How to Commission a Painting

To commission a painting, first go to my Rates page and decide what type of painting you’d like to commission. Choose the size of your painting from the standard canvas sizes listed. (If you have a different size in mind, you can specify it in the commission form and I will get in touch with you about rate.) For pet and portrait paintings, the cost goes up for each additional figure included in the painting. For landscape paintings, the price increases if you’d like me to work from more than one photo/location or if you’d like me to paint on location. I only paint on location in Washington State, and the prices listed do not include travel costs (billed at $50 per hour, including gas).

Once you decide on the subject and size of your painting, use the Commission form on my Contact page. In the form, specify the size of your painting, the number of subjects, photos, or locations you’d like to include in your painting, and whether you need the painting completed by a specific date. If that’s the case, I need at least four weeks’ notice to complete paintings 16”x20” and smaller, and at least six weeks’ notice to complete paintings 18”x24” and above, because oil paintings take at least a week to dry. If you need a painting done before this time frame, I may be able to accommodate you, depending on my schedule, at an additional cost.

Even if you have a time frame in mind, I may need additional time to complete your painting, depending on how many commissions I’m already working on. For paintings smaller than 30”x40”, I guarantee delivery within ten weeks of receiving the photos for your commission. For paintings 30”x40” and above, I guarantee delivery within sixteen weeks of receiving the photos for your commission. If I’m unable to complete your painting within this time frame, I will let you know before I begin your commission and before you pay your deposit.

Once I verify that I can fit your commission into my schedule, I’ll ask you to send me the photo(s) you’d like me to work from to create your commission. Please see What Makes a Good Photo for a Painting? for additional information. If you have a particular photo that you’d like me to work from, you only need to e-mail me that photo, as long as it’s high resolution and high quality. Below are two examples of commissions based on a single photograph:

Photo Painting

Otherwise, please send me three or more photos of each subject that you’d like me to include in your painting. This will give me a better grasp of the subject matter, and unless otherwise specified, I’ll choose the photo(s) that I think would translate best to the canvas. For instance, in the painting below, I primarily worked from three photos (one of each cat), selected from an album of dozens of photos that my client created for me.

For landscape paintings, you can decide whether I work from a single photo or whether I combine photos, either of a single location or multiple locations, at an additional cost.

Once I confirm that the photo(s) you’ve sent to me will work for your commission and that the time frame you specify (if you need the painting delivered by a certain date) will work for my schedule, I require a 50% deposit on your painting, payable via cash, check, or Venmo (to Sarah-Olson-7). As soon as I receive your deposit, I’ll start working on your painting.

Once the painting’s complete, I’ll e-mail you to coordinate delivery. After drying for a week, you can pick it up, I can deliver it in person, or I can ship the painting to your address. In-person deliveries are only offered for the Seattle area at an additional cost of $20. Otherwise, I will package and ship your painting via UPS. Unless you need the painting by a certain time or you specify a different shipping method, I will mail the painting via ground transportation (the most affordable option). Shipping and handling are not included in the prices listed on my rates pages, and will be added to your second payment installment.

Upon delivery of your painting, I require the other half of your payment (the price listed on my rates page minus the 50% deposit), plus shipping and handling or the $20 delivery fee. I accept payment by cash, check, or Venmo (to Sarah-Olson-7).

At that point, you’ll have a beautiful, custom-made, one-of-a-kind painting ready to be framed and hung on your wall. Because many of my commissions are received via word of mouth, I’ll include several of my business cards along with your painting, which you’re welcome to pass on to family or friends who may be interested in commissioning their own work of art. Thank you for your interest and support! I look forward to working with you. Please email me at with any additional questions.

What Makes a Good Photo for a Painting?

Unless requested, I base my commissions on photo(s) that you supply. When choosing the reference photo(s) that I’ll use to create your painting, there are several important considerations.

First, if you’re commissioning a pet or portrait painting, the subject of the photo should be in focus, prominently featured, and well-lit. See the examples below:

Good Photo Bad Photo

✔ subject is well-lit
✔ subject is in focus
✔ subject fills frame

❌ subject is poorly lit
❌ subject is blurry

Good Photo Bad Photo

✔ subject is well-lit
✔ subject is in focus
✔ subject fills frame

❌ subject is obscured
❌ subject doesn’t fill frame

If you’d like me to create a painting based on a specific photograph, make sure that you’re happy with how the subject appears. I can make alterations to the background of your painting, but because I haven’t met the subject in person, it is very difficult to change the angle at which the subject is viewed, the way in which the subject is lit, the subject’s position, or the subject’s expression. While I’m usually willing to work with your vision, because I strive to capture the subject’s likeness and personality in your painting, it’s up to you to choose a photo or photos that accurately represent their appearance.

Unless you’d like me to work from a particular photo, it’s best to send me multiple photos of each subject that you’d like included in your painting. This allows me a better understanding of each subject’s form and character. After looking through your photos, I’ll then choose the image(s) that I think would best translate to the canvas. Depending on the photos you provide, I’ll either work from a single image for each subject, or I’ll combine multiple photographs of a subject to create the best composition. Ideally, all photos sent to me should be high resolution and high quality, with the subject well-lit, in focus, and filling the majority of the frame. See the two examples above to better understand the difference between a good reference photo and a bad reference photo.

If you commission a landscape painting, I follow a similar process. If you’d like me to base your commission on a single photo, you only need to send me that image, as long as it’s high quality and high resolution. If you don’t have a particular photo in mind, it’s best to send me three or more photos of each location that you’d like me to include in your painting and I’ll choose the one that would best translate to the canvas. If you have a particular vision that isn’t captured by a single photo, I can combine aspects from multiple photos to create the ideal composition and color palette (at an additional cost). While most of my landscape commissions are based on a single location, I’m also happy to create an imaginary landscape that depicts multiple locations. For instance, the example below, a commission for the headboard in an adventure van, combines elements from the Canyonlands, Mount Rainier, and Potrero Chico.

If you don’t have a photo or photos of the location(s) that you’d like me to paint, I can find my own reference image(s) for an additional $50 fee. Finally, if you’d like me to paint your location on sight, I can drive to the location and use my best judgment to create a work of art that you’ll love. I’ll spend several days painting in nature, then take my own photographs to work from to complete your painting. The cost of a painting on location is listed in the fourth column on my Landscape Painting Rates page, not including the travel time (billed at $50 per hour, including gas).

Abstract commissions are also available upon request. Contact me for rates. The image below is an example of one of my abstract commissions.

When you contact me to commission a painting, we’ll communicate via e-mail to ensure that I have the images I need to create your custom work of art. If you have any questions about this process, please contact me. I look forward to working with you!