If the painting is to be a gift, decide if you'd rather present the recipient with the physical painting or with a gift certificate. Gift certificate recipients will have the option to choose their own subject(s) for the portrait.
Choose your subject
If you are choosing the subject(s), sift through your photographs of them ... candid, studio, old, new, torn, fuzzy, badly lit, etc. Also, set aside any photos you might have of our subject's favorite places, personal items, e.g. worn boots, specific books, catcher's mit, etc. which are indicative of our subject's interests. (It's common for me to incorporate elements from different photos into one portrait.)
Your consultation is free of charge. You are not obligated to commission the portrait until Step 7 below. We will consult via the CONTACT ME page on this website. If possible, attach a scan of one of your subject's photos to the form, along with your contact information and any questions or comments you may have. This will be a good starting point. We will then discuss the photo, personality and other particulars at that time. (Once I have the opportunity to see the subject, we will have a common basis for our discussions.)
Submit your photos
As you become familiar with the process, I'll ask you to select and attach at least two more images of our subject to the form, if available. (The accuracy of the subject's likeness in the painting is dependent on your photos. Having several to use as reference will make my job so much easier. I will then be able to advise you as to which elements from your photos might best represent our subject: the best image base for the portrait. Of course, the ultimate decision is yours.)
Honing the details
Once we have chosen the images which would best reflect the personality of your subject(s), we will discuss specifics about canvas size, color schemes, whether or not you'd like me to prepare a frame for it, etc. (see the "PRICING SYSTEM" section below for framing info).
After reviewing the details of our discussions, I will complete the CUSTOM PORTRAIT AGREEMENT form. This will include your price quote for the entirety of the project. The completed form will be posted on your private account page on my website. (I will email you a link which will take you directly to your account page where this form and any other postings from me regarding the project will reside. None of your personal information will be accessible by anyone visiting my website.)
Accept or decline
If you accept the details of our agreement, click the "I AGREE" button on the CUSTOM PORTRAIT AGREEMENT form. This will formalize our mutual investment in the project. A 50% downpayment will be required as I schedule a block of time to devote to your portrait. If you click the "I DECLINE" button on the AGREEMENT page, we may either renegotiate the portrait content and/or price or you may decline the proposed project altogether.
Downpayment and painting begins
Once I receive your downpayment, I will begin work in my studio. (Payments will be made by clicking the PayPal link on the AGREEMENT form.) By the way, It may seem a bit odd to have someone you haven't met in the flesh painting from your private photos over the course of two or three weeks ... at least it would seem odd to me. So, please feel free to contact me anytime during the process.
Preview work in progress
At your request, I will post a scan of a photo of the work in progress for you on my website (on your private account page). You'll be able to preview a "roughed-in" version of how the subject(s), background and any detail items will be placed in your portrait. Minor adjustments may be made at that time. (Please review my policy concerning any changes to the painting on the CUSTOM PORTRAIT AGREEMENT form.)
Painting shipped and pay balance
When the painting is complete, I will notify you and arrange for shipment (please read "Important Note" at the bottom of this page). Your portrait will be carefully packed and mailed to you along with a copy of our AGREEMENT form, which will show your paid downpayment and the balance due. Upon receipt of your painting, please honor our agreement by promptly making your final payment (using the PayPal link on my site again). When I receive the balance due, I will update the AGREEMENT FORM with your payment info, sign it and snail mail it to you. This will serve as your receipt (as well as any confirmations you may receive online through PayPal).
Our consultations are free, of course. As a rule, a custom portrait has a base price of $375 per subject on a 16" x 20" canvas or 18" x 24" canvas, with a simple background. More than one subject in the portrait (e.g., person, animal or any such complex custom image) will increase the base price by $100 per additional subject. Specific custom backgrounds, e.g., your favorite scene at the cabin, are additional as well. Larger canvases (regardless of the number of subjects) will require more time and, consequently, increase the price somewhat.
Generally, I price according to the time I spend at the easel.
Since I work at a fairly constant pace, the price usually reflects the complexity ...
the complexity is directly relevant to the time involved.
Also, you have the option of having your painting arrive complete with a modest, custom handmade frame. (I make them for all of my fine art paintings as well, treating the frames based on colors found in each particular painting.) When my clients receive their portrait only to later discover the exorbitant price of commercial frames, sometimes the painting winds up collecting dust in their closet. It's good for my business to have my work seen, so I provide the frame at a nominal fee (averaging about $8 per linear foot, depending on the extent of the treatment), which will be included in your quoted project price if you choose this option.
For your convenience, your payment transactions will be handled through PayPal. Once our CUSTOM PORTRAIT AGREEMENT is completed and formalized, your downpayment may be made simply by clicking on the PayPal link on that page, which will direct you to my account on their website. Later, when you receive your portrait in the mail, you may make your final payment using the same link.
As a rule, a single-subject painting takes me about 2 to 3 weeks to complete, then a week to build and treat the frame. (During our discussions, I'll inform you of the scheduled block of time I have committed to your portrait). Most clients prefer to have the portrait in their possession as soon as it is done, however, all oil paintings should be varnished within 6 months of completion.
In the case where the painting is mailed out before varnishing, I temporarily affix the frame (if that option was chosen) so that you may have possession of the portrait while it cures. After approximately 3 - 6 months, you should contact your local art organization to have the varnishing done locally. Best case, of course, would be for me to hang on to the painting during the curing period, varnish it and then mail it to you, but most people don't anticipate that kind of lead time when commissioning artwork. Either way, I strongly urge you to have it done. I normally use a brand named Soluvar, an excellent varnish, but any major-name varnish designed for professional oil painting will work fine.
The important thing to remember is that varnish will provide a strong, protective finish, even out the brushstrokes, preserve and enhance the color and prevent dust, smoke, hand oils and other materials from ruining the painting. In other words, a painting without varnish is like a house without siding. Protect your investment.
ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMISSIONING A PORTRAIT.