Oil Portraits

I love painting portraits in oil, the general price is about $200 per square foot, but extra for putting extra time in for lace or other fiddley details. Then I found some ceramic blanks and jewelry frames that worked beautifully with gouache for miniature portraits. Wear your Love with your garb! Most of my portraits are of people who are reenactors who want a portrait of them in their garb, or people who want “instant ancestors” usually from the early American Naif period. I get a lot of grandparents wanting pictures of their grandchildren. The portraits go with an early American decor, but you know who’s in the painting.


What you need to think about if you want a portrait painted

While I can paint from photographs, and like using them for reference pictures (especially for clothing), the face becomes much more “alive” when I paint from life. Historically, artists would paint the face from life, but the clothing was painted while hanging on a dress dummy so the person didn’t have to stand or sit there the whole time. Because of this, a painting done from a modern snapshot where the subject is smiling will look “wrong”. Old portraits didn’t have smiling faces (although you see it sometimes in allegorical paintings). I have lots of historical paintings to help people find something that looks both authentic to the period of the garb you’ve chosen so it looks right. Styles in pose, lighting, and accessories have changed a lot over the years and that will make the painting look “right” or not.Another thing people need to realize is that if you put more than one person in the same painting, the light has to be coming from the same direction or it will look really weird! Most people end up taking fresh pictures in the post they like for the painting. Pose and lighting are SO much of why a portrait looks good or not. If you want me to paint a subject who is dead, or otherwise unavailable, I’ll work with what we’ve got and do my best. But as I had to tell one lady who wanted me to change the painting so her father looked the way he did before his stroke “I can’t paint from my own memory, much less yours.” Had she given me some pre-stroke photos, I might have been able to work those in.

So you should get some reference pictures, but plan for two or three hours of live painting to finish. If we can’t get together, I can do it all from photos, but the results are better with a live sitting.

I have done paintings from photos of dead people, and combined separate pictures into one, but not from corpses. That’s a fascinating type of painting that was popular in the 19th century- they’d prop the dead person up in bed and paint them, simply “opening the eyes” from imagination. If you see some old paintings where the head is slightly tipped to the side, that may have been someone taking their last chance to get an image of their loved one. It’s a fascinating sub-set of portraits (that soon was taken over by photographs) but that’s not really what I do.

I love painting people’s faces. You don’t have to hold still for several hours, it’s the way the muscles move while you talk and your moods change that makes a painting more than a frozen moment in time. If you hold still, you’ll probably end up looking like those royal portraits where the subject looks rather constipated. Still is good for the clothing, but not for the face. But it should be a face at rest, not laughing.

I hate to mention this, but it’s come up more than once: Please realize that you are paying for my time and ability. Just putting both people on one canvas does not make it one portrait; it’s two portraits. If you want your pet in with you, do you want a generic dog, or a portrait? I can do either, but I need to know when we’re setting the price. Also, I charge more if you want the hands more than just blocked in. I read palms, your hanColonial-Classic-Primitive-Foyers-Interior1ds are as individual as your face, so we need to know what level of detail you want.

Look at lots of portraits from the period you want, and see what was the style at the time. My aim is to help you have what you want at the end of the project. I often see myself as a craftsman working with the artist- the artist is you, the person who’s creating a thing of beauty, a room, an environment for the life you’re building. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort getting the right furniture, the right lighting, the right fabrics, and my paintings are part of that whole effect. If you want me to make the girl’s dress color match your couch, I’m happy to support the image you are creating.  Call me and we’ll see how to get what you want!

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