In ideal situations, commissions can be very exciting to make. They have more challenges since it has to meet the customer's inner vision.

Many customers who desire a custom painting have very good artistic sensibilities. It is for this reason that they are commissioning a painting in the first place. They have looked a long time and have not found a painting that meets what is in their mind's eye.


I have told them that it is seriously possible that they are able to paint the picture themselves. I do know of two women who did take up painting after their commission.


The commissioning process is a truly cooperative work situation, where both parties are a team. First, they contact me with a general idea of their project. Early on I try to sense whether this is something I have confidence that I can fulfill. If it is not I tell them.


Next we schedule a meeting to see the place where the painting will hang. We measure and talk together about the surroundings, and they show me what is staying in the room and what is not. We talk about the use of the room, the people who live there, and what their long range plans may be for the home itself.


If there are images, or fabrics, or sentimental objects that captivate them, I encourage them to show me. I make very certain these items are closely referred to during the construction of the painting. We discuss their favorite colors and I explain to them options of the supporting palette, darkness or lightness of the painting, mood, how busy or serene they would like it to be, even the scale and layering of the objects in the picture.


As you can see, by this time, the customer has a great deal of input into the composition.


During the painting stages, I check in with them about the progress. When it seems close to completion, most often there are many options about how to resolve the painting, so I take it to the site for the owner to see it.


Every time, there is a moment of adjustment for the person while they get used to what ends up in front of them. I try not to let that make me nervous, and just give the person as much time as they need to look, ask questions, and make comments. After a little time, I can hear in their feedback how they are noticing more and more as there eyes are navigating around the painting. It would be slightly similar, I suppose, to if I was dropping off a new bunny they had ordered, and were seeing it in person the first time. Perhaps the ears are shorter, the fur more mixed color, or one ear shorter than the other, but you grow to love it in a number of minutes.


Only once did the customer not grow to love it. I redid that painting for her with her changes for no additional charge. One other time the painting was just so light in the customers brightly lit room that I had to take it home two or three times to translate it into a darker version of the same painting.


I try to not let it bother me because I feel I am pretty lucky to be able to do this at all.