How to commission a painting and be thrilled with the process and result

How to commission a painting and be thrilled with the process and result

February 15, 2022

I have a secret to share with you.

I once was fearful of creating commissions. Early on in my career they terrified me. I often wondered who was I to be able to create something especially for someone and their home when I had only ever been used to creating within my own safe zone of painting just for myself? 

 

 

'Te Mata Peak' Hawkes Bay, 2020
My largest commission to date measuring 1.6 x 1.25m when framed.

 

Now creating commissions fills me with an exhiliarting level of anticipation and excitement and one that I know to surrender to and wholeheartedly trust the process. I feel and understand that if I pour all of my creative energy into every artwork I create it will contain a little bit of magic, a little mystery and a sense of compassion and deep knowing. The artwork will have areas of intense movement  in the sky or water below or both, it will also have small areas of stillness often in the water or land but most importantly it will feel considered and it will feel like a moment in time captured so that now it only exists on paper.

It was a huge hurdle of my mind to overcome the fear of starting a commission and one that took many years as the commissions kept coming to finally accept if I just trusted my process and ability that everything might just turn out completely fine. It always had and it always would.

 'Everything is now, always has been and always will be ok' Jim Fortin

 

'Lake Wanaka' commission 2021

 

The block to all of it lay within my mind, not in my physical ability to paint. I never said no to a commission even though the fear lay hiding within, I intuitively knew I had to keep pushing ahead.  Years ago none of my creative thought process felt conscious and aware like it does now.  I simply painted when I felt like, faffed around in my studio and waited for inspiration to show up. Now I realise that I always carry that ability to access belief in myself and that I never need to sit and hope the fear will go away. I use emotional and wellness tools to enhance my life daily that all add up to ensuring I feel complete and from there I can create paintings that often effortlessly flow out of me.

I distinctly remember the day when I discovered the quote

'Fear is an opportunity to grow' by Jon Assaraf 

 and I felt something shift within me, it resonated so I paid attention.

I was starting to paint with watercolour on wood in my previous signature black and white style and had very little understanding of the new process. I decided that the only way was to show up and challenge myself to see what might just be possible.

From there I started to soften to my fear and see it as having potential to show me and guide me towards this thing called growth that I also knew very little about.  

Later I would learn that we grow through what we go through but back then I desperately wanted to conquer the fear and move on. Then it all clicked, to create commissions I just had to pretend, yes, pretend that I was painting them for myself, to go in my house, not for someone else and definitely not for sale!  That first time I used this concept it worked, then it worked a second time and gradually the fear became less and less and it instead turned to the thrill and thought 'What beauty can I trust myself to create?' 

That was almost seven years ago.

 

 

 

'Lake Wanaka' commission 2021 - A large watercolour on paper that was an absolute joy to create from start to finish. Each day I would wake thinking about this painting and was just so eager to get painting. On the final day I was to finish it I remember telling myself I didn't want this process to end, I was so in love with it's creation. 

 

 

Lake Hawea commission for Borage and Bee 2020

 

So today when I create commissions I'm filled with honour and pride at being able to create a special artwork for someone else in the exact same way I would create for myself.  That in itself is a huge transformation. It wasn't just my art practice that needed to evolve it was me! I needed to do the work on myself to figure out why I was so afraid of commissions. I realised that my fear was really just a doorway to expansion and that only I could open that door. I'm so pleased I did.

The process of commissioning a painting from me is one that by now I hope you understand is so much more than just requesting your very own unique painting. It is something that we both can enjoy and appreciate, from the initial briefing, to the first sketch I create of your chosen landscape or seascape to seeing snippets of it developing on social media, text or email to finally receiving it rolled in a tube or framed and you picking it up from my studio if you live close by (or I deliver it in person!)

 

 

'Front Beach, Coromandel' commission 2021

 

The power is in the process, it's not just my creativity captured on paper, it's also an inclusive combination of your vision and trust in my art.  I feel these concepts visually speak to us in the finished artwork as we both have emotionally invested so much into it.

If you imagine a landscape that is truly special to you and then trust me to create an artwork that will help you remember those feelings of inner calm and contentment I assure you that you won't be disappointed. There is so much joy to continually be experienced in the final artwork once it is up on the wall in your home as well as the process of commissioning it.

 

The beginning of the 'Lake Wanaka' commission above. So much joy in my little moments of pause and elation!

 

Layering the mountains

 

Painting the sky with kids in and out of the studio, lots of pondering and considering from standing up on a stool and a little letting thoughts out of my mind and into my notebook. It's all part of the creative process.

 

Find out more about commissioning a painting with me on my Commissions page

Or email me sophie@sophiemelville.com to get started 




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