Commission a painting and you'll have something unique to treasure forever
People ask me to paint pictures especially for them for various reasons; to mark a ‘big’ birthday perhaps, or for an occasion or event, such as a wedding gift. I have painted commissions that recall significant events or places in people’s lives, a walk through a specific landscape, a map, or a line from a favourite book.
Note: I only very occasionally take on pet portraits as there are other artists far better qualified than me that specialise in this area. I don’t do commissioned people portraits at all – this is not an area I feel comfortable except for my own pleasure.
If you’re interested in commissioning a painting, there’s a number of things I need you to consider before we do anything else, so please read on.
Medium and format
Are you looking for a watercolour or an acrylic or something else? My default medium is watercolour.
Is there a format you prefer, for example, square, long and thin like a letterbox (I call this ‘panoramic’) or rectangular?
Its shape may be determined by the space you anticipate the final work to hang in, or its purpose (for example, will it need to conform to A size?)
Size and budget
What size should your painting be? Size clearly affects price, as does
complexity, and whether you‘d like me to get it framed for you or not.
Typically commissions cost anywhere between
£300 to £1000. A more complex piece (for example, a map) may be around
£1000 for a small one to £2000+ depending on size and detail required.
I will give you an estimate based on what you tell me.
What will be the subject of your painting? Who is it for? Why do you want it? What significant things need to be in it? So many questions!
If I understand your story and the reason why you want this painting, I can put my heart and soul into making it. We can discuss this by phone or email.
Making a list of the elements you need to see in the painting is a great place for you to start.
Is there a date when you need the finished item framed and ready to hang? If it’s for someone’s birthday this is evidently quite important!
I need to think and research your painting, paint it and, if you want, get it framed.
As I lead a very busy life and often have other projects lined up, please leave me plenty of time to factor your painting into my schedule.
Commissioning a painting is not a simple transaction of you acquiring a painting you’ve already seen and know you like.
Whatever I produce will ultimately be my vision, my painting and my interpretation inspired by your idea.
I can’t ever see exactly what’s in your mind’s eye.
This is an inescapable truth. Commissions require trust. Look at my paintings carefully before you commit.
How it works
You will need to do your homework! I will need visual or printed reference materials that only you can generate, and a carefully thought-through list of some of the things you want to see in your painting.
Once we have agreed a commission and I have begun composing the work and painting, it is very difficult (usually impossible) for me to
change anything. So you have to trust me to get on with the work (you will have already seen my work and know I can do it) and I have to trust that you’ll have it.
During the course of creating your painting I will contact you regularly with progress reports and photos, and will ask for your input whenever I need clarifications.
Right and wrong - a case study
I once took a commission from someone for a painting they could already ‘see’ it in their mind’s eye. I explained I couldn’t see into someone else’s head, but I (in hindsight, foolishly) agreed to the commission. They didn’t want my first painting, even though it was what they’d asked for.
So I took more detailed notes from them about what was ‘wrong’ with it and went away to paint precisely what they asked for.
The second painting still wasn’t ‘right’. It quickly became obvious that I was never going to get it right.
Fortunately, the subject matter they chose made it easy for me to sell my two ‘failed’ attempts to other buyers, (in fact they were snapped up!) so my time and efforts were not in vain.
But if the painting you would like is very personal, and specific to you, your family and circumstances, it would be impossible for me to sell it to another buyer.
I won’t ask you to sign any contracts; I much prefer to build a trusting relationship with you. For new buyers, I ask for a non-refundable proportion of my estimate up front – usually 50%.
The thought, love and care we put into its creation now, the story behind it, and the spirit of the final piece will last a lifetime. I won’t let you down.