During the initial stages of a portrait commission, I like to spend some time with the client just getting to know them. We also discuss the overall idea, size, and location where the portrait will be hung.

The process of painting a portrait is one of exploration, and as part of that process, I take many photographs. This session usually takes about two hours and is scheduled at my studio or the client’s location. The benefit of the client’s surroundings, are that I can get an impression of their life and absorb some of the character and atmosphere of the whole personality. Picking out the outfit together is also a big plus. There are benefits of photographing in my studio as well (such as my experience with the light here during the day, and the client possibly seeing other works in progress). I take all of my pictures in natural light.

Producing lots of photos not only gives me a chance to study the client’s physical features, but also offers an insight onto the subject’s manner, body language, and personality. I also search for potential compositions. It is here that I get a brief insight into the nature of the painting to come.

Unlike many portrait painters, I love working from my vast array of photographs rather than having someone sit for me for hours on end. I like to capture those moments that just happen…. The ones I can only catch on film. I call them the “in-between moments”… for me, this is where I find the space where the true character is hiding. In the case of posthumous portraits, I will work with my client with whatever photo references are available. In order to achieve the best results, I prefer to not to show the painting until it is finished. Some clients really want to see a few stages in progress, and I am happy to do that as well. My portraits are not “cute” and flat, but, raw with depth and character. My policy is to paint a fine portrait that my client loves. I will work on it until they do. That is my guarantee…

Although the commission does not come framed, I am happy to offer advice on what frame would best accommodate the work, since I do see the framing as an integral part of the finished portrait.

I am very happy to receive calls and e-mails to discuss this process further, answer questions, and talk of pricing. I live and work in Marquette, Michigan.