If you would like to commission a portrait, the process is quite straightforward and I have laid out the steps involved here, to help explain the process.
Having a portrait created is a very personal and unique experience, and it's important to get it right, so I aim to keep communications going throughout the whole process, with the hope that you end up with a painting that you'd envisaged from the start (or maybe even better!).
If you click the arrows under the steps listed below, I will go into each step in more detail:
Contact me about the commission that you want, and we will discuss details and come up with an agreement.
This is the part where we arrange sittings (where I will make sketches and composition ideas), or alternatively select to work from a photograph provided.
I will work from the sketches/ photographs to build up a drawn composition, underpainting and then work up in layers to the final stage.
After any additional extras such as varnishing and framing, and once you are happy with the work, the painting will be ready to collect or deliver.
Step 1: Contact Me
The first step is to contact me.
I will then check in my diary and schedule the work to be done. It's really helpful in that first contact to have an initial idea of what you want.
Things to consider are
Style of painting such as classical or contemporary
The size of the painting and the environment where it will hang
The medium used, oil, acrylic, other?
You might have some composition ideas, ideas of background, props, you may want a group or a solo portrait. Do you want a head and shoulders or full figure painting? and do you want to be seated or standing in a certain environment?
There is a lot to consider. It might also help if you've seen other artworks or photographs that you like the style of, to help explain and give reference to your decisions.
From a practical aspect, do you require sittings, or have you got existing photographs to work from?
Don't worry if you don't have all these ideas planned out! We can discuss an initial single idea and I can help expand on that through discussion and exchange of ideas.
Once we have made initial contact, a further meeting may be needed, or further discussion via e-mail/phone to come to a formal agreement, and I can give you an idea of timescale, and consider any extras such as framing, specialist materials or delivery.
If you are interested in commissioning a portrait, please use the contact form in the menu above or contact me via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. An initial meeting at mutual convenience can then be arranged if required, or details worked out via e-mail, phone or Zoom.
Step 2: Sittings/Photos
What happens at a sitting? Well it depends on what you want in the portrait and how long we have! We can choose different environments or props, work out compositions using sketches and photographs and also look at colour ideas and style. The sitting is a more practical based "working out" of the portrait, to give me some images, from life and photographs, to work from. It is also good to get to know the personality of the sitter to try and bring some of that out in the portrait. I make use of photography mainly, to reduce sitting times.
Potential travelling costs and expenses will be worked out beforehand in the artist agreement.
I can also work entirely from photographs if a sitting is not required. The photographs need to be clear and have enough detail to work from, I can take photographs in shorter sitting sessions. Things to consider are lighting (there needs to be enough of a contrast in the face to pick up the detail), the size translation (e.g a small blurry photo wouldn't work well on a huge canvas). Basically the better, higher resolution photographs you can provide, the more I will have to work from.
If using images taken by a professional photographer, I would need their permission as they would own the copyright, the same applies if using found images (on the internet), although these would mainly be used for reference. Sites like Unsplash and Pexels have royalty free images if you're looking for background or prop reference ideas. Photographs would ideally taken by yourself (or a family member) or by me.
Step 3: Painting Process
From the photographs/sketches I will work up the composition onto the canvas using grids for accuracy. Depending on the medium I will start with an underpainting, blocking in the tones and shapes.
This is followed by several "passes" over the painting where I build up colour and detail. If a background is required, this will be done beforehand.
I can provide ongoing progress photos, but be aware how they might look in early stages! (see images).
You may prefer to keep it as a surprise, but please feel free to contact me as I'm working on it, if you'd like to be updated.
A non-refundable deposit is paid before starting work/or at the first sitting. (this will be in the agreement)
Timescales may vary depending on the medium chosen. Oils have a longer drying time than acrylics or gouache for example, but often the process is sometimes quicker.
I can also varnish the painting if required. Acrylic paintings can be varnished pretty much straight away, however some oil paintings can take up to a year to dry (depending on mediums used and thickness of paint).
In this case I can use "retouching varnish" which allows the paint to still cure underneath, however be aware that varnishing can make the painting quite shiny and reflect light, so you will need to consider where it will be positioned. This can all be discussed when the painting is completed.
If you require framing, this may add to the time taken, and will add to the cost (as I don't do this myself).
This video shows the process of a large acrylic painting, which took over 72 hours.
Step 4: Delivery
I would prefer a handover of the painting as I like to be reassured that you are completely happy with the work, but can arrange delivery at various costs (extras).
I also like to post the work when finished on my social media and website, but only if you're happy for me to do so. Portraits are very personal and I respect privacy and decisions on this.
In terms of aftercare, I can arrange for a later varnishing of the painting if you require it, or you may choose to get it varnished yourself at a later date. In case of resale of the work the copyright is retained by artist (myself), unless arranged otherwise by agreement, therefore copies or prints of the work, cannot be made without my permission. Please contact me though if you have any questions on this.
I have a fair pricing ethos, which I base on my experience and the time taken to work on a piece. I believe in paying artists fairly for the work involved as otherwise it undermines the value of art, and I charge fairly for what is a very personal service and a unique "product".
I use the pricing structure and guidelines which are taken from A-N guidance:
a-n The Artists Information Company
a-n is the largest artists’ membership organisation in the UK with over 25,000 members. We support artists and those who work with them in many practical ways, acting on behalf of our membership and the visual arts sector to improve artists’ livelihoods. We have a reputation for providing compelling insights and playing a catalytic role in influencing and informing cultural policy.
Through advocacy and information and from the perspective of artists, a-n’s mission is to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society.
I calculate my prices once I know the amount of work that will be involved and an estimate of the time taken. We can discuss the pricing in the initial contact stages and we can work around any budget ideas that you have in mind.