Portraits from Life

Working from a model from life is a traditional part of an artist’s training and practice.  I try to make time to visit local open life drawing sessions every so often.  I do most of my portrait commissions from photos for the sake of convenience, but there is something unique about the process of painting a subject from life, and it keeps an artist’s observational skills sharp.

Here are two portraits I painted yesterday, at the Howard County Center for the Arts and at Zoll Studio- each one took around an hour and a half (with breaks for the model).

I am happy to offer commissioned portraits from life to my local clients, at my studio or in your home.

Why choose a live sitting over a photo?  Neither option is “better,” each is unique.  Using a photo reference allows the artist to capture a fleeting expression, or the memory of a special time or place.  The artist can spend a long time creating a carefully controlled finished piece.  For a live sitting, the subject must pose for an extended period of time, so the expression and pose is usually relaxed/neutral.  The artist must be efficient, capturing the most important aspects of the person’s likeness and spirit in a shorter amount of time.  This can lend the finished piece a sense of immediacy and intensity.  Sitting directly for the artist can be a special experience for both the subject and artist, connecting them to a longstanding artistic tradition dating back to the work of the old masters.

If you choose to sit for a live portrait, you will need to be able to hold a relaxed, comfortable seated pose for 20 minutes at a time.  You should plan for about 2 hrs 30 minutes total time together, including breaks between sittings. You may bring an adult companion to keep you company, but please do not bring unsupervised young children, as you will need your undivided attention to pose.  Children as models must be old enough to sit relatively still and calm.  Live portrait sittings of pets are generally not recommended.  Please note that a friendly dog does live at my home studio- if you have allergies or fears, we can meet in your home.

Pricing is similar to my standard options, but only available in certain sizes.  Please inquire for pricing, process, and size options for painting multiple subjects together.

10” x 14” watercolor- $250 – one subject

12” x 16” watercolor- $300 – one subject

10” x 14” graphite- $150- one subject



Baltimore Painted Screens

A friend asked me to participate in painting a screen for a project being run by the Southeast Community Development Corporation in Baltimore. I was assigned a home owner in the Highlandtown neighborhood to work with- I’ll be painting her screen door. These are two mockups based on her ideas, Deep Creek Lake, MD and the Chesapeake Bay with blue crabs. The screen has a crossbar in the middle, so I tried to integrate that into the composition for the design. The client has chosen the Chesapeake Bay image, so stay tuned for updates of the actual screen painting.

I’m excited to be involved in this, as I’ve always wanted to try Baltimore screen painting. For those not from our region- screen painting is a regional folk art that was popular in many Baltimore neighborhoods during the early 20th century. A screen painted with a pretty design on the outside allowed homes to have their windows open, letting in the breeze, but prevented those on the street from seeing into the house.

A Newsletter!

Last weekend, I took a wonderful marketing workshop with local magician David London, geared toward helping artists of all types with their self promotion.

I realized the lack of an e-mail newsletter for my business is a problem.  I’ve got this blog, and I’ve got a business Facebook page, but I will also start providing an e-mail newsletter through Mail Chimp for those who prefer to receive their news that way.  The news updates through those three methods will all be similar, so feel free to choose whichever one suits you best- you won’t be missing out on important info by not following all three.  Any special sales or coupons will also be advertised in all 3 places.

You can sign up for my e-mail newsletter using this box here:

I won’t be adding past client e-mails to the list by default, although you may receive a one time personal e-mail from me over the next few weeks inviting you to subscribe to the newsletter if you choose.  You can, of course, also easily unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each newsletter.

Holiday Shopping

I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but when it comes to custom artwork, it’s not too early to start thinking about commissions for portraits you’d like to give as holiday gifts.

I am offering 10% off all portrait commission orders begun before November 1st!  I often get more orders than I can handle during November, so help me spread them out and get a discount!

The final order deadline for work you’d like in time for Dec. 25 is December 1.  I may take more orders after that date, but can’t guarantee on-time delivery on those, especially if they need to be shipped out of state.

You can find current prices, options, and all the other details you’ll need to start a commission here! And more samples of finished portraits here.

Of course, you can also purchase prints and other immediately available items through my Etsy shop right up until the last minute.  I can also arrange for portrait gift certificates as last minute gifts.

What’s coming up?

Tomorrow, Friday, September 12, 5:30pm- “Drawing at Dusk” at the Luce Center of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Join me for a free life drawing session with costumed belly dance models from troupe Aubergine.  I will be demonstrating and facilitating the session, while two of my lovely troupe mates model in traditional belly dance costume.

Sunday, September 14, 11am- Pet Memorial Ceremony at Baltimore Humane Society in Reisterstown, MD.  I will be available to create quick pencil sketches of pets from your photos for $15, split with BHS.  The ceremony is free and open to anyone who has lost a pet at any time.  RSVP is requested.

Also- all holiday portrait commissions are currently 10% off (please mention this post) until November 1!  The final deadline for US commissions needed by Dec 25 is Dec 1.  Early orders are always appreciated.