portrait painting in full

Oil on Belgium linen, 18" x 44"
Private Commission

portrait painting detail

Nicole - Detail Image

On The Subject of SIZE

After speaking for awhile, the first question the client usually asks is "How big would it be?" I respond with a range. From "18 by 14 inches to 20 by 18 inches" if we're talking about an adult "head and shoulders" portrait painting, for example. I go on to explain that the cost of the bare canvas and wood "stretchers" is so small as to be negligible. The canvas is sized to compliment what's painted on it ... the "composition" in other words. I'll need more information, but before I ask for a down-payment, the client will have their answer along with a line-drawing that they can place on the wall in the spaces where the completed, framed portrait painting may hang.

Decisions as to the size of the canvas and how large to paint the "subject" on it are agreed to well before work on the portrait painting begins. Ususally, the client is looking to the portrait artist to present options and a recommendation based on a number of factors including the composition, where it will likely hang and the client's budget. It is a collaboration where the portrait artist listens carefully, then does the math and makes it easy for the client to make final decisions. It's the artist's job to take the guesswork out of the process and to make everything clear. One thing is certain: It's not enough to deliver an excellant portrait painting. The client has to enjoy the ride.

There's no need to read further, unless you would like to drill down into this subject some more ...

The portrait painting above is an example of a three-quarter length oil portrait, executed on the scale of three-quarter life. Three-quarter length is what I needed to represent the subject's style and body language in this particular case, including her right arm and hand.
At the scale of "three-quarter life", the subject's head in the portrait painting measures about 3/4 its actual size. This was large enough for me to paint her features in detail but I did not want to go any smaller than that. I prepared a carefully executed line-drawing on a sheet of paper measuring 44 by 18 inches, illustrating where the subject would be placed. The client approved the line-drawing, allowing me to move forward.

Nothing happened by accident. The result is a portrait painting sized to fit the client's needs perfectly.

Brian R. Owens
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© 2004 Brian R. Owens