Commissioned Paintings for Clients

Commissioned Paintings for Clients

The subject of commissioned paintings for clients comes up on a regular basis in discussions with students in my workshops. Most say that they don’t like doing commissions for people because some folks have unreasonable expectations, or the clients want them to paint subject matter that they don’t typically paint, or the clients have them make too many changes to the painting before accepting it.

These are all valid concerns, and I understand them completely. The other side of the coin is that it can be a great way to begin a relationship with a new client and it can be a great way to get more paintings out into the world. Th good news too, is that someone likes your work enough to ask you to make something just for them - and that is pretty great!

I believe that the more an artist is known for a certain style of painting, the more likely the client has seen the work and likes it, and wants a custom piece for their home or office. If an artist does many different types of work, the better the chance that the client may ask for something you don’t really want to do.

I have found there are several things you need to do to be successful at doing commissioned paintings:

  • Be professional. When someone sets a meeting with you, make sure you are on time. Dress appropriately. Paint stained paints and shirts are not appropriate.

  • Don’t have a temperamental artist attitude. Be kind and appreciative that someone likes your work and wants to work with you on a project.

  • Educate the client if you need to regarding sizes, colors, composition, etc. They are looking to you for guidance, so don’t be afraid to provide it to them.

  • Use a written agreement (contract) for the project. The written agreement is to outline the responsibilities of each party. You can also include language to help protect yourself from excessive changes, etc. Among other things, the contract should specify: the size, color combination, timeframe, shipping or delivery details, fee (cost), fee deposit, and number of meetings/conversations with the client.

  • Get 50% of the fee upfront. This confirms that the client is serious about pursuing the project. It also protects you if something goes sideways - you have half the fee.

  • Don’t be afraid to walk away from the project after the initial meeting with the client. If you get a bad vibe at the first meeting, it will only get worse - get out early.

There are certainly pros and cons to providing custom paintings for clients. You as the artist have to determine if it’s right for you.

If you'd like to learn about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2020 workshops HERE)

  • October 4-6 Arts and Design Society, Fort Walton Beach, FL. For more information and registration contact Hanna at Almost Sold Out! Sign up soon!

  • November 4-6 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and Registration Click Here. Sold Out!

  • November 16-17 Art of the Carolinas, Raleigh, NC-Sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama. For information and registration Click Here. My Saturday workshop is sold out, but there are still a few seats remaining in the Sunday (Nov. 17) workshop. They are going fast so sign up soon!

  • January 9-11, 2020 Arts Alliance of Lee County, Ft. Myers, FL. For information and registration Click Here.

  • January 22-24, 2020 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration, Click Here. Sold Out!

  • February 1-2, 2020 Lighthouse Art Center, Tequesta, FL. Contact Holly Gizzi:.Email:

  • February 19-21 Gadsden Art Center, Quincy, FL. Contact Anissa Ford. Email:

As always, thanks for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn more about Color and how to use it in paintings, I have a great course called All About Color available for you:

ALL ABOUT COLOR is an online course that will show you a straightforward, no nonsense, clear and easily understandable approach to using harmonious color in your paintings.

Introductory Price for a Limited Time!

Click Here to Learn More


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