Commissioning A Painting

"Sofa" by Holly Farrell

You have a big, empty wall space and you want something special to hang there, but you just haven’t found the perfect fit. Maybe you love a certain artist’s work, but none of her pieces are the right size or color for your decor.
Commissioning a piece of work can be a great solution and can be a thrilling (but intimidating) experience. I have been on both sides of this experience, so I fully understand the concerns of both parties. Here is a basic idea of what to expect from the commissioning process, and how to avoid problems. 
A contract might seem scary, or too formal, or even threatening, but actually it is a great tool for bringing clarity and for remembering specifics. It outlines the project details so that everyone is on the same page. A good contract might cover the following....

  • Description of the project - This would be as specific as possible, including size, color palette, imagery, surface (paper, canvas, board), frame or no frame.
  • Deadline - Smaller pieces may take less time than larger - specific details and timing of the commission request will determine the time required for completion.
  • Pricing - My prices for commissioned work are comparable to my existing works, so by looking at other paintings in a size and medium similar to what you want, you will have an idea of what your commission will cost. 
  • Payment Terms - I require a deposit of 25% on all commissions (up to 50% on highly directed works). You have a grace period up to but not including the date I have booked to begin your commission to cancel and receive a full refund of your down payment.  After this period (once I have started your commission), the down-payment is non-refundable. If requested, sketches can be used to approve specific imagery or color schemes. Additional fees may be charged for revisions made after approval of sketches, and for revisions reflecting a new direction to the project. Final payment is due upon completion and acceptance of the work.
  • Right of Refusal - It is my intent to create artworks for my clients that they will want to purchase! However, if, after the work is completed, the collector does not wish to purchase the work, he/she may refuse. In that case, I will retain the refused artwork, the nonrefundable deposit, and revision fees, free of any claims or interests of the collector and the collector will owe no additional fees. 
As a future member of my collector family, you are going to be as involved as you like in the commissioning process. When possible, I am happy to help choose a size and a color palette, and to send images of the work in progress. In this way, you can be confident that your painting will be a perfect fit.

Kill It or Save It?

Memory of Magnolia ~ acrylic on paper ~ 20"x26"

Not quite there yet

I love all the stages of creating a new painting. I often start by laying down random color and shapes and just getting lost in the process. In those early stages, anything goes - I more or less feel my way around. There comes a point, however, when choices must be made and I can feel my brain switching over to "edit" mode....and then back again. Then sometimes I'm just stumped. 

This painting kicked around my studio for a year looking like a total failure. That's harsh - let's just say it was "unresolved." The funny thing was that I liked it at first, then - the more I looked at it the less I liked it. I stuffed it away in my flat file because it was annoying me. Mocking me, actually. 

Then one day - it was back on my painting board and I was determined to kill it or save it. Where to start? Sometimes it's just a step at a time. First step - get rid of just one thing you don't like. Slowly, everything starts to change, you respond to the changes, and now you're back in the saddle. So, today I like the piece. Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow.