How to commission a painting – the 7 steps

So, how does one commission a painting?

Have you seen a painting you liked but would rather have it in different color scheme / size to match a certain wall in your home or office? Or, as an interior designer / decorator, you may need specific colors or motifs within the painting to work within a room you are creating. This article will help you work with an artist to create the perfect piece that will meet your expectations, and express your personality, and taste in a creative way, while matching your particular style, and enriching the comfort of your space.

Most professional artists are willing to create a custom piece of artwork for you, all you need to do is to find the one whose professional level matches your vision. Private commissions are one of the best parts of my job as an artist. I love being able to work together with a private collector, a designer or a company to produce the perfect painting for their space. A private commission involves working collaboratively with the client to create a work of art that they have been dreaming of.

For those who are considering a commission, I’ve put together a guide to show the process of our collaboration.

Here are the 7 stages I follow when working on a private art commission. Although, if you are planning to commission art as a (last minute, but still very special) gift, you can buy a Gift Certificate. To learn what kinds of certificates you can choose from, the price range, and how to get one, please contact me.


Whether it’s an online request or a conversation in person over a cup of coffee, I always have a list of questions we go through with the client before starting a commission to make sure we are on the same page. Sometimes a client will have an exact image in their mind that they want, which is great, and other times it’s only a vague idea, and yet we manage to make the commission turn out just fine. I created Custom Art Commission Query to refine and simplify the initial stage of the art commission process, have a clear understanding of piece’s subject or image, colors, size, etc. When needed, I consult the client on certain issues, such as styles, color schemes, techniques, sizes, and other commission details. Once we’ve decided on a concept and refined the details, we move on to step 2.


Upon receiving the Custom Art Commission Query in my email, I will email or send you a Custom Art Commission Contract via preferred channel of communication. During a face-to-face meeting with my client, we fill in all the fields in the printed version, and read the contract. If the terms and conditions stated in the contract meet the client’s expectations of the ownership rights, painting details, delivery date, etc, we sign it, and in virtual communication, the client emails me a digital copy of the signed contract. At the same time, the client will pay the initial 35% deposit. This is the date of Start of Work.

The client and I both sign the contract to protects our corresponding rights, and have a peace of mind about the technicalities, and timeframe of the commission. Comfort and safety are main conditions of my cooperation with the client.

Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to start painting!


Within the next 14 days after the Start of Work, I send you photos of sketches (outlines) of the painting. A studio sketch is a small (normally the size of an office paper) drawing, usually done in my sketchbook, that happens BEFORE I put paintbrush to canvas. When you approve one of the sketches, I send you a photo of the actual blocked in main colors and shapes of the painting on canvas (or whatever materials you specify) with basic colors and shapes for you to have a better idea where the painting is moving.

During this stage, I am basically creating a mini-version and rough image of what the finished piece might look like. This gives the client an idea of what they can expect for the full-sized version and lets them refine the piece as needed at this stage. If the client has any suggestions or things they want changed this is the time to do it! We can tweak, alter and improve the design until it’s perfect. Sometimes we will make just a few changes, other times the piece goes to the next stage right away.

Next up, I take close up photos of the painting and send to the client.

step by step painting of a cake with roses
This is how a typical commission is painted, from establishing color scheme and background to final details.


On approval of the blocked in colors and shapes, I will I go over all the painting smoothing the edges, refining the colors, and adding smaller details. This stage may take up to several weeks, depending on the complexity and size of the artwork, and also its deadlines. During this stage I will contact my client for further approval and discussion of some details. The client may still initiate some changes, if they do not affect the general composition and color scheme of the painting.

If you are commissioning a painting, I strongly suggest that you specify all major elements of the painting at the stage of sketch approval and blocking in main colors and shapes. This is the stage where I work away at the painting until it’s complete. I love the creativity and meditative feel of this stage, this is when I am ‘in the zone’. Focusing on a painting and seeing it from start to completion is very rewarding and inspiring.


In the case the deadline is specified, you will receive a photograph of the final variant of the artwork a few days prior to the deadline to allow time for packaging and shipping. When the final painting is complete, I will set another email/text to the client. This is also when the client delivers the second payment in the amount of 65% for their piece. Depending on where they are located, the piece will either be shipped or delivered in person. If the client wants it mounted on their wall then we will do that, although some prefer to do the hanging themselves. Sometimes we help the client frame the piece at additional cost.

I love delivering a piece and being able to talk about it with the client and give them a peak into the process I used to create the painting. This stage looks different for every client, but I love to plan it around the individual, their interests and personal preferences.

five piece commission christian symbols art painting
Putting a finished piece on the wall.


The commission is over once the painting is delivered, but the relationships with the client have often just begun. Creating a commission is such a fun, collaborative and rewarding process for both the painter and the client, that we end up becoming friends. I love to stay in touch with my clients over time, check in on how the painting is doing and chat about art and life. I am grateful that so many of my past clients have become friends of mine and I love staying in touch with all of them.


Step seven is work in seventh heaven!

The best clients are the returning ones. Once we have gone through those 6 stages of the custom art commission process, it is much easier and fun to go along the same path during the second commission. Creating a commissioned painting is incredible rewarding, fun and inspiring for me as an artist, and the client is more relaxed as they know that the photos do not make justice to the piece and it is going to be much richer visually when seen in person. I love working together with clients to create their perfect paintings and help them make their space more personalized, welcoming and stylish.

peacock eye butterfly
Detail of a large piece.



Leave a comment or find me on social media, if you have any questions about paintings, canvases, painting supplies, and art in general. I’m not selling anything, so my advice will not be affected by affiliation to any brand or store. In this post you can get a few ideas of how to improve your painting and start making quick progress. And if there is any additional information you need, I’d be happy to share, just let me know.

And, as one of the coolest painters said: “All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.”
Bob Ross