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!