Reasons To Commission A Portrait Painting

By Essie Osborn

When searching for a potential artist, two questions are usually uppermost in the mind - which artist to select and how much he or she will charge? If you have decided to commission a portrait painting, it is important to choose a skilled artist as you will probably only do this once in a lifetime. This means you will possess a true work of art that can preserve memories for generations to come.

One of the ways to determine the skill of an artist is to examine a portfolio of work already completed. Artists doing portraiture work in different mediums such as pastels, oils, water colours, oils, charcoal or even a combination of mediums. The styles of artists all vary too and you may prefer one style over another.

Through the ages, portraiture was popular and required lengthy sittings. With the advent of photography, this has changed and the long sittings are no longer necessary. Some artists still make detailed life sketches before beginning portraits. Others will arrange a single photographic sitting, styling the photographs in a particular way. Many artists use a combination of sketches and photographs.

The problem with the advent of photography, however, is that it has become easy to use a photograph as more than just a reference point. This means that the true meaning of portraiture can be lost. If a mere copy of a photograph is created, this does away with any real creativity and imagination. Many artists today still use life sketches together with photographs. Some use only photographs but these are ones they take themselves in a special session with the client. Others use both photographs and sketches.

Price is always a consideration. However, in the case of commissioning such a once in a lifetime work, other factors need to be taken into consideration besides just looking at the price tag. Skilled and experienced artists will always charge more but the work they produce is far superior to someone who just copies a photograph. Even the most skilled artists are prepared to negotiate when it comes to prices.

Various details such as the size of the work and the background chosen will also obviously influence the price. Sizes can vary from a small head only piece to a full length portrait. The background may be a simple, abstract one or a more complex scene related to the sitter. Once all the details have been settled, a contract is drawn up and signed. Part payments are usually required to cement the deal.

Before starting on the painting, the artist usually produces a small sketch. This is used to give the client some indication of what the final product will look like. Minor changes can be suggested by the client at this point. Some artists prefer that clients have no input after this point. Others like the client to be involved throughout the process.

Choosing the right artist to do a portrait can make the difference between a mere copy and a work of art. An artist with skill, training and experience knows exactly how to bring out the true essence of the individual. It is worth the expense to have a painting like this that evokes memories and can be passed down to future generations.

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