Let's take the latest commission I just finished for a friend of mine who wanted a painting of Mt. Rainier, where he is currently stationed.
The first step is to contact me! You never know until you ask! Tracey got in touch with me about an idea for a watercolor landscape based off of a photograph he really liked depicting the mountain. He wasn't sure if I even did landscapes (I do!) and he gave me a lot of artistic freedom (which is always fun!). Usually the first few questions I ask are:
1. How big? I price based on size first
2. What medium? I work in watercolor, acrylic, graphite, and occasionally oils. This helps me narrow down what you are looking for and also helps with pricing works on canvas or paper.
3. Subject matter. This is where we go back and forth on what exactly you were thinking. Keep in mind my style and way of painting (I'll usually have you look at my work first so you get a feel for my style). If you're wanting something waaaaay outside of what I do and the way I work then odds are, you won't be satisfied with anything I do (and I'll always be upfront about whether or not I'll take it on!). Realize you are coming to me because you like my artistic point of view.
Now, if you are not sure what you are wanting and need me to help with the designing of the piece this is where I would do some sketches/mockups to give you some ideas. You could send me inspiration photos or other things that you really love and elements to go into the piece. By the time we are done, you will know exactly what your piece will look like so there are no surprises.
Once we have those things established I can quote you a price. This price takes into consideration the design process, my time, and my materials. I'll require half of the commission price as a deposit.
With my friend we established a 28"x 30" watercolor of Mt. Rainier, loosely based on a photograph but also left room for some creative liberties. He also didn't specify a deadline and gave me all the time in the world to finish (I like to have a 2-4 week turn around time, although here lately with an 8 month old I'm at around a month, depending on the size of the commission).
Then I get started! My favorite part!
My initial first wash/pass after drawing everything out (didn't get a photo of just the drawing)
The yellow at the top is my masking fluid which helps preserve my whites when I'm painting with watercolor.
My second pass is a little bit darker. Watercolor is all about building up to those layers.
Darkening the mountain even more!
Getting the trees in place as well as starting on the reflection
More work on values. LAYERS people!
The trees are just about finished and I'm making the mountain even darker and starting it's reflection as well. It's really starting to come together!
Took the masking fluid off and worked on the snow, then removed the border tape (ahhhh those crisp, clean edges!!!). Once the tape is removed I usually consider a painting done and I sign the piece.
Stared at it a while (ok A LOT) on my easel then thought it could use a little bit more COLOR to break up all the green and brown. Which left me with this:
And there you have it! I shipped this one all the way to Washington state. I love seeing my work go out into the world! I ship all over the place (including one that made it to Australia!).
Hope you enjoyed a little behind the scenes taste of what it's like to commission a custom piece of original art that you will cherish for years! It makes me excited when people are truly happy with a painting (and I love seeing photos of it hanging in homes).
Thanks so much to Tracey for this piece! I had a great time painting it, makes me want to see the mountain in person.