COMMISSIONING A PORTRAIT
Every portrait is different; as different as each person who commissions one, so no two paintings follow the exact same procedure!
What is vitally important in all cases is that I get to know the sitter before we start. We always begin with an initial get together and planning session. We can then establish exactly what the sitter wants, whether it be a formal portrait or a personal commission. A portrait can be anything from a small head and shoulders to full length; a single or group portrait; a very simple background, or a particular view or interior. There are endless possibilities, and it is important for me to really understand exactly what is envisaged at the outset.
The planning is great fun and I am open to all ideas. Paintings have a way of evolving as we go along, and that is part of the enjoyment of the journey. I will show the painting as it takes shape, so the sitter can have input throughout.
I can work entirely from photographs, but sittings are a great help if they can be arranged. One, two or three sittings are generally enough, and I will use photographs in-between.
Paintings of children or animals are generally best done entirely from photographs, as keeping still and looking “engaged” can be a challenge for both! However, it is really helpful if I can meet the subject and get to know them.
I have been commissioned many times to paint posthumous portraits. In this case, as many photographs of the subject as you can find are a great help and lots of conversation about the person to be painted, so I feel I know them.
A small painting can take a couple of months, and a very large one up to a year. Consequently, prices range greatly. I charge £500 for a single conte portrait, £900 for an oil head and shoulders portrait 30 cm x 30 cm, but a group portrait painted on a large scale could be £6,000. These prices do not include the framing or travel expenses.
In any event, the whole process is most enjoyable, both for the sitter and the painter!