How I paint a commission....

How I paint a commission....

Usually after Christmas things in the Toll studio calm down a bit, but not this year. I have been so lucky to be asked to paint more commissions this month than ever before. This is wonderful as I am always flattered by requests to paint. It is always a challenge to get the piece 'right' for the customer but it also means I have to pull my finger out .

I thought some of you may be interested to hear how I go about a 'normal' commission

Firstly someone contacts me and asks details, then I quote a price and the ball is set in motion. I need some clear photos to work from and any specific requirements customers may have. I have learnt from previous experience that it is always good to know things sooner rather than later, and as I have grown in confidence I have learnt to say 'no' when it is something I really feel I can't achieve .

Then I say I am happy to attempt commissions I don't take a deposit as I don't like to feel any more pressure than I do already, I suppose I feel that I can then go ahead and paint the piece freely and if they like it brilliant ! if not I have always learnt something and they are not out of pocket. Fortunately not many commissions are rejected. This isn't standard practice just what works for me.

So I need clear photos

and cats like these become

Or a dog like this ....

Commissions are wonderful things to do. However I have to pace myself and I like to paint a dog or cat or horse or camper van ( for that matter) when I am in the mood to paint them,.Some days are just not right days for me to paint a cat. So I will paint better when I am in the right frame of mind . I would hope the the people who ask me to paint something for them already like my style of painting , if they want a very precise detailed piece I am not the right person

Then comes the most nerve racking and exciting part, 'the reveal'. Thank goodness for email as usually  I can send an email and wait for a response. Thankfully 9 out of 10 customers are very happy and it feels wonderful to be able to paint something well for someone. The other times are steep learning curves for me and I take it on the chin I always learn something form a painting even if it is only never to try a particular subject again!!


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Thank you for sharing your process Rachel – Hope to be in touch soon. Wonderful Watercolours. Love them.

Janet Skinner

I always enjoy seeing your art because it’s fresh and alive; and you show your heart in every piece.


Winnie and Roobie! We loved our commission! I smile every time I see their portrait. Thank you!


First of all Rachel, your works are from such a high level and if anyone rejects a commission for whatever reason…they just don’t deserve your art. Keep up the good work. :)
Arie Kooman.


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