Making the decision to commission a portrait is perhaps fairly straightforward. Deciding who should be trusted with such a task maybe less so. Here, we list the top five things to consider before commissioning your portrait.
There is a huge difference between an image captured in a photograph and one captured by a portrait artist. A photograph captures a moment in time but a portrait captures the real essence of a person. With this in mind, it is perhaps worthwhile investigating whether your chosen artist can work from both life, as a preferred option, or with confidence from a photograph. For example, does the artist take time and effort to capture the image to be drawn from themselves? If so, you can be assured that the lighting will be perfect and the angle just right so that the very best portrait can be made.
Drawing from life is perhaps one of the most complex skills a person can try and master. Working with an artist that can do this proficiently ensures you will never be disappointed with the end result. When you’ve commissioned a portrait it is likely that you will need to sit for approximately 15 hours over a number of sittings. Undoubtedly, during this time you will move, feel different, look slightly different, hold yourself differently etc. It is a unique person who can create a work of art in these circumstances.
A good portrait artist does not have to be old but they absolutely must have the right type of experience. It’s worth investigating where an artist trained, who they have painted before, where they have painted and to of course view their portfolio before a commission is agreed. A good artist will have drawn a wide variety of people of both genders and from all walks of life.
As well as experience, an artist’s education is a key indicator of their calibre. While it is possible for a good artist to be self-taught it is often extremely reassuring to know you are investing in someone with formal, classical education.
Perhaps the most important factor when deciding who to commission to do your portrait is how you feel about that person, the way that they draw or paint and how their previous works move you. Art is as much about the heart as it is the head and so it’s vital that both have an equal share in the decision making process when it comes to commissioning a portrait. After all, both should be captured in the final piece.