How to Commission an Abstract Oil Painting


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Alex & Meghan’s Story

One spring morning, I received an interesting email from Alex. Meghan & Alex had recently renovated their home and were interested in my work. Both liked the colors, textures and movement in my work and were wondering if I had a specific size that would fit their space. We all looked online to see what paintings were available. The paintings were either too large or too small for the space. This is when I suggested the commissioning option. It allows for a custom size, color theme, and materials within a budget that works. Commissions are also great since working together with clients brings about a new unexpected painting.

Clients are important in direction and development of the commissioned art. Plus, I have lots of fun with studio visits & zoom calls (beats talking to the painting the whole time:)

Steps to Commissioning Art:

  1. Decide on size and shape:

First Alex and Meghan had to decide on size that worked for them, so I suggested experimenting with paper. It gives a visual clue on what dimensions work in the space.

2. Pick paintings you like:

Meghan and Alex picked several paintings that they liked and I photoshopped into into the space.

Intertidal was the “Inspirational” painting they selected. Photoshopping images helps give ideas on what the painting may look like in the space.

3. Studies:

I also worked on several studies, they wanted to see Intertidal without the lines:

This small study was scaled down in proportion to the 30″x 60″ dimensions they had chosen. Both decided that they would like the lines worked back in in the large piece.

4. Building out custom frame & Stretching Canvas:

And so it began with a custom 30″x 60″ size

I love stretching these fresh duck cotton canvases, they remind me of waves

Then the first coat of gesso, sand…repeat several times till I get the perfect surface to work on.

5. Get the painting started:

In these early stages I try to capture the feel of the original inspirational “Intertidal” painting. Since the size and format are different, the commissioned work will also is changed.

December, 2020

As I keep working on the commission, it evolves in to it’s own presence, almost like a sibling of Intertidal. Similar yet different.

Studio 224, Jan 27, 2021

Along the way I find new color combinations or a different shades of color. For example, I had not thought of introducing a plumb violet in the original inspiration. Or in this version, the line work shifted, creating a different type of movement. So I see these commissioned projects as a continuum, or a part of a larger series rather than an exact copy, which makes the whole process exciting for me, and in the end more meaningful for the client. It is also important that throughout the process, from early stages to completion that the client is included. Some want to be very involved and some want to be surprised. Each one is different, and most of all it’s fun!

When, What How:

Commissions take about two months to complete. The whole process is simple, easy and fun. Depending on my exhibition schedule, I can be taking orders 8 months in advance. Currently I am taking orders for April 2021.

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For more examples on commissions please click here.