Q. How long does it take?
A. As long as it takes. :o) Seriously, it can take 4 to 6 months for a simple portrait or a couple of years for a complicated painting. There are so many variables involved, such as the amount of detail in a painting, the number of people, whether the hands are in a prominent position, etc. One thing to remember, I never rush a painting to you. I always give every effort to do my best work.
Q. Do you work from life or photographs?
A. Both, actually. I prefer to work from my own photographs. At the photo session I am able to observe the subject in 3 dimensions and living color, making mental notes that I refer to while creating the painting. I also see the subject again at the time of delivery. There is no substitute for this personal experience.
Q. Is your work done on top of a photograph?
A. Absolutely NOT. There is a type of portrait, often sold through photography studios, which consists of a large size black and white photograph that has transparent paint applied to the surface of the photograph, or a photograph on a textured surface. It is called by various names, such as "light oils," "heavy oils," "gallery canvas," "studio painting," and so forth. Generally that type of work has the photograph taken by one person and the paint applied by a different person. Often the person applying the paint is not really involved in the creative process of making the portrait and never even sees the subject.
My paintings are ORIGINAL OIL PORTRAITS, hand sketched in charcoal and pencil directly on the linen canvas, then hand painted with the highest quality artists' pigments following the same procedural manner and methods as the old masters.
Q. What size will the painting be?
A. My portraits are from ¾ to life size in scale. This creates a true lifelike representation, a sense of the subject "being there." Whenever possible I make the paintings a "standard" size to facilitate your purchase of a ready - made frame.
Q. Do you paint very young children?
A. Babies learn to smile at about 6 weeks of age. They are able to sit up by themselves at about 5 to 6 months of age, but often still don't have distinctive facial features. Anywhere from newborn to 2 years old is wonderful for a "Mother & Child" portrait, but usually isn't best for a child alone.
Q. What is the best age at which to paint a child's portrait?
A. That depends on many variables. Little children don't usually get "their" face until around the age of 2. Some children don't have much hair until then either, so I usually think of 2 as an early age, 3 to 5 being a perfect age, with 6 as getting VERY close to losing the two front teeth, although I have painted a 7 year old who still had his front teeth.
Actually, losing the front teeth is not a true impediment, since teeth can be painted in, and of course, a slight smile rather than showing lots of teeth is usually better for a portrait anyway. When the front teeth grow in again the shape of the face changes as they are usually a little large for the child's face until around age 8, when the face "catches up" with the larger teeth. All ages are appropriate after that.
Q. What if my child has gotten a scratch or cut?
A. As long as there is no extensive swelling that changes the child's face which would make him look wrong in the photographs, there is no problem. Remember, this is an original painting and it is easy to not paint all the details in. That goes for blemishes, freckles, etc. As much or as little as you like can be included.
Q. How many photos do you take?
A. I much prefer to have too many photos than not enough. I generally take 4 to 7 rolls of 24 exposures. These will include close ups of the setting, fabrics, and items included as props.
Q. What if my child cries while you are here?
A. It has certainly happened before, and it will happen again. It doesn't bother me. When a child has had a little too much stress, we can take a break and focus on something else for awhile. Children have an amazing way of rebounding afterwards and I often get my best photos when they have tired from a crying jag.
On one occasion, a child misbehaved in such a manner that taking his pictures was not a successful event. I went back to his home 3 separate times for photographs (at no extra charge.) It wasn't until after he had a little spanking from his Mother on my 3rd visit that we got any good pictures. If your child needs discipline, don't be afraid that his crying will ruin the pictures. They get over it.
Q. Should I have my children painted together or separately?
A. That depends on the individual situation. Do you have room in your home for several paintings if you have several children? If so, each child can have his or her portrait when they grow up. Nice to think about, isn't it?
On the other hand, if you only have room for one painting, or simply prefer a group, the love and affection that can be expressed by a sibling portrait is a beautiful thing.
Q. How far do you travel?
A. Take a look at the Travel Range Map. I live in central Alabama, and prefer my driving travel time each way to be 5 hours maximum. That includes all of Alabama.
Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon, Georgia; Tallahassee and Pensacola, Florida; Biloxi, Columbus, Meridian, and Tupelo Mississippi all fall into this category.
Q. How long does the photo session take?
A. The actual picture taking session usually takes 1 to 3 hours, depending on how many people are to be in the painting. The initial set up of the photo lighting equipment takes at least half an hour. (This is a good time for dressing children and making final adjustments to hair, makeup, etc.) It is best to not schedule other appointments that day, especially as it can be difficult for me to estimate driving time to a place I've never been before.
Q. What if it rains?
A. No problem. Even when a portrait setting is outdoors, I prefer to take the "face" pictures inside. Harsh, bright outdoor lighting usually results in squinting. Many times I have taken all the outdoors shots for the background in the rain, while the subject of the painting didn't go outside at all.
Q. Is it possible to work from old photographs to paint a subject that is no longer living, or a child at a particular age?
A. Yes, it's not the best situation, but most of the time it is possible, and I have been pleased to have done many of them, often when very few photos exist. I need to see the collection of photos you have to give a definite answer, and will also need additional information from you as regards the accuracy of the photographs, for example, there may be differences in coloration from what appears in your old photos and the correct colors, such as a person's hair may actually be much lighter or darker than it appears in a photograph.
Q. Should I have my child's hair cut before the sitting?
A. Bangs need to be short enough that I can see your child's eyebrows. It is impossible for me to guess what anyone's eyebrows look like if they are covered up.
Q. I just had my child's hair cut and want it long in the painting!! Is there anything that can be done?
A. If you have photographs of your child with longer hair that I can see, it will be just fine. We just paint it the way you want it to be.
Q. Does it make any difference what color I wear?
A. Yes. You should choose a color that is flattering to your skin tones, as well as something that will look good in the room where the painting is to hang. Since we gravitate to colors that we are comfortable with, that usually presents no problem.
Q. Is there any color that is wrong to wear?
A. Red is great to wear in a portrait, but it can be difficult to photograph. In the event you wish to wear red, have another garment of neutral tones available to wear for some of the photos, especially close to the face.
Q. What style clothing should the subject wear?
A. Try to find something that is classic and avoid anything that is faddish. Something that is "old fashioned" is usually a good choice, because if available today but old in style, it is usually a classic style. Generally, strong colors in the garment can overwhelm the painting, while softer clothing colors allow more focus on the face. Lace garments, solid colors and small prints work well, while large flowered prints are never a good option. Evening gowns are wonderful for the classic formal portrait for women.
For men, any classic style is appropriate. Casual slacks, shirts and sweaters are excellent choices for a casual portrait, and naturally, a business suit for a corporate portrait.
Q. Can my pet be included?
A. That depends on the pet. I think it's wonderful to include pets when they are appropriate and cooperate. The size relationship between the subject and the pet can be important. A very small child peeking out from under a very large dog can be a wonderfully cute snapshot, but not such a good portrait.
Q. Do I need to wait to schedule my photo sitting until the special flowers I want to have in my painting are in bloom?
A. Not usually. I have files of hundreds of photographs of flowers of all types including azaleas, dogwood, roses, hydrangeas, pansies, magnolias and more. I also have photos of both spring and fall foliage typical of southern trees that I can use as a background.
Q. Do I have to make arrangements to pick up the finished painting?
A. No, I hand deliver my finished portraits. I am prepared to have a final sitting with the subject if there are any minor changes you would like to have made, although that seldom happens.
Q. How should I care for my finished portrait?
A. Your portrait should last a lifetime, in fact it should last several lifetimes, and with minimal care and consideration, it will.
The painting should be very lightly dusted from time to time, never washed, and never hung in direct sunlight or exposed to excessive heat. From time to time you may notice a slight "slackness" of the canvas. This is a natural characteristic of pure linen, which slightly shrinks or stretches, depending on the humidity.
Q. What about framing?
A. Framing is not included. While I am happy to do all I can to help you in your framing decision, my primary business is creating portraits, not selling frames.
I have heard that there are some portrait brokers who follow the practice of making the paintings in unusual sizes that they just happen to have very expensive frames available in.
Whenever possible, unless the portrait is very large, or needs to be a special size to fit in a special place, I try to work within the range of standard sizes to facilitate your purchase of a ready made frame if that is your desire.
"Ready made frames" are available in many quality levels. They are generally less expensive than "custom made frames," because they can be mass produced.
Keep in mind that ANY size painting can be custom framed, and like ready mades, there are many moulding styles available, from the elegantly simple to the very ornate.
I will be happy to offer suggestions to help you make a good selection.
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