Portrait procedure

An oil painting is archival and should last for centuries. To create fine art portraiture, I work in oils on hand-woven Belgian linen and use only the highest quality materials.

I begin the process by getting to know my client and discussing ideas for the portrait. Together, we select clothing for the sitting and any props that might enhance the painting before scheduling a photography session.

Making use of advances in digital technology, I paint from my own photos taken of the subject during a one-time sitting.

Superior portraiture is founded on classical principles of light and shadow. When lighting a subject for fine art portraiture, I always ensure that the person is lit by natural, indirect, interior daylight. Flat lighting is suitable for identification cards; photographic lighting produces good photographs; and spangled lighting effects often appear in candid photography. Rarely are these same choices right for a painted portrait.

After the sitting, I send the photo on which I intend to base the portrait to my client for approval. If the background needs modification, then my client and I think together about ways to make the composition more aesthetically satisfying and personally meaningful.

Then, I begin to paint. When the portrait has taken shape, I send a photo of the work in progress to keep my client informed about the development of the painting (and invite mid-course alterations, as needed).

When the work is completed, I usually send a good photo to the client. There is a two-to-three week drying time after which an initial varnish is applied. If the client is within reasonable driving distance, then I will deliver the painting. If that is not possible, then I will have a crate made and ship the painting via FedEx, and I will follow up with a call to confirm that the painting has arrived. After one year, I will apply the final varnish, or make arrangements for it to be done locally.

My goal is to create a portrait that is a perfect physical and spiritual likeness of the subject. When done with taste and skill, fine art portraiture becomes part of one’s personal history and remains for other generations to enjoy, not only as “grandmother” or “father” but also as a work of art.