How to Pick a Portrait Artist

How to Pick a Portrait Artist

An oil portrait is a tremendous gift you can give to future generations.  Whether an official representation of a dignitary or an intimate expression of a loved one, a painting made of quality archival materials will last for centuries.  A well painted portrait expresses the character and soul of an individual, where as a photograph can only record an individual’s image.  The artist’s knowledge and interpretation of the reality in front of them is what allows them to paint truth and bring a painting to life.  Therefore, selecting the right artist is of the utmost importance.  Here are some points to consider in choosing an artist:

Tips for Picking a Portrait Artist

1.   Style.  Select an artist whose style you like.  Do you prefer something impressionistic, illustrative, or classically realistic?  Are the flesh tones believable or to your liking?  Is the style compatible with the personality of the subject and the purpose of the portrait?

2.  Photo-realism versus fine art.  Do the portfolio pieces of the artist show character, personality, and soul or only appear photographic?

3.  Ability to draw from life.  This is the greatest indicator of the true fundamental skills of an artist.  Many artists today work solely from photographs and are masters at reproducing an image that captures that split second of a person’s lifetime, but may lack heart.  An artist who can draw from life has the knowledge, skills, and empathy to be selective in what they paint.  They can portray a likeness that is more natural and life-like.  They capture the truth or essence of the subject.  Even if a portrait is painted posthumously, a skilled artist can often bring it to life by improving the reality of the image.

4.  Ability to draw hands.  This ability is a great indicator of an artist’s skill level and experience.  Many artists find hands to be even more challenging than faces.

5.  Knowledge.  Samples of the artist’s work will demonstrate if the artist has mastered form, value, color, line, rhythm, perspective, and proportion, the elements necessary to create good art.  Do their portraits exhibit a solid understanding of the anatomy involved?  Knowledge of anatomy is essential for structurally sound portraits.

6.  Price.  If your goal is to buy a portrait that will pass to your descendants and future generations, look beyond the price and get the best you can afford.  Fine art works increase in value over time.  Your purchase is for now and future generations.

7.  Character of the artist.  Are they professional?  Do they adequately communicate the business details involved in commissioning a portrait, such as fees, schedules, and expectations?  Are you comfortable working with them?

These are some points to consider when selecting an artist.  They are also my strengths.  If you like what you see on my website, I would love to hear from you.

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A traditional painter of portraits and fine art.