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How to Commission a Painting

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Here's how to commission a painting from an artist you admire.

The painting below was commissioned by a couple who wanted a memorial of the husband's mother who had died the previous year. In her later year's they had all lived together in Sandsend and she had loved to take her Highland terrier for strolls on the beautiful beach there. The brief I was given was the painting had to be quite large, it's 76cm x 41cm unframed, had to include the crocodile shape of the headland and a figure of a white haired lady walking on the beach. A price was agreed and I started my research.

This original watercolour is of the headland at Sandsend near Whitby at sunset with a woman walking her scottie dog.
A painting commission of Sandsend near Whitby .

The clients had looked through some of my other watercolours and liked the mood and colours in a seascape I had done of a beach at sunset. So for my research I went to Sandsend at sunrise and sunset and took a multitude of photos and videos to work from.

An original watercolour of a seascape at sunset by Louise Connell
Seascape sunset by Louise Connell

Do's and Don'ts to commission a painting

1. Do give the artist as much information to work from as you can. I want my clients to be happy with the finished artwork so when people provide me with photos, descriptions, colour ideas. mood ideas it makes the process so much easier. Do they want the painting to be dramatic or feel calm.

2. Don't keep changing your mind, especially with watercolour it's very difficult to take out elements once they've been painted so make sure you are happy with the composition at the drawing stage. You want to keep the artist happy so they produce their best work for you, this is less likely if they feel like you are wasting their time or interfering in their creative process.

3. By all means ideas can evolve at the planning stage, for example when this piece was being drawn out I asked the clients if I could include the dog and sent a couple of sketches to see if it looked like him and was informed he could be a 'bit tattier'. That's the sort of feedback that's really helpful. Also I'd put a hat on the figure and was told that she never wore a hat so that was revised. When you commission a painting these details make it personal to you or your family and make you part of the creative process.

An original watercolour by Louise Connell of a Highland terrier
Highland terrier by Louise Connell

Getting updates when you commission a painting

I like to check in with clients as I get to different stages of the painting. Once I've done some preliminary pencil sketches and got an idea of the composition I'd like to go for I will do a few small colour sketches and send photos to the client to see if we are thinking along the same lines, if that's the case I will then do the drawing. When this is approved I start painting. I send the clients regular updates to make sure they continue to be happy with my progress and feel part of creating a beautiful bespoke artwork just for them.

Early stage of painting.
An original watercolour of a Highland Terrier
Highland Terrier by Louise Connell

Here's what the client said about the finished painting.

'The painting has been a great success in our home. People think I may have painted it but I put them right. My grandchildren talk about Barbara often interestingly they refer to the painting much more than her photograph.'

If you would like to commission a painting

If you are interested in commissioning a painting from me please get in touch, I also make tin fish and other sea creatures and miniature copper trowels that can be personalised.

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