A Story About a Painting Commission

Rachel Brask Artworks

“Beat of My Heart” oil on canvas, commissioned painting by Rachel Brask

Let me tell you a story. This story began with a daughter calling me, wanting to commission me to create a painting for her mother’s birthday. What the process began, though, was so much more than just that.

Once upon a time, this daughter’s mother lost a child, that daughter lost a sister-to-be. The mother had a sister who had a dream of this child appearing in a field of flowers, smiling and full of light, holding up a flower to tell her mother that everything is alright. There is joy. There is light. There is peace.

I worked with this daughter to illustrate elements of the dream that her aunt had described to her, from verbal descriptions, to photos pieced together of the scenes where she remembered the dream had taken place. When I initially took on this commission, I wasn’t entirely sure of if I could do it. Would I be able to express the vision in paint that she had seen in her dream?

Painting this commission was a hugely emotional process for me, as I painstakingly weighed each brushstroke, each line, each color. Will this be it? I strove for perfection in the painting. Even a few times my eyes’ misty vision blurred the colors together, as tears gathered, I contemplated what this mother had been through, what this could mean for her to see. I wanted everything to be just right.

Over the course of weeks of painting sketches, then painting over and over until I felt that I finally got it right, it finally came time to ship it to its recipient. I was eager to find out what their reaction would be to the painting, what the mother’s reaction would be to her daughter’s thoughtful gift. This painting wasn’t just “another job” for me, it was a personally invested labor of love.

When others ask me why I accept commissioned paintings, an easy way to put it, for some, could be, “It’s nice to get paid to do something you love doing.” But it’s so much more than that – when I’m able to paint a personally commissioned painting for someone, it becomes a personal partnership of their desire and vision with my passion and palette realized on canvas. I considered it a tremendous honor to do this commission.

I was pleased when I heard back from the family that they were pleased with the painting. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that now their lives and mine had been impacted by the product of this project.

This commission, as with all commissions, just started with a conversation. That conversation grew into a broader story, and that story grew into a lot of integrated and finite details that became that personal story illustrated on canvas.

Have you considered commissioning a painting as a gift for someone you love? Let’s start the conversation.

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One thought on “A Story About a Painting Commission

  1. I am the mother spoken of in this commissioned painting. I am not a woman of few words but I was that day when my earthly children presented me with this rendition of my 7th child (who is in heaven). My youngest daughter said, “this present was from the one who couldn’t be here.” I couldn’t fathom what she meant until I saw the picture of the dream and I knew it was my Mara…Mara Machree- Mary the beat of my heart. Thats what I named her in my heart. Thank you Rachel. I have the canvas hanging in our side living room and I “see” her all the time.

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