"Elequent" on the wall. My latest Project working on this three panel commission. © Elizabeth Chapman

"Elequent" on the wall. My latest Project working on this three panel commission. © Elizabeth Chapman


Working a Commission

Take a moment and read below how the process goes for a commissioned painting. Then reach out on this contact me form and tell me a little bit about what you are looking for. Size, colors and area in your home.

Name *


My favorite part about working a commission is that the painting becomes a work of art between two people. I like to think as the person who is commissioning the painting as the artist as well. So, there are two of us working on creating an original abstract painting. 

As an artist there are so many different ways to approach working on a commissioned painting. If you have never done this I would suggest checking out how various other artist handle this.

Here, I'm going to take you through the steps that I have learned. The above shown painting was unique in that it was local whereas most of the time I have worked with commissions online. The difference being that I was able to hang the painting up and get a feel for it in it's new home before deciding on the final adjustments. This can't not be done when working over long distances with shipping.


Step One:

  • The first step is of course being contacted then, input, input, input. At this point there is no commitment betweens parties. This is a good time to send photos, ask questions, inquire about size, time frame, styles, color palette, etc., Some clients may have very specific ideas and know exactly what they want, others may need a little more direction, some may give you a color palette or it could be re-creating a painting with a similar feel and then there have been those who might just give you a size and say something like " I love your work" just paint what ever you want! Each commission will be so very unique in how it's approached. It is so important to spend time, as long it takes nailing down ideas, size of painting, color palette, etc.

Step Two

  • Next will follow giving a client a quote and a time frame. Over the years I have learned that the best way for me to price my paintings is by size, keeping it consistent. To figure the price of a quote I will simply take the price I would ask for that painting and add one fourth (25%) of it's price as a commission fee.

Commission Fee and Time Frame

  • SO what is a commission fee? The commission fee covers many hidden expenses like specially ordered or custom sized canvases, time spent working together, time taken away from other work, adjustments that need to be made or could even mean a total re-paint.

  • Time Frame. This is one question that is always asked. I am a fast painter and once I've been commissioned to a work I like to get it done and off of my plate asap. There is much to take into consideration. Are there other paintings that are needing to get done before you start? Is there going to need to be a custom order canvas made? Size you will be working on, etc, I'm comfortable with saying that it will take at least 4-6 weeks, but most usually get done way before this time frame.

Correct Size

  • Getting the correct size is especially important when working on line. It's a good idea to have a template made with paper, cardboard or tape making sure that you get the exact canvas size desired for the space the client is going to hang the painting. This way you can know if the proportions are going to be correct for the size of the sofa, bed, mantle, etc.,

Non Refundable Down Payment

  • Once we've nailed down the ideas, size and the asking price for the painting it's time to begin, but not before asking for a non-refundable downpayment. How much should you ask? Many artist go with 50%. I have always asked for 25% with final payment due upon approval of the painting. This can help to cover expenses in the event the commission is canceled.

Getting it Done

  • Most of the time I work on line depending on good communication and good pics. It is very important to make sure and take good photographs that represent the painting as close to the real thing as possible.

  • The last step is to send an image for approval and then the payment for the remainder of the balance before shipping.

  • Then, time to ship!

Happy client, happy artist! ...elizabeth