GUIDE TO COMMISSIONING AN ARTWORK

I've produced a number of commissioned pieces, from heirloom portraits to pet portraits, in both conventional and unconventional styles. Commissioning a piece is easy and prices start from as little as £95. If you are interested in commissioning a painting or drawing, please get in touch via my contact page or email me at: artist@lewismackenzie.co.uk. I enjoy working to a brief and would be happy discuss any ideas you have via phone or email.  I can give you a quote, or suggest options to suit your particular budget. I also offer payment plans on more expensive commissions, so that you can spread the cost over a number of months.

PRICING

Pricing depends on the size of the piece, the complexity of the subject matter (e.g. the number of sitters, or the intricacy of the background) and the medium in which it's rendered (oil paintings tend to cost more than charcoal drawings, for example). When you express an interest in commissioning a piece, I'll tell you about the options available, what they'll cost, and whether any payment plans are applicable (see "PAYMENT PLANS" below). Every painting is different and brings its own unique challenges, so it's impossible to give an exact guide to pricing for commissioned works; however, a rough guide is given below, based on a head-and-shoulders portrait with a simple background.

  • 16cm x 12cm
    • drawing - £95
    • monochrome painting - £145
    • full colour painting - £190
  • 24cm x 18cm
    • drawing - £175
    • monochrome painting - £320
    • full colour painting - £425
  • 40cm x 30cm
    • drawing - £450
    • monochrome painting - £900
    • full colour painting - £1200
  • 70cm x 50cm
    • drawing - £650
    • monochrome painting - £2600
    • full colour painting - £3500

These prices are a guide only, and do not take into account:

  • travelling expenses
  • particularly complex or difficult subjects
  • framing - which can be provided on request.

THE PROCESS

Once you've made the decision to commission an artwork, decided on what the work will portray, what medium it will be rendered in, how big it will be, and you've chosen a payment plan, you will receive a commissioning contract which lays out the terms of our agreement in writing. This will need to be signed and returned to me, along with a non-refundable deposit, before work on your picture will begin. The deposit is 50% on all commissions worth £500 or less, or a smaller percentage on pieces over £500, depending on the payment plan you choose when you decide how you want to pay for the work (see "PAYMENT PLANS").

When I have your commissioning contract and deposit, I will begin work on your picture. The first step is to gather reference materials.

The reference - photographs vs. life sittings

I prefer to work directly from life, with the subject matter right before my eyes; however - I recognise that it is not always convenient or practical for clients to spend many hours posing for a portrait. I therefore regularly use digital photographs as references (for pet-portraits, use of photographs is a given). I normally insist on taking reference photographs myself, as this ensures that the pictures are of a suitable quality and that I can make decisions about the pose, lighting and composition, etc. I'll usually take lots of pictures, and send you candidate images to choose from before I start the work. Of course, it's not always possible for me to obtain my own photographs, and in certain instances (e.g. in the case of a posthumous portrait) I'm happy to work from a client's own photographs. If you'd like to commission a picture based on one of your own photographs, please send me a copy and I'll let you know if it's suitable. 

Preliminary studies

Particularly in the case of more complex pieces, I may agree to produce a certain number of preliminary studies (usually no more than three) for your appraisal, so that you can decide on any changes you would like me to make to the composition, before I start work on the final piece. These preliminary works may include thumbnail sketches, colour studies, or digital mock-ups. Once you are happy with the design, I'll start work on the final piece.

How long will it take to complete your painting?

When you commission a piece of work, I'll provide you with an estimate of how long it will take to complete. The amount of time taken depends primarily on the complexity of the piece and on its size. A small head study in oil or charcoal might take only a day to finish, whereas a very large, multi-figure portrait may take many months, or even years.  I usually give a timescale of about 6 months, even for small works, as this allows for busy periods in my diary or those instances when a painting just takes a little longer than anticipated. I will keep you up to date on the progress of your piece by email, and notify you if unexpected delays to the work are likely to occur.

When your painting's complete I'll send you an email to let you know, along with hi-resolution photographs of the piece, so that you can decide on any last-minute changes you might want. If you're happy with the digital photograph, I'll deliver the artwork to you by the method agreed in your contract. All that remains then is for you to pay the remaining balance.

PAYMENT PLANS

Commissioning an artwork can be an expensive business. And so it should be - painting is difficult and  a well-made painting is a unique, hand-crafted item that will last for many lifetimes. Sadly, this leaves many people unable to bear the cost of investing in original art. In order to help get around this, I offer a range of payment options for commissions over £500 in value.

Paying in instalments allows you to spread the cost of a commission over 6 - 12 months, so that buying a work of art doesn't break the bank. Please ask about my payment plans when you enquire about commissioning a work, if you feel that paying for the work in manageable chunks may be the best option for you.