Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to know before ordering a commissioned portrait?

Who will be the subject of your portrait? Where will the portrait be installed – an office, lobby, living room, or bedroom? Does it fill a personal, formal, casual, or whimsical need? Answers to these questions will help you determine the medium, the composition, and the setting. What medium you prefer? The medium can impact the purpose, style, and budget of your project. Oil is the most versatile medium affecting style and purpose, though it is usually the most expensive. Pastels, charcoals, and pencil drawings are priced lower, but they are generally less formal, so they tend not to be used for corporate or institutional purposes. What is the budget for the project? Don’t forget the possibility of added costs such as a frame, and shipping.

How does the process work?

From initial consultation to delivery, the portrait painting process generally takes between a few weeks to a few months, but varies depending on the medium selected and the complexity of the project. Here is a brief outline of the typical process:

The first thing to consider before committing to a portrait is that you are commissioning me for my artistic interpretation of the subject. A portrait drawn or painted is unique and quite different from a photograph, and therefore requires a different level of appreciation since not all photos make suitable drawn or painted portraits. My aim is to capture the essence of the individual or subject as I see/feel it. I look for a flow and balance of elements and how they relate to the completeness of the composition. Prior to starting the painting, we will discuss the details of the project, including the overall tone of the portrait, the size, and eventual location where it will be hung. Together we will decide on the best composition for the portrait. I will communicate with you frequently throughout the process to keep you apprised of the progress.

What type of reference images should I provide?

I accept most common image file types, including .jpeg, .png, and .tiff. It’s best to email me a high-resolution image so I can include all the intricate details and colors. Generally, a digital photo or scanned photo of resolution at 300dpi (or greater) will be acceptable.

The key thing is that the photo is a true and exact portrayal of the subject that you feel looks good in that photo. If you feel the person or object doesn’t look right in the photo then they will not look right in the painting. The more information you give me, the better the painting will look. If you want a colour portrait from a photograph that is black and white, I ask that you provide secondary colour photos so I can get the skin tone and other details correct. If no colour photos are available for reference, please provide as much detail about the intended colours as possible.

What if the person to be painted is not available?

Many times a person is not available, such as when planning a  memorial portrait, or when the painting is to be a surprise.  I will gladly work with your available photographs. You should provide as many photos as you can and together we will choose the best one for the pose and expression and use the others for reference to hair, eyes,  skintones, clothes, jewelry, eyeglasses and general understanding of the likeness and personality. These photos should be as clear,  sharp and large as possible. However, in the case of someone who has passed away, I realize you may not have ideal photos to work with.   At such times I will ask for your feedback to adjust the painting as necessary in order to produce the best possible portrait from the  material available.

How long do portraits normally take?

If you are considering ordering a portrait for a special occasion (birthday, holiday, or other gift), please keep in mind that creating a custom portrait takes time. Depending on the complexity, you should allow a few days for pencil, and a few weeks to a few months for your pastel or oil portrait to be completed.

To secure a spot on my schedule for a special occasion, please contact me. A 50% deposit is required to hold your spot, and is applied to the balance of your piece. Deposits are non-refundable once I’ve started work on your portrait.

How does payment work?

While I do maintain specific pricing guidelines for commissioned work, it is only after some initial discussion that we can arrive at an agreeable price together – one that considers both the complexity of the project, as well as your budget. Pricing tiers are based on lowest to highest price: pencil, charcoal, pastel, and then oil. If you’re unsure which medium is most appropriate, I will be happy to discuss your options.

In keeping with standard portrait practices, a deposit of 50% is required when confirmation is made to begin work relating to the portrait. You will pay the remaining balance when your painting is completed and you have given me your approval to ship it. The initial deposit will secure a place on my calendar. I will stay in regular contact with you as we move along.

Please keep in mind deposits on commissions are non-refundable. While you are under no obligation to accept the portrait, and pay the remaining balance, I will make every reasonable effort to create a work that satisfies you completely. I accept Paypal and bank e-transfers if you’re paying online. If you’re coming down to the studio, you can pay with cash, cheque, or credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express in person. When paying by cheque, keep in mind work won’t begin on the portrait until the cheque clears in the bank. This normally takes a week to 10 days.

What about a frame?

For two-dimensional works, the frame is the second most significant expense you will have. Custom framing is available through my studio. While I offer a discount on framing your portrait you are under no obligation to frame it through me. I’ve been a professional picture framer for 30 years (almost as long as I’ve been doing portraits) and I am happy to assist you with this decision.

How do you package and ship your artwork?

I prefer to package and ship my artwork flat to maintain the integrity of the piece. Works on paper are packed a little differently than works on canvas, but my process ensures that your painting or drawing will not get compromised during transit. I usually ship either by FedEx ground or Canada Post – which ever one offers the best price and service for the item being shipped. I ship worldwide to any country these services deliver to. I always insure my packages, but possible import duty and taxes in your country are your own responsibility. Every country has its own rules, and it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these to avoid any surprises.