During our initial communications we will discuss the details of the commission and I will lead you through some essential issues. After that we can move on to the next phase. From beginning to completion, the process that follows a commission could be divided in three stages:

 

1. Composition

This is the most dynamic phase for both painter and sitter. I prefer to paint from life but I can use photographs, if that is easier for my clients. The first time I meet with the sitter I may make some sketches, take photographs and discuss the particulars of the project.

After this I will continue to work on the composition in my studio using my imagination. The classic rules of composition were carefully used by the Old Masters and in my work I pay special attention to this area because good composition is the key to a successful work of art.

During this stage I will show my clients, normally via email or post, some sketches depicting an approximation of the portrait and give them an opportunity to express their opinion before I start the painting.

2. Painting

Once the composition is approved, a period of intense activity will follow. I prefer to work with a sight-size approach which means that I paint what I see the same size I see it from a fixed point.

Depending on if photographs are used or not, between 2 to 6 sittings can be scheduled. I generally travel to my client’s preferred locations for these sessions and I complete the rest of the painting, such as the background and details, in my studio in Fife.

I only use the finest materials to ensure that my paintings last for centuries. I follow a classic method, creating an underpainting upon which I apply the colour in layers.  This time-proven technique results in a picture of incredible depth and vibrancy which will contribute to create the illusion of three dimensions.

3. Finishing

Before the portrait is completed, minor retouches are necessary at times. I prefer a more painterly depiction rather than a hyper-realistic rendering, but the level of detail and finishing will depend on what we have agreed with the client.

I will give you information about how to look after your painting and I can frame it or give you advice on framing options. From the commission to the last brush stroke many months can elapse. Even after the delivery, the oils will continue to cure, or dry.

Ideally, one year later the painting should be cleaned and given a coat of varnish to protect and enhance its appearance.  This is included in the price of the portrait.  If it is not possible for me to carry out the varnishing, I will advise on alternatives.

 

My preference is to meet with the sitters in person because painting from life produces a different result and it allows me to study my sitter better. Of course, sometimes this may not be possible and in these cases I can paint using photographs as my only reference.  However, unlike a machine, I will create a tasteful composition looking at every element in order to do more than simply portraying a photo-copy.