For hundreds of years portraiture has been used as a recorded image of our existence to pass down through the generations. Photography is an interesting two dimensional medium, which records a momentary snap shot of the sitter.
A portrait from life, or from a series of sketches, may not produce a photographic likeness. However, a painterly interpretation combined with the painter's observation of a sitter's character, arguably produces a much more interesting record, which is proven to last for generations.
A head and shoulders portrait can take approx. three months to complete from booking to framing. However, it entirely depends on the artist in question's schedule. We have been known to turn round a painting in two weeks for a surprise birthday. Some artists are happy to work from photographs but unless the commission involves a posthumous portrait, the artist would have to take his/her own photographs.
Expect to pay upwards of £950 for a head and shoulders in oil on canvas. Half and three quarter length portraits range from £1,900 to £36,000, with full length costing anything between £4,000 and £55,000.
Interesting alternatives are Watercolour and Charcoal. These media are generally more affordable and the general rule of thumb is that it is better to commission a charcoal by an established portrait painter than an oil by a lesser practiced artist.
Our commissioning process starts with a consultation here in our Bury Street gallery. For those of you with time constraints, we are happy to meet in your home, or office.
- What medium's right for you?
- Firstly, what look are you trying to achieve?
- Is this picture to hang with predecessors, ancestors, or the like?
- Do you have a budget in mind?
- Where is this picture going to hang?
- How much space do you have?
- Sometimes an artist whose style you admire may not be suited to painting under life size.
All these questions and more can be answered when you visit our commissioning gallery.
Avoiding common commissioning pitfalls
Is this painting for a particular date? A surprise?
Don't be tempted to choose an artist just because he/she can get the project completed in time. Always trust your instinct, if you don't find an artist whose style you really like don't embark on the project.
Have you seen enough of their recent work? Most important rule of all: don't choose an artist because you have heard of them. Many portraits linger in attics because people commission friends of friends to paint a child when they are really only confident at painting older people etc etc. The rules apply to all types of commissioning.