Portrait commissions are collaborative. My intention is to co- create an heirloom. I want to experience my subject as intimately as possible through the eyes of the people that know them. There is nothing more satisfying than feeling like I truly see someone and portray their presence with paint.
The first step in commissioning a portrait is answering a few questions.
Please fill out a Questionnaire so I can help you plan.
What are the moments you experience absolute gratitude while looking at your loved one?
Do you have images you’d like to share?
What settings are significant for your family?
What colors remind you of your family?
Are their objects that have special meaning?
Where do you want to hang the piece? ( I use blue painters tape to mock up where the piece will hang)
What is your budget?
Do you like drastic indoor light? ( John Singer Sergeant) or outdoors( Joaquin Sorolla)
The second step is we schedule a date when I can come to your house or the location we will do the portrait. Sometimes that will mean we meet in my studio in New York or Los Angeles. Even these sittings usually require an in person meeting beforehand. I rely on my intuition for the
composition. I have discovered that a casual meeting always reveals so much. For instance. I did a head and shoulders portrait of a beautiful woman in NYC. She had a pile of wallpaper samples the was going to use in the renovation of their new house where the piece would ultimately
hang. We knew the color and the style were in complete harmony with her aesthetic. We used the paper as her backdrop!
The third step is I send you a contract. I require a 10% fee to reserve the date. I take an additional 30% at our first sitting and the balance is due upon completion. All travel and framing expenses are billed to the client.
The fourth step is our first sitting. I usually plan to be there at least 48 hours. Frequently, I’ll arrive on a Friday afternoon. We will have dinner and talk. I can observe my subject/subjects casually. We will discuss where the painting will hang and take measurements. We look at clothes and discuss colors. I immediately begin coming up with ideas at this point.
The first morning we begin the work. We will spend the day taking pictures in different locations. We organize a long lunch this first day of work to check in. If children are sitting, I recommend they play, see a friend, or go for lunch with grandpa. At the end of our first day, I check in with my client to see if we are on the same page design wise. I like my client to feel really clear about what I’m thinking.
The fifth step is I send small versions of what the final painting will be. I sometimes will also send a life size charcoal sketch to hang in the actual spot. Designing a triptych or a very large canvas is interior design theater.
The size and impact is important.
Here the difference is subtle. This young man was confident and laid back.
He was also ready to jump up at any moment. What I learned from his parents was both captured him but the first sketch astounded them.