Custom paintings by Bernadette Sheridan – How commissions work, and FAQ

Commissions & Custom Artwork

Custom commissioned portraits and paintings by Bernadette Sheridan


How it works, in a nutshell:

  • You’d like an original, custom piece of art featuring your home, pet, or favorite subject.
  • Choose the size and purchase the listing.
  • Send me photos and details about the subject(s).
  • I’ll send you 1-3 sketches, you choose which one you’d like for your painting.
  • I’ll paint the artwork, send you a digital file, and then ship the final painting to you.
  • If you’d like, you can purchase this as a gift and I’ll send the recipient a gift certificate.


These commissions are perfect for you or a friend if:

  • You love color and you like the style of the other works in my etsy shop and gallery.
  • You are looking for a painting that is an interpretation of your favorite pet, a beautiful home, or a favorite place or person. My style is fairly consistent… the level of detail and the style of your custom painting will be consistent with my other works.
  • You like artwork that is fairly minimal, with an illustrative style and focus on composition, color and boldness.
  • You’re looking for artwork that makes you smile and gives you a great, cozy feeling. I once bought a painting at an art show in Baltimore, and I literally felt like hugging this painting. That’s the feeling I want you to have. My goal for every painting is for you to love it.


How custom commissions work, more detailed version:

  1. Feel free to send me any questions you might have while you consider purchasing a custom portrait.
  2. I typically work from photographs or inspiration… I love knowing details about the subject to add into my work, such as a pet’s favorite toy, or your favorite (or least-favorite) colors.
  3. Please keep in mind, commissions are based on the number of subjects in the painting. Please be sure to purchase the commission that matches the number of subjects you’d like in the artwork.
    1. One subject = one cat, or one dog, or one person, or one house
    2. Two subjects = two pets together, or one person with one pet, etc.
    3. Three or more subjects = choose this option if you’re looking for a family portrait, up to five subjects.
  4. When you’re ready, purchase the listing. I will contact you within 24-48 hours to discuss further details and to request photos for your commission.
  5. Once we have the details hammered out, I will create 1-3 sketches based on the images you provide, as well as any additional details you’ve requested. I’ll send you these sketches within 5-7 days.
  6. From the sketches, choose the option you’d like me to paint, and let me know any revisions or color requests. Once approved by you, I’ll start working on the final finished painting.
  7. Within the next 7-14 days, you’ll receive a photo of the painting for your final approval before I prepare it for shipping.
  8. If you’re sending this painting as a gift, just let me know. I’d be happy to gift wrap the painting and include a custom note.




FAQs about custom commissions:

How big is the final painting?

Currently, I offer two sizes:


5×5” painting on heavy watercolor paper, painted with a combination of acrylics and ink. I’ve been painting at this scale for more than 15 years, and have a large gallery of finished works that show the level of detail and composition in my paintings. You can check out the gallery of these paintings here:

This painting comes framed in a simple, modern black gallery frame that measures 10×10”. If you would prefer to receive your painting unframed, that’s no problem…  just let me know and I will refund you $25.

Extra Large:

20×20” painting on gallery wrap canvas, painted with acrylic paints.

By popular request, I have recently started painting extra large canvases with larger portraits in bold, colorful compositions. You can see some of my finished canvases here:

This painting will have painted edges and will be suitable for hanging on the wall without any framing necessary.

Can I give this as a gift?

Yes! Purchase this listing if you have your photos ready to go and would like me to start creating a custom, finished painting for you or a friend.

However, if you would prefer to give this as a gift certificate (so that your friends can choose their own subject – and provide their own photos), that’s easy… just purchase this listing:: ________________  Your friend will receive an illustrated gift certificate in the mail within 3-5 days.

What’s the overall turnaround time for a custom commission?

Based on the process outlined above, you can plan to have your finished custom painting in hand within about 3-4 weeks, from start to finish. If you’re really in a bind and need something turned around more quickly, please send me a private conversation and let me know your timeline. I will do my best to adjust the timeline to fit your needs.

But that’s still too long… I need a gift right away.

I completely understand. Why not consider purchasing a gift certificate for a commission, which I can mail within 1-2 days or even email to you if you need it super quickly.  This is a great option for last-minute birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, or holiday gifts.

How will you ship the painting?

All paintings will be shipped via USPS Priority Mail within the United States. At this time, I am only offering commissions for purchase and shipment within the United States.

Will you gift wrap the painting?

Sure! Just let me know and I’d be happy to wrap it, free of charge… I am one of those people who loves wrapping paper and ribbons! I’ll also include a personal note from you if you tell me what you’d like it to say. Just let me know!

What if I change my mind, or I don’t like your sketches?

No problem! I don’t want you to feel locked into a large purchase if you’re not happy with the sketches. You have an opportunity to cancel your order when you receive the preliminary sketch(es) from me. If you’re not happy with what I’ve come up with, just let me know and I will refund your purchase, minus a non-refundable $40 sketch fee. The sketches I provide are a close indicator of your final painting, so once you’ve approved a sketch, your commission purchase is then final and can longer be refunded.

Can I have a digital copy of the finished painting?

Absolutely! When the work is finalized and ready for shipping, I’ll email you a final jpg file that you are free to share and use for personal use (on your website, on social media, etc.)

Can I print and sell copies of the final painting?

You are welcome to use the final painting for personal use, like on your personal Christmas card, but please do not reprint the finished work for anything that you plan to sell or reproduce in large numbers. The copyright for the image will remain with the artist unless specific licensing and/or copyright transfer is granted by the artist. If you have any questions, just let me know.

Can you create items for me, like cards or ornaments, featuring the custom artwork?

Yes! Let me know at anytime if you’d like to have cards, mugs, additional prints or even phone cases printed with your finished custom artwork. We can work together on the details and come up with a plan that fits what you need. There will be some extra printing/turnaround time for these items, so just keep that in mind if timing is a concern.

Can you tell me how you came up with your pricing?

Sure. I base the prices on two factors: How much time it will take me, and how much effort and detail is required. Included in that is the time it takes me to create introductory sketches, and communicate with the client regarding details, etc. Sketches for any size usually take about the same amount of time and effort (assuming a simple subject), so the sketch fee is consistent no matter which size you choose. Once I get to the actual painting, depending on the size and the detail, I’ll be spending anywhere from 3 to 8 hours creating the actual artwork. Once that is complete and approved, I then create and deliver a digital file, plus framing and/or packaging, which also take a bit of time. In the end, commissions are a fairly large time commitment for me, and so I can only accept a few at a time, during specific times of the year. I also understand it’s a significant commitment for the client, as well, so I want to be sure they’re happy with the end results and feel as though they’ve invested in a piece of artwork that really makes them happy.

Can I see some examples of your past commissions:

Yes!! I’ve got a great collection of them here:

And you can follow my instagram to see the newest commissions as I complete them.

Where can I see specific examples of all your paintings?

My gallery website is organized by categories. Here are some quick links to the most popular ones:



Cats & Dogs:

Houses and Night Skies:

Holiday Art:

Do you have any recommendations?

I do! Here are a few:

Bernadette did a portrait of our small dog. It was a present for my wife. After asking her to do this, Bernadette showed me what she had done, having worked off of a photo. I asked for some small changes which she happily carried out and my wife was delighted with this delightful portrait that captured Roxy’s impish personality.

That picture hangs in a hallway and when my mother-in-law saw it, she wanted a similar portrait of her pet. Bernadette came through again with a painting that captured the dog’s look as well as its upbeat personality.

Both works are small and cute, rather than an over-the-fireplace type painting, which would threaten to be pretentious. They make great presents.

We were delighted with her work and would recommend her to anyone else wanting a portrait of their pet.

Mark M. on September 27, 2015

Bernadette’s work is adorable. We have received so many compliments on our commissioned paintings of our house and of our little shih-tzu Frankie. And I especially love her Christmas stuff. She is responsible, reliable and very talented.

Rebecca M.

Bernadette painted the most wonderful portrait of my dog — better than I could have hoped. He’s impossibly cute (every dog owner must say this, but I mean it) and he’s got such an expressive personality that no photo can really do him justice. Bernadette captured the sparkle in his eyes, the crazy fluffy multicolored fur, and his lovable personality, in a sweet, genuine, effortless way. His portrait hangs above his dog bed and we both admire it daily.

Sam T.