if the client is pleased then they pay.....I never have any problems with payment.


  •  Be Clear and upfront about what you will paint. I will only paint subjects I am comfortable with. I will only take commissions of places I have visited.  I prefer to work from my own photos of the place. I don't mind having the client suggest colors or give input but I decide if those suggestions will result in a painting that will stand on it's own....that someone else might like as well! A commission painting has to be something I would choose to paint on my own. That is what makes it fun and less pressure for me!



  • Emphasize that the painting will not be an exact copy of something else. It could be similar to a painting I have already done but it will never be an exact copy. I make sure the client knows this before I start. I usually paint small studies before painting anything large and email photos for approval before I start. This eliminates misunderstandings although it is important to also emphasize that the painting will not be an exact copy of the study either.




 Painting commissions has added a wonderful dimension to my life as an artist. Even though most of the contact with clients is online or by phone it has been great to get to know those who choose to purchase my work.  As long as I am clear about my expectations and my 3 rules.....commissions are very welcome!

All nine paintings together

4 comments:

Lauraine said...

Hi Karen...first of all, I'd like to thank you for being so faithful to your blog. I look forward to seeing what you have shared every morning! It's how I start my day...and I have learned so very much from you! One day, I hope to be close enough to take a workshop with you. You are a great artist and brilliant teacher. I was fascinated by your project for the hospital...I wondered about the panels you used...were they plywood or some other material?

Again...many many thanks to you...
lauraine laframboise ontario canada

robertsloan2art said...

These are good rules! I've had to back off on that due to my disabilities, bad weather or anything can interfere and make even the most generous deadline impossible to meet.

Karen said...

Thank you Robert! I don't like deadlines so I can certainly understand!

Lauaine,
Thank you. The hotel panels were wood of some sort. I don't know what kind. The hopsital paintings were on Uart paper.

Sea Dean said...

Good guidelines Karen. I do a lot of nature paintings such as nests and pet portraits on commission, but not usually landscapes. I do take half payment up front for two reasons - 1. I can afford the best quality canvas and paints up front. 2. Pet portraits are very specific and not usually saleable to anyone except the owner of the pet. I make sure the patron knows they must be happy and I welcome feedback on likeness etc. I've learned that most pet owners are very specific about making their pet sleek and eliminate anything paunchy. :)