Custom Portraits: process and time frame

The creative process is my spiritual practice.  It is my source of healing, courage, faith, and communing with something larger than myself. Creating custom commissions is has been humbling work, as I am often trusted with your most special moments and loved ones.  It is a privilege and delight to be able to apply my skills to make something special for you and your loved ones.

Below you will find my process for a custom project and what to expect when you work with me.

1. Discovery: The Photo
Some people know exactly which photo they want to use.  Some people know they want a piece by me, but are totally overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing.  In all cases, I ask for at least 3 - 5 photos to choose from.  I do this for a variety of reasons.  The first reason is that although the client might have strong personal connections to a photograph, the photograph may not necessarily be an ideal candidate to translate into a drawing or painting.  Generally when I work from several photos, at least one of them will work compositionally. 

But the real reason is that, hokey as it sounds, the picture often chooses me, not the other way around. 

Each client and her needs are unique.  Each piece is unique. Our stories are important. If you are comfortable sharing, I love to learn more about the meaning behind the photo for you, or the person it's going to. Without any conscious effort on my part, these personal details percolate whatever creative machinations inform my process.

2. The Specs and the Quote
After we choose a photo, the size of the piece and the desired medium (drawing, painting or print), I will email you with a Pricing Options list. Upon your selection, I’ll draw up and send you a Service Agreement, send you an invoice and upon receipt of your deposit, I head to work! You may click here for Service Agreement and payment policies.

3. The Work
You send me the (highest quality as you can find) digital photo we selected to work from and I tack it up next to the paper or canvas.  Occasionally I will use a tablet or screen to view the photo.  If it's canvas, I carefully select thick, raw, high quality belgian linen or cotton-linen blend, build the stretchers and stretch the canvas myself.  Sometimes I like board for oils as well. I then prime and sand the canvas, which can take several days to a week if I'm using oil ground as primer. When it comes to the real work, the drawing or color, I'm old school: no tracing or digitizing (unless the project specifically demands some design elements, but even then I design first and then work from a single image). Everything is done by eye and hand (and brain and heart and spirit and prayer and giving up and giving over and being brave and losing it a little and then gaining it back again).   

4. Review and Shipment
When the work is finished or near finished, I send you a photograph (un-retouched) of the work.  In rare cases, you might want a change here or there, but generally folks give the OK to ship.  In the rare case that you need major changes made, I charge a $75 per hour, billed upon completion.  Upon receipt of the balance due on the piece, I carefully package the art, and ship it (trackable and insured) to the address you provide.  A heads up: I sometimes have to cobble together the right elements to ship it safely, so it can look a bit like a Frankenstein box, but rest assured the work itself is safe and that's what matters.


Time Frames for Various Mediums and Sizes
Below is a general, and very rough guideline of time frame for various projects:  Please note this time frame is from the point of transaction to when a photograph of the piece is sent to you (does not include shipping time, or however much time it takes for us to pick a photograph).

  • Black and White Drawing: 1 weeks

  • Black and White Drawing with a “Pop” of Color: 1 - 2 weeks

  • Color Painting in Watercolor/Gouache (Small Format): 1-2 weeks

  • Color Painting in Watercolor/Gouache (Large Format) 2-4 weeks

  • Color Painting in Oil (Small Format): 3 - 8 weeks

  • Color Painting in Oil (Large Format): 8 - 12 weeks


Questions? You can always contact me directly.