Category: Uncategorized

Commissioning a painting . . . How does that work?

Claudia's meadow, a purple, blue and pink abstract landscape by artist Kathy Ferguson
You’ve got this blank wall in your bedroom but just haven’t found the perfect artwork for this space. You love this particular artist’s work, but they don’t have anything available that fits your needs. You see that they offer commissions, and you wonder if you should consider hiring them to create a custom painting?
That’s where Claudia found herself. Though she loved my work, none of my available paintings worked for her space.  She wanted to commission an artwork but was nervous about the process. How to describe what she wanted when she wasn’t sure herself? What if she didn’t like the final painting? Would I be insulted if she asked for changes along the way? Could she afford it? Would she feel awkward asking me about my process but possibly not hiring me?
I’d love to share our journey together and answer all these questions for you too.
I charge about $2 a square inch. So a 20″ x 30″ painting is $1200. Smaller artworks are a little more, while more significant works are a little less. Local delivery is free. Shipping with insurance is extra.
How do we decide what to paint?
We start by meeting (in person or via Zoom) to view your wall space, talk about your color preferences, and the size of work you’re looking for. Next, I will have you skim through 150 other abstract works (some of mine, some by other artists) to get a sense of your art style taste. Do you like busy or calm pieces, bright or muted colors, organic or geometric shapes, etc.?
samples of colorful abstract paintings
You shared which artworks you liked, so what’s next?
I see which types of artworks you liked (and didn’t like), and we talk about the images you picked out and why. Using this information, we can narrow down the direction you want the artwork to go. In my studio, I will create two or three small paintings based on our discussion.  After you view these studies, we talk again in-depth about what you like/dislike about each option. We will agree upon the final painting composition, colors, and mood. I will take a 50% deposit to start the commission.
Three painting ideas I created based on Claudia’s initial comments:
Abstract landscape of large boulders and rocks in blue, pink, and purple
Organic Circle Idea
Organic abstract landscape of flowers in blue, pink and purple
Abstract Floral Landscape Idea
Geometric abstract with blocks of blue, purple, and green
Abstract Geometric Idea
Can I see the painting in progress?
Of course! Around 70% completion, I will send you a photo of the piece. It is early enough to make changes at this stage but still gives you an accurate idea of the final painting. Colors can be tweaked, elements added or subtracted, and more.
What happens when the painting is finished?
I will do a final check-in with you to see if you want any more changes. When satisfied, I sign and varnish the artwork, add the hanging hardware, and then deliver or ship the painting to you. The remaining balance is collected at this time.
What if I don’t like it even after all our collaboration?
It’s not a problem. First, we determine if it is something I can fix for you. If not, you have 10 days to return the painting to me. I keep the initial deposit for my work up to this point, but you are not responsible for the remaining 50% balance.
Claudia's Meadow, an abstract landscape painting in blue, purple, and pink by artist Kathy Ferguson

Claudia’s meadow, 20″ x 30″, acrylic and canvas


Do you have more questions or just want to chat? Click the contact tab at the top of the page. There is no obligation, and there will be no hurt feelings if you decide not to go forward.
If you want to see another commission example, click this link.

Collaborating with Other Artists

Sketchbook Explorations book cover by Shelley Rhodes

I recently purchased Sketchbook Explorations for Mixed-Media and Textile Artists by Shelley Rhodes, and I love it!  I recommend it to any creative who wants to try using a sketchbook to loosen up and become more spontaneous.

I enjoyed it so much that I knew I wanted to share it and start my own creative collaboration. I thought it would be fun to use sketchbooks as an opportunity to reconnect with my artist friends while exploring and experimenting with new art themes and materials.

Sketchbook collaboration of a man and a women yelling at each other in black and white by artist Kathy Ferguson
Try it for yourself. This is a sketchbook spread I made with the theme prompt Opposition/Contrast. If you were the next artist, what would you add?

Sketchbooks allow an opportunity to explore and experiment with freedom and capture ideas for future work. Though I’ve kept sketchbook books for years, I’ve filled them with more art business notes than physical sketches and painting ideas. This time I wanted to start a sketchbook that was more an illustrated diary, a visual record of ideas for more developed artwork.  However, I knew without accountability and encouragement, I would not set aside the time to do it.  This is how the collaborative sketchbook circle was born.

I asked two artist friends to join me.  We each started with three small sketchbooks (different sizes and paper types). We assigned a “theme” to each set, giving us a starting point and cohesive motif to work within. Next, we worked on a page/spread in each of our three books. Finally, at the end of two weeks, we swapped our set of sketchbooks with each other.

Sketchbook collaboration between three artists
Here’s a finished sketchbook spread. The first artist added delicate ink and watercolor drawings. The second artist collaged on paper with a bold hand-printed honeycomb design. I finished it with some glitter hexagon shapes to connect the two elements. (Beware the use of glitter in your studio…it tends to stick around!)

Each artist adds something to each sketchbook page.  When the third artist adds their marks, the page is considered finished. At that point, new pages are started. Round and round, the books will travel until all the sketchbook pages are filled. The goal is not to make finished artwork; it’s about working within a theme and responding to what the other artists have put on the page.  I am so enjoying this collaboration.

Have you worked on any creative, collaborative projects?  Can you share any advice for us newbies?

Hyper-Lapse sketch of leafy twig (1 minute long)

Time-lapse sketch using traveling sketch kit

In a previous blog post, I wrote about putting together a travel sketching kit.  Here, you can see me putting my travel kit into action.  So as not to make the video too long, I sketched the twig before the video started and compressed it into a hyper-lapse format.  Watch me use colored pencils as paint with the use of a water brush.  Click on photo to start the video.