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Painting Commissions: Moments and Memories

When I was a child I wanted to be an architect. I understood early on how built space shapes our human experience. I channel this love of architecture into my work painting commissions for collectors who desire to bring those experiences into their home. We all have specific places (outdoors, indoors, public, private…) that hold an important memory for us.

Recently, Worship Leader magazine featured one of my architecture paintings on the cover.


Cover of Worship Leader Magazine July/August 2016

I created this particular painting as a commission for St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts as a fun fundraiser. We created notecards and prints from the painting as momento for the congregation to purchase and raise money for the parish. You can read more about that project in process here and the finished commission here . Here are some reasons I love working on commissions for you, my collectors:

Painting Commissions are an Artistic Challenge

I enjoy working on commissions as an artistic challenge. Representing a specific space is an excellent exercise in observational drawing and painting.

In the architectural interior paintings I create for exhibitions, I often simplify, abstract, or modify shapes, forms and colors according to the mood and emotional quality I am trying to achieve. Although originating in observation, the paintings have a sense of universality. People will often ask me “What church is that?” And I tell them where the inspiration originated, but I quickly add, “But you would never know that if you went and visited!”

In contrast, when working on a commission I have to answer to the the people who have experienced that space and ensure that they feel present in that space when they view my painting. I have to sight and measure relationships and proportions extremely carefully in order to be sure that my viewers can instantly know that this is their space. I like to think I am creating portraits of the places which make up someone’s important memories.


“Chicago Skyline” watercolor on Paper, 30″ x 12″ Wedding Gift © Michelle Arnold Paine 2015

Commissions Builds Relationships

I am so thrilled when I can make a personal connection with my art, and bring to life a memory. I love finding out about people’s lives from the process of creating a painting for them. Through working with their photos I am able to travel all over the world and rejoice with them at the milestones in their lives. On the side of the collector, developing a relationship with a professional artist is a joy and discovery that can also become a life-long friendship.


Anniversary Commission, Saint Philomena Church, Watercolor on Paper ©Michelle Arnold Paine

Commissioned Paintings have Lasting Impact

There is always something special about something hand-made, hand-painted, hand-drawn. An artist interprets the space in a unique way. In addition, a commissioned painting has a value as a work of art that can endure for the next generation and the following. Find out more about commissioning a painting from me here. We can work together to find you the “wow” gift for that next big occasion!