Negotiations for paintings


I’ve recently been commissioned to do a large family portrait for a friend of a friend, but I’m concerned about what they want to pay for it? They also sent me a great many photos in different conditions with lots of different groups of people on them. The problem is I can’t make a coherent image or composition using them.

I replied ‘That’s twelve portraits for £50?, it would have to be a small painting or a watercolour. Please can you choose the best photos that I can work from. I will do it but it will take a while. Possibly a couple of hours per portrait which works out at a cost of £4 per portrait or £2 per hour. I would normally charge £50 (normally £60) for one portrait, but I understand you might not be able to afford any more and I don’t want to ask too much. I want to do a good job for you and as you have already got a couple of my paintings I will consider only asking for a small amount for the painting. But please can you choose the twelve images you prefer as then I won’t get it wrong. “

I want to paint for people, but I don’t think they realise the work that goes into things. I would Never overcharge, but on the other hand I’d like to be paid at least the minimum wage for it!

How would you respond? Should I have questioned the request or refused it?

Note * I’m now just doing a very small painting, but I do wish people understood how hard it is to paint something like this, it’s not a snap!

17 thoughts on “Negotiations for paintings

      1. Thanks Christine , very helpful. I have been doing online art lessons at my leisure. The tutor lives in my Brisbane the same city where I am. Nov 14th & 15th is presenting Live Virtual Art Lessons , will also open his studio for people near by. The problem is he located on the other side of the city which is about a 90minute drive from me. I don’t drive anymore and rely on public transport. I am not tech savvy and wouldn’t know how to use Zoom. I could get over there using 🚍🚉🚍, stay at a budget motel, but would still to get to the studio. I really want to do this, it would be like a mini holiday and the art workshop


      2. Christine my message took off before I had finished writing. I really want to attend the weekend Art Lessons. I have got 3 weeks to decide Zoom or in person.🙂


      3. Thanks Christine that might be a less stressful, and a more economical weekend. But going in person gets me out of the four walls, gives me face to face help, plus socialising with others.


  1. It’s so hard. I recently had a friend/customer pay $185 for a painting I asked $50 for because she’s my friend, the painting is small and I didn’t value it very highly. I recently got $50 for a pencil drawing. I have sent it to the customer but I don’t know if she likes it or not. I haven’t heard.


  2. I don’t think I could do that request. Could you ask if they will pay you something to draw up a plan? If they don’t like the plan you’re off the hook and get paid for some time without having to stop doing what you want to do to work on a big project. It seems like your friend is taking advantage of you. Would it be easier to do a digital collage of the photos?


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