1. First of all, you must love the Artist’s work. Look at as many pieces as possible, and don’t be shy about calling the Artist or the organization you like the most.
2. When you decide on a portrait, whether it be Corporate, Family, Pet, Sports, Entertainment portraits or a special Landscape Portrait, ask about the process. When I first spend time with a client, they usually specify what type of portrait they would like. I then explain how I create a detailed pencil sketch to scale, prior to creating the actual painting. By doing this, my clients can see the face, body, and details of what will become a final product – in the actual size of the painting. We can then all critique the sketch and make corrections, if necessary. I find this process is relaxing for my clients, and it makes the creation process even more fun.
3. After speaking with the Artist and providing all the detailed information necessary, the next question is where to display the completed painting. The Artist should physically see where the space – whether a room, courtroom, business or other area – and understand the lighting, size of the space, et cetera. This helps also guide the conversation about frame size, shape and color. I have longstanding relationships with local framers, who I work with when the time comes. Since my portraits are pastel paintings, special care is required to create museum-quality environment for these Masterpiece works of art, and I personally supervise the framing process to ensure this.
4. Paintings take time to create so there is usually a contract to sign when hiring a Portrait Artist once all the details have been worked out. The final delivery date is important. If you are planning to have a portrait created for a particular event or within a certain timeframe, give yourself four or five months more time, just to be safe when commissioning the artist.
5. At my first official meeting, I like to sketch and take photographs as guides for the very important pencil sketch to-scale, which I create prior to starting the painting. This way everyone has an idea of exactly what to expect.
6. Make sure the Artist does the research needed for each creation before you commisssion the artist. Everything has a history and there must be an open dialog to investigate why a certain color, vase, pet, or décor is something the client wants in the painting. Why did they use that color or what kind of cat is their beloved pet? Make sure the Artist is informed and asks questions that are important to you.
7. Every Artist has their own way of doing preliminary work before a painting. The objective here is to make the client feel comfortable and as excited as the Artist is to create this new Masterpiece. Not every Artist does a detailed pencil sketch to scale. I create one, so that a client can personally approve it before I start the actual painting. Whether my clients are around-the-corner or around-the-world, I keep them informed either by personal studio visits or by email.
8. All Portrait Artists are aware of the preservation of their work. The materials should be of the best quality and on acid-free surfaces.
9. Clients should see the painting at least twice before the Artist starts the finishing process. Once a painting is finished, and before I begin framing, I always have a viewing for my clients. After that, I scan each finished painting for my archives and along with the Original Painting I give an 8”X10” giclee of the work to my clients. I also have the ability to create very special Fine Art Note Cards of the painting, as a lovely way for clients to write their personal notes.
10. The most important thing about the portrait painting is that the painting looks like the subject. No matter what the background details show, the subject is what it’s all about. That is the key to a Masterpiece Painting. Portraits are a gift of love.
Written by: L.A. Cline, Master Pastel Artist, www.LACfineart.com