How Commissioning a Painting Works

How Commissioning a Painting Works


Are you trying to decide if commissioning a painting is the right solution for you? Though every case is different, I thought seeing how I created a recent commission would give you insight in my process.

Determine what a client wants

I use several methods to determine what a client wants when they decide to commission a painting. I start with having them review my past work and telling me which elements appeal to them. Is there a story they want to tell, or a feeling they want to convey? Then I ask about size needs, color palette, material preference, and more.

For this commission, the client wanted the painting for her bedroom in Nantucket. She liked my “wonky circles”, the botanical elements, and the texture of layering paint and collage elements that she saw in some of my other paintings. She needed a 30″ x 40″ canvas and wanted it to incorporate the ocean. Her color palette was blue, tan, cream, and orange.

Create small painting studies

I painted some sample ideas to narrow down her preferences even more. For this commission, I digitally painted some ideas on my iPad to help her decide on a direction. Here are three ideas I presented to her.


Study One – A soothing, soft painting to enhance the calmness desired in a bedroom. The painting loosely hinted at plants living both under and along the shoreline of the ocean.

Coastal shoreline artwork


Study Two – A more graphic style with the energy of the crashing waves streaming through the tide pools.

Flow water over tide pools artwork


Study Three– A more abstract image with lots of layers of collage-paper and paint. It was an underwater scene of a reef that teemed with life. The surging currents swept the elements back and forth with the tides.

Underwater coral reef artwork


Consult with client during the entire process

The client loved the direction of the first study but wanted to make some changes. She was looking for a grayer blue, a truer orange, and wanted a lot more creamy white in the painting. I checked in with the client at the 70% completed, and 95% completed stages to make sure I was on track and make any additional corrections. This included added in lots of interesting collage papers, textured rice paper, and finer botanical details.

I’m happy to report that she loved it and the final painting “Nantucket Summer” is happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.  You can see the finished  painting below.

Does a commissioned painting sound like something you’d like to explore? Why not give me a call and we can discuss your needs and see if I can help.

Kathy Ferguson's "Nantucket Summer" commissioned painting

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1 comment

Nice for information

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