Thursday, December 15, 2016


24" x 54" (x3) Tryptch



Elequent on the wall.
My latest project working on this three panel commission.


My favorite part about working a commission is that the painting becomes a work of art between two people. I like to think as the person who is commissioning the painting as the artist as well. So, there are two of us working on creating an original abstract painting. 

As an artist there are so many different ways to approach working on a commissioned painting. If you have never done this I would suggest checking out how various other artist handle this.

Here, I'm going to take you through the steps that I have learned. The above shown painting was unique in that it was local whereas most of the time I have worked with commissions on line. The difference being that I was able to hang the painting up and get a feel for it in it's new home before deciding on the final adjustments. This can't not be done when working with shipping.

  • Ok. so here it goes. The first step is of course being contacted then, input, input, input. At this point there is no commitment betweens parties. This is a good time to send photos, ask questions, inquire about size, time frame, styles, color palette, etc.,  Some clients may have very specific ideas and know exactly what they want, others may need a little more direction, some may give you a color palette or it could be re-creating a painting with a similar feel and then there have been those who might just give you a size and say something like " I love your work" just paint what ever you want! Each commission will be so very unique in how it's approached. It is so important to spend time, as long it takes nailing down ideas, size of painting, color palette, etc. 
  • Next will follow giving a client a quote and a time frame.  Over the years I have learned that the best way for me to price my paintings is by size, keeping it consistent. To figure the price of a quote I will simply take the price I would ask for that painting and add one fourth (25%) of it's price as a commission fee.
  • SO what is a commission fee?  Good question.  If not asked, they might wonder why the painting the same size cost more, so I usually go ahead and explain it. The commission fee covers many hidden expenses.  Specially ordered or custom sized canvases, time spent working together, time taken away from other work, adjustments that need to be made or could even mean a total re-do.
  • Time frame.  This is one question that is always asked. I am a fast painter and once I've been commissioned to a work I like to get it done and off of my plate asap. There is much to take into consideration. Are there other paintings that are needing to get done before you start? Is there going to need to be a custom order canvas made? Size you will be working on, etc, I'm comfortable with saying that it will take at least 4-6 weeks, but most usually get done way before this time frame.
  • Getting the correct size is especially important when working on line. It's a good idea to have a template made with paper, cardboard or tape making sure that you get the exact canvas size desired for the space the client is going to hang the painting. This way you can know if the proportions are going to be correct for the size of the sofa, bed, mantle, etc.,
  • Once we've nailed down the ideas, size and the asking price for the painting it's time to begin, but not before asking for a non-refundable downpayment. How much should you ask? Many artist go with 50%. I have always asked for 25% with final payment due upon approval of the painting. This can help to cover expenses in the event the commission is canceled.
  • NOW LET'S BEGIN THE PAINTING! often times this has already begun as I've been mulling ideas over in my head...especially if I'm having to wait for a canvas to arrive. All these ideas will eventually unfold on the canvas.

Emotive 24" x 48"

"Emotive" was used in part as the inspiration for my latest commission. The client I was working with liked in particular the high horizontal composition and color scheme. She also loved another painting "Salient" (also seen by scrolling down) I now have an idea of what she would like and begin painting. I had also taken pictures while at her home for some of the colors in her formal dining room.  I was impressed by the pearly neutral whites in on the front side of her buffet (seen above) and just knew those would be beautiful for this painting.

La Bella, 24" x 36" Available.

This painting was created as a trial run for the larger one. (which by the way is now available!) I sent this pic to Shawna just to see if it was along the lines of what she was thinking. It was, but she also asked if perhaps a bit of blue could be used.  I responded with we'll give it a try.

  • The painting began with a lot of runs, liquid paint poured along the high horizon and allowed to run as I knew I wouldn't keep all of them. 
  • Next, it was a process of layering, many layers. I worked my self back and forth between working on the band area and the neutral area. In the end it would be the band area that we wanted to be the focal point.
  • Neutrals were harder to work with than what they appear to be. Blues were added in the band but I simply did not feel comfortable going with much more than what is seen at the top of the painting. 
  • As I went along, I begin adding more and more whites pulling the contrast out until I reached a point where it was reminding me of Salient ALOT. 
  • The painting was taken to the clients house and hung. She asked that the band be brought down some and thought the white run would work well. I noticed, that I wanted to pick up more of the cool tones in the neutrals.

  • After having made the discussed adjustments the above image was sent for final approval.  Shawna loved it, except asked if perhaps something couldn't be done to soften the white run up. Ok, so I had to think on this one a bit. It's acrylic paint.
  • This painting had turned out to be so similar to Salient, and yet the white just didn't work on it near as well???mmm.
  • My first attempt was to try and remove some of it buy softening it up with some alcohol. Although, this worked it was going to take forever to remove it. However, it did soften enough to where I was able to scratch into the paint. which led me to the next idea...and next. close-up of this can be seen with the last pic.

Salient, 30" x 40" sold.

softening up the whites

  • Having sent a final pic with the whites softened up(which by the way I think worked out just right for this painting) for approval.  It was time to set up a time for this new commissioned painting to go to it's new home. As I mentioned, earlier this was a local work which made it convenient to be able to take the painting on location.
  • Most of the time I work on line depending on good communication and good pics. It is very important to make sure and take good photographs that represent the painting as close to the real thing as possible.
  • The last step is to send an image for approval and then the payment for the remainder of the balance before shipping.
  • Then, time to ship!        
Happy client, happy artist! ...elizabeth


website: here

1 comment:

Julie Ford Oliver said...

Hi Elizabeth. I thank you for taking the time to do this post. I got a lot out of it.
The painting ended up being perfect for my taste too... as well as the happy client!