Commission Information

First step is selecting the photo. Next, deciding the size and whether it will be oil or pastel. (I can help with these steps.) Then, a commission agreement can be sent, and a 50% deposit paid. Mock-ups are sent, and once approved, the portrait is started. When it is done except for finishing touches, a photograph or scan of it is sent via email for feedback. If no changes are needed, it is finished and another photo sent for final approval. The portrait balance is due then. Shipping is last, and payment will vary due to size, distance and method.

I will consult personally with you in the areas listed below to insure the best results before beginning the artwork. (Sometimes it really becomes a collaboration, with clients taking additional photos, both of us giving input and feedback, and finally creating something truly unique and treasured. Other times, the client knows exactly what they want, and I follow their direction.)

It is very important to select the right photo for the best portrait possible. That is why consultation is so important in this step. Detail, clarity and a good angle are important, as well as lighting. Digital cameras and film photos are preferable for their quality. Camera phone photos usually aren’t the best quality, due to resolution, grainyness, focus, etc. Some flaws can be overcome, as my painting techniques actually improve the image, but some photos just won’t work out as well. Additional photos for reference on color, or details, are good supplements. I will work with you to find the best choice if you aren’t sure. See “Photo Tips” page if you need help in taking a good pet photo, and what not to do.

FYI- The highest resolution is preferred for clarity. For jpegs, that usually means a higher pixel size, so 3000×1500 is much higher than 640×480. For other file formats, usually a larger file size means higher resolution as well. (To send large digital files, see “Contact” page.)

The standard background is a solid color with tonal variations because it usually features the pet better, but you can choose to keep the original background if it is fairly simple. If it’s very complex (for example, an entire house with lots of detail), I can paint it for an additional charge, but most people choose to highlight their pet. I can also substitute a grassy background for a slight charge (see below for example). If you would like a scenic background, I can add that for an additional charge, which depends on complexity.

I can recommend a size based on your needs, while also considering the aspect ratio, (or proportions) of the photo, whether it’s a head only, or full body, two or more pets, etc. Also, if you aren’t going to have it custom framed, and plan to buy a stock frame, some sizes are easier to find in stock, and you’ll have more selection. For pastels, if the size is too small, it is hard to show detail, so I can recommend a good size for the photo I’ll be working from.

Before I start the artwork, I will send digital photos of mock-ups. These are to show how the image will fit on the canvas or paper, and any tonal background colors that would be used. They are not exactly how the actual portrait will look, because they are done on computer, and the portraits are done by hand. I improve upon the mock-up during the painting process, to bring out the best in the pet. I can only do so much on the computer before it becomes cost prohibitive. Once I have the client’s approval, I begin work on the portrait, and send another digital photo toward the end of the artwork for approval before I do finishing touches. I can then send another photo for final approval before pick-up or delivery.

STEPS DURING THE PROCESS: (Can vary as each portrait is unique; this one involves combining 2 photos, and adding a background.)

Photo selection:

We agreed on these, as the client liked that they were both looking at her, and I could combine them in the same setting, as the perspective is the same. (shot slightly from above.)


This is the Photoshop mock-up, to show how the dogs would be placed, and the new background. Note that it looks a little cut-out, because it is done on the computer.


The sketch is sometimes sent for approval, if the client prefers, or if I need to feedback on something.

*The other stages aren’t usually sent for approval, as they look unfinished. When it is close to done, I send a photo before doing final details and varnishing.

Final Portrait:

Notice that the portrait looks much different than the mock-up. Colors have been created using other photos for reference, details and texture brought out, and all the surfaces unified. The background is toned down, so the dogs stand out.

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