Commissioning a portrait – the process

Time-lapse of an oil painting

Young girl in oils

I have outlined the process for commissioning a unique watercolour, pencil or oil portrait of you, a family member, friend or indeed a beloved pet.

Step One

You contact me for an initial obligation-free phone call or by email for a chat so that I can understand what you are after in your portrait, from medium, to size and pose. There is no need for me to have any images at this stage.

Step Two

Send me your favoured image. Ideally it will be a digital image or scan of an old photo. I quite often alter the contrasts, and colour balances to improve or clarify the image. If you do not have any images that are suitable, we can arrange a time for me to visit to take a few shots. I generally prefer this anyway as I get to meet the subject. I appreciate that sometimes this is not possible if the image is to be a surprise, or the subject is no longer with us. I do charge for my time and any travel expenses incurred for this service.

If you are keen to take the photo yourself, make sure the sitter is comfortable, and try to get a variety of shots, looking up, looking down, and to either side. Try to take some shots where they are moving through the different positions continuously, or when they are not ready, as this often captures a little more of the true character of the subject.

The quality of the original photo can affect the style and detailing of the painting. The clearer the image the more detail that can be added. An indistinct image can cause a more “impressionistic” painting to be created, and these are often the most successful.

Composite paintings of several images are possible. An example being:

The process of combining photos

Once we have decided on the image and the medium you want the painting or drawing executed in, I will request a deposit and we will agree the timing. Please bear in mind that due to the large volume of work this can be quite some time from the commission date, so if the portrait is required for a special day or event, please give me enough notice, in order to have it completed on time.

The painting process

Step Three

Upon finishing the portrait, I will send a photo or scan for your approval. You are then given the opportunity to request any adjustments to ensure you are totally happy with the completed commission. Only then do I request the balance is paid, and I will get it into the post for you.


Finished portrait of a man and his cat

Packaging and Delivery

If you are in the UK, we will agree a delivery day. I normally then use Royal Mail’s Next Day Special Delivery courier service, which I have always found suitable for smaller portraits. This is a fully tracked and signed for service. You will be sent the tracking number and the date of expect delivery. I guarantee safe arrival of your portrait which will be fully insured in the mail. Larger portraits and international orders are sent via the UPS courier.

Small drawings, up to A3, are usually sent in an acid free portfolio sleeve. Larger drawing and watercolours are sent in cardboard tubes and with plenty of protection.

Pencil portraits are first be sprayed with fixative spray to prevent the graphite from rubbing onto your fingers when you handle them.

Oil paintings are varnished with permeable Gamvar Gloss varnish.