As the Christmas season rolls in, I get flooded with commissions. I love it, painting lovely families and their pets is such a joy! This year I got to tackle the largest commission I’ve ever done in terms of size and with the tightest deadline I’ve had yet.
I was commissioned to paint 4 individual pet portraits, each on 16×20” canvas. And I had to finish and ship them all within 10 days. It was insane. I love how they turned out, but it was definitely a struggle to get them done. I had to have approval on the sketches before I could paint, feedback on the final paintings and make sure they were completely dry before packaging them to ship. This means the total time I actually had to paint them was just 7 days, on top of other smaller commissions and a day job. There was no time to re-think artistic decisions and precious little time for any corrections to be made so I had to do better than my best to get them all done right the first time. It was such a huge relief once I was finally able to send them out, and an even bigger relief to hear they arrived safely and on time.
The commissioner of these portraits contacted me through Etsy, asking about larger paintings done on canvas so I was excited to start from the very beginning. They were super lovely to work with as well. They knew what they wanted but left plenty of room for me to be creative, they weren’t afraid to mention if I had made a mistake and they also super quick to respond whenever I contacted them with a question or a progress shot.
It was incredibly stressful but also super enjoyable to work on these portraits. I finally got some experience painting on large canvas, which had been a goal of mine for this year that I hadn’t gotten a chance to try. I have also never shipped anything this large, so the expensive shipping cost was a crappy surprise, but live and learn. I also realize how much more paint a large canvas consumes versus small paper. I barely broke even with this commission and came very close to losing money. Something important I learned during the process was to more carefully consider materials, shipping and including a fee for rush orders. While these were financially difficult lessons to learn, I still had a very positive experience, and I think the knowledge I gained from it was worth the loss.