The commission process can vary pending the artist, though many steps may be the same each artist prefers different styles, techniques, and time-frames.
Each of my commission goes through 4 main phases that require dedicated time. The style and medium dictates the amount of time needed.
I've outlined how my process works, but each piece is different and may require a few extra steps here and there pending the clients needs.
This is the fun part of the process where we get to dream and plan. We'll determine what medium and style appeals to you the most, and any extra tidbits you may want to have included.
During this phase you'll,
Easily determine your style and portrait direction by taking a quick quiz that runs you through some of my available mediums and my style options.
Learn what makes a good reference photo with these great tips, and how to upload yours for review.
Once in review I'll look at your style and medium preferences, along with your time-frame and compare it to my production schedule. I'll also be getting back to you with some additional questions I may have regarding the project and to address any question you may have at this point, as I'm sure you'll have a few.
During this phase we will agree on the 'scope of work' to be completed, and lock in a time-frame with a deposit.
We'll sign a contract to make it all official and then it's time to make something wonderful.
Model: Laramie Gambrell
Reference Photo by: Sarah McGrath Photography
This phase varies in length pending your deadline, and is where the magic really happens.
I believe that artists should take the time to revisit their work as marinating on it for a while gives new insights that typically elevate the piece as a whole. For this reason I strongly dislike a deadline shorter than 1 month for a single subject piece and 1.5 months for two subjects, though paintings will typically need longer (pending layers or drying time).
I work in a series of four main steps, while the medium may cause some steps to take longer than others. You should expect mixed-media and oil paintings to take much longer than a watercolor.
Step 1: Study, Analyze & Research
This is where I get to know the my subject. I really dig into the shape of the features, energy in the eyes and any stories you've been kind enough to share with me regarding your photo. I think about, the best light source for the portrait and how to incorporate specific style preferences or requests.
If you're interested in a stylized piece, this is also where I research any mythology, folklore, or historical research needed to complete the piece.
Step 2: Composition & Line-work
At this step I'm throwing pencil to paper and hashing out the composition or layout of how the subject(s) will sit on the page or canvas. This is a simple sketch of where the features sit, head faces, and general idea of details or object placement.
For a line-drawing this will be meticulously refined and cleaned before moving onto details and finishing touches.
You will receive a proof of the composition and line-work with an opportunity for minor adjustments at this point.
Step 3: Backgrounds, Under-painting (if a painting) & Highlight/Shadows
This stage happens gradually, by building up layers. During this stage I begin establishing form on the face by identifying the highlights, shadows, and reflected light and begin laying them in with a cool toned paint. This will allow the form to pop off the page, even when color has been applied on top.
I typically start with the face, and let that dictate the value, size and shape of the background as the background should not distract from your subject, but amplify it, allowing the eye to be drawn to what it's surrounding.
Step 4: The Final Layers, Details & Finishing Touches
This is where I dig into the areas of the piece that hold significance and make them pop. By defining special features, or items of significance (such as jewelry, brooches, barrettes, etc...) with highlights, color, or gold leafing that really bring the subject to life.
Once dry (medium chosen dictated drying time) proper sealant is needed to protect and preserve the longevity of the piece. For paper pieces I use a fixative that prevents spearing for graphite works and protects against UV rays. For oils, acrylics and mixed media a protective varnish is used and gives a glossy effect to the canvas.
Drying time for this will also depend on which sealant is used. Paper portraits tend to dry much quicker than canvas pieces.
Once everything has properly dried, I'll send you an announcement declaring it's completion along with a proof to ease the anticipation.
We'll confirm your shipping address so we can assure it arrives at your desired location.
Once final payment is received I carefully prepare your portrait for shipment. Works on paper will be shipped in a waterproof sleeve and hardened packing tube, where works on canvas will be protected from water and punctures with backing boards, plastic and bubble wrap, corner protectors, and a snug fitting box to eliminate shifting while being handled.
Once packed it's off to its new home to be loved.
I love to see how you display your pieces, so feel free to send a photo or tag your photo with #mooscellaneous and I'll be sure to see it!