If commissioning a portrait is something you are thinking about, then this page might help you to get started.
As a professional portrait artist with many years of experience, I have learnt that these are the most common questions at the beginning of the portrait commission process:
Painting from life sittings or painting from photographs?
As we meet to discuss your portrait commission, this will be my first question. I prefer to paint from life sittings as I am a traditionally trained artist. Ultimately, it depends on the time you can invest in this project. There is also a slight difference in the visual style. The portraits I created from life have a more traditional or impressionistic look, whereas those from photographs look more contemporary. It is for you to decide which aesthetics you prefer.
Painting Portrait from Life
Each session last 1.5 to 2 hours. You don't have to be completely still for hours on end. I'd like you to be as natural and at ease as possible. While I paint you, we'll talk and laugh, and occasionally I'll ask you to be still for a while.
We begin with sketching. It helps me to get to know your face and mannerism while discussing the details - the dimensions and the medium of the painting and the sittings schedule. The number of these will depend on the size and detail of the picture. This commission portrait price guide will give you a good idea. By the next session, I will have everything ready to start painting, and if all goes to plan, we will have the finished portrait by the end of the last scheduled session.
Getting to know my sitters through hours of sessions spent in conversations is invaluable for painting an emotionally engaging portrait. And so far, the feedback about the experience has been very positive.
Painting Portrait from Photos
Often life sittings are not possible for various reasons. Time constraints, long distances, or coordinating schedules of the sitters for a group portrait, to name a few. That's where paintings from photos come in, and they have advantages too. With this method, I can develop the painting to a very high finish and detail, which works particularly well for portraits of children or official-style portraits. If this is a surprise gift to someone, we'll work from photos as well.
The process of painting from photos differs from that of painting from life. We will meet to discuss the portrait commission process and the best way to go about it. Ideally, I'd like to take the photographs myself, and we'd set up a date for the shooting session. If it is not possible for me to take the photos, we will browse the pictures you have, establishing the best ones for the project. After that, I'll email you the proposed ideas. In the case of a group portrait, this stage can take a few weeks of email communication and fine-tuning. Once we are all happy with the composition, I can start on the canvas. Depending on the size, you can expect a finished painting in 3 to 8 months.
How much does a portrait painting cost?
The price range depends mainly on the medium, size and finish. Please see my current price guide for details.
I paint my portraits in oils, acrylics, and tempera. My drawing portraits are usually made in pencil on paper with occasional charcoal pieces and even quick ink sketches. I use monotype printmaking to create colourful portraits in the pop art style. My gallery of past portrait commissions will give you an idea of some possibilities.
Beginning with an A4 sheet of paper and up to a wall-size canvas, everything is possible. It might help to know where you'd display the picture to determine the portrait's size. Remember to allow for the size of the frame!
I hope this portrait commission process guide is helpful. If you would like to talk in person, please get in touch!