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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Five Tips for Painting Commissions

'Spring Fantasy'       8x10       pastel        ©Karen Margulis

 It seems as though everyone has a commission nightmare story. Hearing them is enough to keep many artists from doing commissions. I have had some close calls but no real nightmares. Many of them could have been prevented. I have learned through experience. I have truly been enriched by each commission painting I have completed.

Along the way I have developed ground rules for doing a commission. The rules have helped make the process rewarding and positive.

Tip #1   Paint what you love and what you love to paint. I have gotten some strange requests. Some things were not in my comfort zone. Some of them I tried but made it clear to the client that I would try but not promise. Now I only accept commissions for a subject that I LOVE to paint. I do my best work when I am enjoying the subject. (and if the commission falls through I have a paining that I actually enjoy)

'Meadow Study #1'         5x7         
TIP #2  Work with clients that give you freedom to use your artist license. My favorite client is someone who tells me they love my work and use my best judgement in interpreting the subject. The freedom to create something without being tied to strict directions makes the commission fun.

'Meadow Study #3'           5x7         
TIP #3  Be clear with your expectations and requirements. I don't use a contract or even require an advance payment. I  have never had any problems. Perhaps I have just been lucky. But I only paint what I like and make sure it won't be so specific that I can't find another home for the painting.  If you have a contract or certain requirements make sure everyone understands them before you begin painting.

'Meadow Study #4'           5x7        
Tip #4 Take the time to do small studies for larger commissions. It is well worth the time and materials to do a small color study to show the client. This way composition and color can be addressed and everyone can agree. It is easier to make corrections and changes in the study phase than on a large painting.

The Queen Annes Lace paintings in today's post are small quick studies I did for a potential commission. The client sent me photos of the space where the painting will go. That gave me a better understanding of what might work. She gave me a rough idea of her wants....the four studies now give her a visual aid to help her decide on the details of the larger painting.

Tip #5  Make sure the client gives you the correct painting size. It happens a lot. Especially for larger paintings. A client will tell me the size they need for the space and ask for a painting that size. They don't remember to take into consideration the final size after framing. I know now to ask them if they have a frame size in mind so we can choose the best actual painting size for the space.

Painting commissions has opened up a new world of painting opportunities. I have worked with wonderful people who truly enjoy my work. I love doing commissions as long as they follow my five tips!

The rejected paintings

Update to this post.  I am sharing this post from the archives because I just had my first commission fail! I didn't follow my own advice. The client asked me for me to reproduce some of my paintings exactly. That was the red flag. I told them that I was an artist not a copy machine and would paint something similar but it couldn't be exact. The results were not up to their expectations. Her loss is my gain but from now on I will trust my instincts and turn down commissions that don't fit my guidelines.


Foggyfroggy said...

Oooooo, that bottom right painting? Anyone who rejected that has rocks in their head is all I gotta say! Or any of them for that matter, but boy do I love that one!

Judy Hackett said...

I don't know why "Spring Fantasy" is in the reject pile! I think it is striking. How much $ would you ask for it?

Karen said...

Thank you Judy! It has been sold but u so appreciate your kind words and interest!