Commissioning a portrait is usually a new experience for my customers and can often feel like a bit of a leap in the unknown! To help, here’s a quick summary of the process of commissioning a portrait:
Get in touch with any questions, or if you need a quote. If you decide to go ahead, we’ll then have a chat by phone or email about exactly how you want your portrait to appear in terms of size, style, background and so on. Have a look through the gallery and let me know if any particular portraits are in a style that you prefer. The following pages will give you more detail about all the different options – follow the links at the bottom of the page.
Take some photos to give me a rounded image of the subject, and so that we can choose one key image amongst them for me to work from. I’ll need a picture taken on a digital camera (not a phone camera) that’s nice and close up and clear. You can read lots of information about suitable photographs by following the links below. When you have some you think may be suitable email them over and we can have a discussion about which might work best. Sometimes it can take quite a number of conversations or emails to sort out the photograph but please don’t worry – it’s all part of the process and well worth the effort! When we’ve decided which key photo I’ll be copying from, I’ll begin the portrait. Depending on the commission, a deposit is not normally required in advance until you’ve seen and approved the final artwork.
When I feel that the portrait might be finished I’ll make a scan of it and email this over for you to have a look. At this point you can let me know how you find the likeness, and if there’s anything you’d like me to alter. I’ll make any adjustments (and send you more scans to check) and when you’re completely happy you can make the payment and I’ll send your portrait straight out to you.
More about how I work
I don’t tend to send ‘progress’ pictures at an early stage because I work very much in a layered way: blocking out areas of tone, erasing into them, and then refining them further until the image finally comes together at the end. Until then it doesn’t always appear too promising and I don’t want to worry my customers before I’ve reached a stage that I’m fairly happy with! However I’m always available for a chat if you want to check in with me and hear how it’s going especially if you have a deadline. I’ll keep in regular contact with you if this is the case.
When I feel I have arrived at a point where I’m fairly happy with the portrait I’ll send you a scan and we can talk about anything you’d like me to alter. Portraits – particularly portraits drawn or painted from photos where I don’t actually meet the subject – are a very collaborative process and I’m more than happy to make adjustments in the final stages so don’t be concerned that you’re ‘nit-picking’! It could be anything from lightening the tone of someone’s hair or shadows under eyes, or even just an untidy stray hair.
Here you can see an earlier stage of a dog portrait. I’ve blocked in areas of tone, smoothed them, added darker tones and worked back in with an electric eraser. He’s not looking his best yet! The second image is the final portrait where you can see I have lightened and smoothed again, and added finer detail.
Once you’ve approved your portrait I’ll send over an invoice. You can find full payment details on the prices page. For delivery, if you’re in the UK I usually use Royal Mail’s Next Day Special Delivery courier service, which I have always found completely reliable. This is a fully tracked and signed for service so I will let you know your tracking number and when to expect delivery (before mailing I will check with you which is a good day to receive your portrait) Large portraits and international orders are sent via UPS.
Pencil and watercolour portraits are first be sprayed with fixative spray to stop the graphite from rubbing onto your fingers when you handle them. They are then placed in acid-free cellophane sleeves and sandwiched between rigid custom-cut MDF boards to ensure that they can’t be bent in transit. Oil paintings are sandwiched in soft foamcore board and then a layer of MDF. Finally all portraits are double wrapped in tough, waterproof polythene. Your portrait will be fully insured in the mail and I guarantee its safe arrival.