Annelea Blignaut

You commissioned a painting, now what?

You commissioned a painting, now what?

Commissioning an art work is so much more than just a painting – it captures a memory and tells a story that can be treasured for years to come by you and your family.

It is the beginning of a fun and collaborative experience between you and me.  If you haven’t commissioned a work by me before, you might wonder how it works.

So, here is my four-step process to explain how it works.

Step 1 – getting to know you and choosing the right photo

During our first meeting (either in person or over zoom) we will chat so that I can get to know you and your interests.  If the portrait is not of yourself, we will also chat about the person you want me to paint.  This is important to me as my aim is not to just paint a replica of the photo but to capture the personality of the person through my painting. I will obviously aim for likeness, but I use colour abstraction to evoke emotion and character in the painting and therefor do not paint realistic paintings.  I only work in acrylic, pencil and charcoal for commissions.   We will then choose the photo to be used as reference and discuss the concept and size of the painting.

If you have not yet uploaded a few photos (3-5) on my website, then we will have another short meeting to choose the reference photo after you have done so.  (please see the suggestions for choosing a photo at the end of this blog)

Step 2 – Quote and contract

I’ll provide you with a quote and the timescale for the painting.  I will also provide you with a commission contract.  On acceptance and signing of the contract, you will receive an invoice for the deposit.  Once payment has been received I will start with the painting.

Step 3 – Art in progress

I will prepare the canvas and do a rough sketch or under painting and present you with an image for final approval.

From here you have two different options:

Option 1: Midway through the painting I will present you with images that will provide you with the opportunity to make comments, address concerns, and any final changes. On completion of the portrait, I will present you with final images.

Option 2: The “BIG reveal” I will only present you with images on completion of the portrait.

In both options, if on receiving the final images you want me to make slight tweaks/small changes, it can be accommodated.

On completion you have the right of refusal.  In the event that you do not wish to purchase the commissioned artwork, I will retain the refused artwork and the non-refundable deposit. This is free of any claims or interests, and you will not owe any additional fees to me.

Step 4 – closing the project

Once you are happy with the painting, I will send you my final invoice. The balance of the payment is payable before shipping.  I would also be very appreciative of a testimonial and a couple of photos of the painting hanging in place or with the person that was captured.

I will always retain the copyright to all works commissioned, including all reproduction rights and the right to claim statutory copyright. No artwork may be reproduced or altered without my written consent.

Finally, some tips on choosing or taking photos for your commission.

Photo Credit: Ian Thompson

Create photos with shading and depth, or in short, a good variety of values. Do not use a flash. Shading and shadows are what makes things look 3-dimensional and real. So put your model next to a window and let the light fall from the side. Avoid glaring sunlight as the shadows will be too strong or totally absent.  These two photos are very good examples of great light and shadow.  The detail in the shadow side is still visible.

Photo credit: Behrouz Sasani on Unsplash

Check the lighting of your reference. Avoid overexposed images with colors washed out, or under-exposed where darks appear all black. Pay attention to the lightest and darkest areas, can you still see details there? Also, the color of lighting is important. A photo taken in natural daylight is best.  It is also important to make sure that there are no strange shadows cast on the face.




This photo is overexposed and the features of the child almost disappeared.  It was also a very small cell phone photo.  This is a challenging photo.

Check the focus and resolution of your reference. Blurry areas can be hard to make sense of when drawing or painting. Choose a photo that shows more than the level of details you want to achieve.



You can upload photos of up to 8MB on my website. The bigger the file size the better it is for me to use.  I love to be able to zoom into some areas, especially the eyes to make sure that I capture the essence of the person. Lately you can take great photos with your phone.  Make sure that it is set to capture the image at full size and not to save space.

It is always good to send a few photos of the person you would like me to paint.

I can only take a limited number of commissions per year. If you would like to capture a memory for generations to come, then head on over to my custom painting page here  and let’s connect.  I’d be delighted to work with you.

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