Portrait Commissions, Part One -- Why?

The oil painting of the Flying Fortress is taking longer than I thought, because the drying process is taking longer.  So, in the meantime, I am working on some quick, small sketches.  

  Boy, is it hard to do a portrait without eyes!  

 Boy, is it hard to do a portrait without eyes!  

I am starting a "How To" series on commissioning portraits.  This applies mostly to me, but some of it may apply to any artist.  All artists have different processes, different personalities, different values, different styles.  Commissioning a custom work of art is very exciting for the client and the artist.  Most artists love what they do and it is exciting to have someone else love what they do and want to take it into their home.  For the client, it is exciting to have a work of art that is their very own, perhaps of themselves or a loved one.  There is nothing like a hand created work of art which reflects the style and heart of the artist.  There is a saying, "You can see the hand of the artist."  Every artist, unless they are really trying to make their art an exact replica of someone else's, has their own style or "hand".  They may be similar, but there is always something distinctive about each individual artist.  Photographs are wonderful and can also reflect the hand of the artist, but we all know there is nothing like a drawing or painting...

 This one was done from an anonymous black and white photo from a royalty-free site just for my portfolio.

This one was done from an anonymous black and white photo from a royalty-free site just for my portfolio.

So, what is a portrait commission?  Basically it is when someone asks an artist to make a portrait for them and they agree to a contract specifying what each will receive from the other and when.  It is a very simple process and can lead to wonderfulness and satisfaction for all parties.  I like wonderfulness...  Satisfaction is pretty good, too...  The word "contract" can scare some people, sort of like the word "budget", but like a budget, a contract is a thing that makes boundaries which protect and guide.  It is so much easier to do things when you know what to do and what to expect.  With a budget, if you know what you have you can avoid problems.  With a commission contract, if you know what is going to happen and what you need to do to make it happen, things go much more smoothly.  I have had nothing but good experiences thus far in my very short career.  I believe my clients can say the same.

When you see something that you like, you should try to become as knowledgeable about the artist and their work as you can.  Check out their website and social media.  Look at all of their work and decide if that is what you are wanting for the particular project that you are dreaming about. 

 This one was a surprise for her.  She loved it!

This one was a surprise for her.  She loved it!

Art commissions are not always portraits.  Sometimes people like the style of an artist and want a piece that the artist has not created, yet.  So, they will contact the artist and tell them their idea and ask if they can make an artwork from that idea.  I know of an artist who does abstracts and the only information he gets from his clients are what colors they want, what size they want, and where it will be hung and when the work is finished, the client has a nice surprise for himself.  My personal favorite is surprise commissions for loved ones, although I can't post them until after they have been presented to the recipient.  There is something overwhelming about seeing a portrait drawing or painting for the first time and many times it brings tears of joy.  It is very rewarding for me, as an artist, to be able to do that for people.

If you have any questions or comments about this, please ask in the comment section, below.  If you have had a portrait made by me, please comment about your experience with it, if you don't mind.  Thanks!