Having Fun Painting a Commission: Step 1, Review the Photo

A commission painting is fun if you plan right. Small steps and good communication really help.   Rather charging right into the final painting, and wondering, “Is it good enough? What would they think if I make this little change…?”, take it in steps.  Invite the person you’re doing a commission for to join in with feedback or approval at each step.

Step 1: Review the photo and decide if it’s really something you can put your heart into. Make sure they’ve seen your past work and know what to expect.

For this commission, I’m painting a scene from a rocky outcrop in Colorado.  Being a landscape painter and outdoorsy, this is definitely something I can put my heart into! Here’s the reference photo:

This is the reference photo for the commission.
This is the reference photo for the commission.

Review of the photo: In looking at the photo, I wondered: “What’s the story behind it?”. Why was it taken?  How can I personalize this to be “her” painting? Was the rocky structure and bench and foreground trees more important, or was it the background view? She replied it was the backdrop, which I understand perfectly being a hiker and coming onto a summit or viewpoint.  The bench, being red could be either a distraction or a key part of the story here. While I like the concept, I made sure it was not an important part of the story before starting (it wasn’t). Everything about the painting will support one thing: that “Wow” moment when you see the view from the trail.

Next step: The initial drawing/sketch to look at values and composition.  (Next post)


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