Over the past couple of years I’ve been guilty of neglecting my website and this blog. It’s far easier to post my latest news on Instagram, and to be seduced by all the likes and comments I receive. However, the truth is that although my website receives only a fraction of the views that my Instagram feed enjoys, it still generates the majority of serious enquiries. So here I am, updating my site 🙂
In June I contributed a figure study (shown above) to a fundraising auction for Sweet’Art, and was pleased to learn that it sold. Sweet’Art have been organising and curating exhibitions in London since 2014. Generally with a feminist ethos, always with energy and a love of art. I’ve had paintings in a few of their shows over the years, and would recommend that you pay them a visit https://www.wearesweetart.com/
I’m hoping to renew my acquaintance with Espacio Gallery in their Impressions exhibition at the end of August. It gives an opportunity to invigilate for a day during the show, which I really enjoy. It’s educational seeing how people react to your paintings on the wall in a gallery.
How do you commission a portrait? Well, having recently posted the short video above on Instagram, I thought a more in depth guide would be helpful.
Firstly, the most important thing is to find an artist whose work you like. I would suggest that factors such as the collectability and market value of an artist are less important when commissioning a portrait. You’re not looking for an investment, but instead want a sympathetic rendering of yourself or a loved one. You don’t need to go through a gallery or agent. If the artist has a website with a contact form or email address, or has a social media profile, then they will almost certainly welcome enquiries about commissions. Otherwise they will have something like “contact *** gallery for information”. Some artists may be happy to produce a painting from a photo you provide, but most serious portrait artists will want at least a short sitting, even if it’s just to work out the best pose for reference photos.
Once you start searching, you’ll probably be surprised by the wealth of artistic talent that’s hidden nearby. Open studio events, group shows, regional art competitions and art fairs are a great way to find local artists…., and of course, there’s always Instagram. Once you have a shortlist of artists that you might want to approach, you will have to give some thought to the type of portrait that you are looking for. Price will depend partly on size, but also complexity. For instance, two figures will take longer to paint than a single figure, and a plain background will be easier to paint than the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The lighting and setting will depend on the subject. Harsh, directional lighting might add character while softer, flatter lighting is generally considered more flattering.
So you’ve decided that you want to commission a portrait. What do you want this painting to say about the sitter? Historically artists would include props to indicate the trade or position of the subject, but in present times people would probably not choose to be defined by their job, but would instead prefer to emphasize some other skills or attributes.
It’s quite popular to have a family group portrait, but bear in mind that for most artists it will add to the cost – two figures takes longer to paint than a single figure. And of course the chosen size of the painting will affect the price.
Artist are very often the targets for online scams. I receive far more phoney emails than I do legitimate enquiries. If you do choose to contact an artist about commissioning an artwork, it might help to include your contact details, or a link to your social media profile, just to help persuade the artist that you’re genuine.
I’ll be showing a couple of my Relationships Series paintings at this show. “Love Stories” is hosted by Art Number 23 at their gallery space in the Old Biscuit Factory, Block F, Floor 1 studio 1, SE16 4DG.
“An amazing collection of artworks about relationships and love!” Private view is on Thursday 7th March, 6-9pm. Admission free, No RSVP needed.
This is the poster I shared on social media, when my painting “Michael” went missing on its return from a show in Moscow. My painting, along with over a dozen others, were being shipped back to London, to the co-organisers of the event here. Somewhere enroute, the box containing all the artworks was damaged, half the artworks were reboxed, given a new tracking number, and found their way successfully to London. The remaining artworks have disappeared into some limbo between the Russian and British courier companies. Each side is blaming the other, with neither accepting liability. All the time treating the lost “items” with about as much sympathy as they would deal with a lost book or DVD. With my painting now lost to me, part of me hopes that it has been stolen, and is hanging on someone’s wall, giving them pleasure. The terrible truth is that it has most likely been mashed up by a clumsy forklift driver, and thrown in the bin like it was a dirty pair of socks.
I’ll be showing my diptych “unnamed portraits” in the London Ultra exhibition at The Bargehouse, London SE1 9PH. The show runs from the 6th to the 9th December, 11.00-18.00. Preview party is on the 6th December, 18.00-21.00.