How a Commissioned Artwork is Created

Clara Berta Working

The term commissioned artwork seems to confuse or intimidate many people. Some think it’s only for the very wealthy who have money to throw around. Others think it only applies to portraits of famous figures like presidents. However, commissioned art is very simple. It’s a piece that is custom made for you and anyone can request a commission from an artist. To help you understand the process of creating a commissioned art I’ve decided to share my recent experience creating a custom painting for a new client.

Clara Berta working in BertaArt Mixed Media Studio

First, you meet with the client to discuss what they are looking for. In my client Adam’s case, we spoke via Skype as he lives in Australia, but you can meet in person or talk over the phone. Whatever is easiest for you. Then you start with practical questions like does it need to be a particular size, do you want it on a certain material like canvas or wood and are there certain colors you do or don’t like. Does it need to be done by a certain date?

Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Whitsunday Islands, Australia (photo by ilaria)

Next, you go deeper into the meaning behind the artwork. Is it for a special occasion or a special person in their life? Do you have a photo or image to use as inspiration for the painting? In Adam’s case, his inspiration was the Whitsunday Islands where he and his wife got married. He especially wanted to capture the stunning aqua water that surrounds the island.

Streets of Blue painting by Clara Berta
Streets of Blue painting by Clara Berta was the inspiration for commissioned art

Some commissions may be the result of a client liking a particular painting that already exists, but wanting a slightly different version of it for their space. That was also the case with Adam. He liked my painting Streets of Blue which I created and sold to a designer in New York City last year. He especially liked the variations in blue tones and the textured layers.

Now that we determined that Adam wanted a 36″ x 36″ piece on wood with blues inspired by the water around the Whitsunday Islands, and multilayered like my other painting Streets of Blue, the final step was to confirm the details like price and delivery. I agreed to create the painting in 2-3 weeks, a typical time frame for a commissioned artwork. The painting would be shipped to Adam’s home at his cost. Typically, the client pays for delivery of the artwork, but sometimes it is included in the price. Then we sign a contract and the client pays 50% upfront so I can get started creating their custom art.

Clara Berta Commissioned Art blank wood panel at start of creating painting
A wood panel provides a sturdy base for the commissioned artwork

All commissions start with a blank canvas, or, in this case, a blank wood panel. I love working on wood panels since the sturdiness of the material gives me more flexibility to add more layers. It also allows me to use a sander and power tools to scrape away paint to add depth and smooth hard surfaces to add texture. I like creating textures in my artwork because I believe that art should be touched and felt, not only looked at from afar. Adding layers of paint creates a story, almost like a history as the colors of the different layers peek through the parts I have scraped and sanded away.

Clara Berta Commissioned Art wood panel first layer of gesso
The first step is adding gesso to prevent the wood panel from warping

Commission clients normally get the option to make revisions to the piece as it is being created. Revisions are important because sometimes once people see the art they realize it isn’t quite what they expected or sometimes they want to change the concept a bit. Although I spoke with Adam and confirmed what he wanted the piece to be like, I still need to check in with him at different stages of the process to make sure we are both in agreement on the direction of the painting. In his case, he could make two revisions so I created the piece in steps so he could make adjustments as needed.

Commissioned artwork Whitsunday Island layer 1 of painting by Clara Berta
The layering begins on the commissioned painting
Commissioned artwork Whitsunday Island layer 2 of painting by Clara Berta
The building of layers continues and I start to scrape away sections to reveal the paint underneath
Commissioned artwork Whitsunday Island layer 3 of painting by Clara Berta
I’m still adding more layers and removing paint to add texture and depth

And finally here is finished artwork, Whitsunday Island.

Commissioned for art collector, Whitsunday Island, mixed media on canvas by Clara Berta
Whitsunday Island, 36″ x 36″, mixed media on wood, commissioned artwork by Clara Berta

Adam was very happy with the painting and it made it safe and sound to Australia. Here is the art in his home.

Commissioned Artwork Whitsunday Island painting by Clara Berta in home of client
Whitsunday Island painting in client’s home

Anyone can commission an artist to create custom artwork. It can be for a special occasion, to fit into a specific space or simply to make an idea in your head a reality. Whatever the reason as long as you have an open and clear communication with the artist you will end up with a piece of custom art that you can enjoy for a lifetime. If you are interested in getting your own commissioned artwork you can contact me at or 818-692-0465.

Abstract Artist Clara Berta
Abstract Artist Clara Berta

Clara Berta is a passionate, award-winning abstract artist of Hungarian heritage. Her dynamic, highly textural abstract paintings have been exhibited in the United States and collected worldwide. In addition to exhibits across the US, Clara’s work has been featured in film and television including CBS’s Two Broke Girls, Bravos’ Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, Disney’s You Again, Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, ABC’s The Catch, and the indie TV film Broken Links. Her art has also been seen in LA Weekly, Singular Magazine, Culture Trip, Downtown News and other publications.

See Clara’s Art

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