Private Artwork Commission

Digital tablet with art reference photo, watercolor palette, and quick watercolor sketch on paper. How to Commission an Artwork

Give me a shout and let's talk through the necessary details.  I have worked on several private art commissions and find these projects a delight!

Have you got a certain landscape in mind?  Are you considering a location that is close to your heart?
If you are located nearby, say a couple of hours or less, we can schedule a photo shoot and discuss details together.  If there's quite a distance between us, you can start collecting photographs as a part of our planning process.

Art Reference Photos

I do need to address the need for permission to use photographs as an art reference.  If you did not take the photograph, we need to get permission from the photographer for use of their photos.  It's just the right thing to do. This procedure is important as it protects my professionalism.  If I know a specific subject you have in mind, I can search out free art reference photos available to artists online.  I have found sources for reference photos of minimal and affordable cost.

Artist Quality Materials & Attention to Detail

My own personal standard for the tools and materials used to create artwork are high.  The watercolor paper is Arches cold pressed watercolor paper in 300 lb. weight.  I will not use lighter weight 140 lb. paper because it buckles too easily when wet and cannot take the techniques I use in my work.  Fine artist quality watercolor pigments such as Windsor & Newton, Grumbacher, Daniel Smith, Holbein MaimeriBlu, and DaVinci are in my supply.  I choose only the best quality because it makes such a difference!  Original artwork is an investment.  Choices in supplies are key to the artwork's vibrancy lasting over time.  With study of pigments, I am careful to avoid pigments that do not have a reputation for being lightfast.  When I teach children, we use student grade watercolors and paper.  When I paint for a client, I use only the best so their investment is protected for many, many years to come.

I do not take it lightly that someone has contracted with me to create an artwork specifically for them.  That's such a great privilege that I am determined to make sure the entire process is a pleasure for both artist and client.  The first rough draft quick watercolor sketch and communication about the vision for the artwork is where it all begins.  Then, I create the sketch on tracing paper and add all the important details.  This drawing is transferred to the watercolor paper.  The next step in planning is the color mixes.  I analyze the photographs and make sure I've got a great selection of mixes to keep me on track when the painting is in progress.  I take notes along the way to be sure I've got it all clear.  Photographs are taken quite frequently.  Those photographs are shared in an online album with only the client having the album link.  I email the client as new photographs are added to the collection.  I make every opportunity for the client to be connected with the artwork as it makes its way to final completion.

Layer upon layer of color is built in every area of my artwork.  A wash of subtle pigment is laid down and then it must completely dry before the next step.  Or perhaps I decide to add in touches of other pigment while it's still damp.  It all takes careful decision and thought.   I plan out the base washes of color to bring out a vibrancy and richness.  The result is that the artwork has a depth not achieved otherwise.  I do not view it as color by number or filling in each space.  There's light and shadow.  There's form and perspective.  There are visible brushstrokes of watercolor pigment.  I've been painting with watercolors for nearly 30 years now.  With time, I've developed a skill and style that is all my own.  I have been asked many times how long it takes to create these artworks.  It's taken many years of practice and determination.  A single 8" x 10" watercolor artwork could take easily two weeks.  I paint when I am rested and relaxed and able to be uninterrupted for several hours. I cannot give my left over time to art.  It would show in the artwork.  My artwork has much of me invested in it as you may see by now.  I am confident that if you are pleased with my other work, you will be more than satisfied with my artwork created specifically for you.

Watercolor mixing swatches and quick sketch for commissioned artwork.

Watercolor quick sketch of Ivy Ranch by Christy Sheeler 2016

Working on art commission Ivy Ranch 2016.

© 2017 Christy Sheeler.  All Rights Reserved.

© 2017 Christy Sheeler.  All Rights Reserved.

© 2017 Christy Sheeler.  All Rights Reserved.
Ivy Ranch on the Brazos River 22' x30" 2016

© 2017 Christy Sheeler.  All Rights Reserved.
Ivy Ranch on the Brazos River 22' x30" 2016

© 2017 Christy Sheeler.  All Rights Reserved.
Ivy Ranch on the Brazos River 22' x30" 2016

Ivy Ranch on the Brazos River 2016

My Art Commission Process:

1.  Let's chat!
We'll talk together to help me understand more about the location and its sentimental connection.  

2.  Here's my quick watercolor sketch!
Once I've got photographs to work from, I'll create a loose thumbnail watercolor image of my vision for the artwork.  This is a proposal for the direction I'd like to take with the project.  This will give you an idea of the composition, the color scheme, the light and shadows.  You look over my proposed art quick sketch and give me your feedback, suggestions, and questions.

3.  Let's get a contract and a deposit on the deal!
If you are satisfied with the thumbnail sketch and would like to proceed with the art commission, I will write a contract with all the specifics for this project.  A non-refundable deposit of 50% is due before I can begin the first stages of the artwork.  The deposit is an investment in my time, labor, and art materials.  It's a firm commitment that gives me confidence to begin the creative process!

4.  Creating a custom piece of artwork for you.
Once the contract has been signed and the deposit is received, I begin the work of sketching and painting an original piece of watercolor artwork for you.  I use the finest artist grade watercolor pigments and 300 lb. Arches cold-press watercolor paper.

5.  Complete the payment and the artwork is delivered!
The final payment is due once the artwork is completed.  The artwork cannot be delivered until final payment is received.  The artwork will be delivered to shipping carrier within 5 business days after the payment is completed.  The artwork is unmatted and unframed.  The thumbnail watercolor sketch is also included with the art commission for the buyer/collector's remembrance of the process.  Shipping includes details of insurance, tracking number, and signature confirmation.  Once the shipping is arranged, I send those details to you so you can expect the arrival of your new artwork.

I must include here that the time frame from our first chat to final delivery requires 6-8 weeks for a smooth and enjoyable process.  I may be able to work out a shorter time frame but it all depends on other commitments on my calendar.

There are more details included with the custom art commission contract but this covers the basics.

If you have interest in an art commission and have questions, please contact me by email at

Sizes and prices:*

Sizes listed are the unmatted artwork dimensions.
5" x 7" .........$165.00
8" x 10"........$375.00
9" x 12"........$475.00
10" x 13"......$600.00
11" x 14"......$700.00
12" x 16"......$800.00
16" x 20"......$1200.00
19" x 25"......$1500.00
22" x 30"......$1800.00

*Shipping and insuring costs are additional and are the responsibility of the buyer.

See The Ivy Ranch on the Brazos River for an example of one of my art commission stories.
In that blog post, I describe the way I work with buyers to make it a successful process.

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