Archive for the ‘Tips Before Ordering’ Category

Appropriate Guidelines to Paint Your Portrait

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

At one point our guidelines for how to choose appropriate photos and provide additional instructions includes a very funny and pointed comment: “Our artists are serious and talented painters, but they are not clairvoyant.” I find this reminder particularly helpful, because with a satisfaction guaranteed policy like we have, every customer should understand that the artists try very hard to satisfy sometimes idiosyncratic desires.

Perhaps you prefer shadows and darker tones in your portrait.  We will not know that unless your source information communicates it.  For example, if the photo you select has shadows evident and you provide no additional instructions, your portrait will include the shadows.  You would need to explain any and all changes that you want, in order to see them in your finished product.  As well, be aware that if there is some aspect of the portrait’s desired appearance that is complicated or open to various interpretations, it is likely that, without clear instructions, the artist will not be able to create what you seek.

Try first and foremost to show what you desire through the images you provide, and then take care with your words when describing any departures from the original image that you look forward to seeing.  If additional instructions (regarding aspects of the portrait that could successfully differ from the photograph) are not provided, we will privilege the photographic information over our own opinion about what the best portrait would look like.  We may decide to make recommendations, but we will never make the decision to diverge from what the photograph depicts without first gaining permission from you, the customer.

Fortunately, there is one additional step in which customers can request that small changes be made based on an emailed photograph of the nearly finished portrait, but the painting will be most successful if the original instructions are very clear about alterations to the image in the source photo.

Author: Julie Ann

Choosing Colors and Clothing for your Portrait

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

When selecting the photo, or when deciding to pose for the photo that will be used for the portrait, the tenets of good photography portraits pertain to the oil portrait.  I found a photographer who blogs about his work, and he always recommends that clients choose clothing with solid colors, or at least prints with low contrast, i.e., nothing too loud or busy.  Avoid plaid, stripes, logos, or trendy styles.  Similarly, avoid big or shiny jewelry or belt bucklesGo for neutral or muted colors because bright, flashy colors will draw attention away from the smiles and the people.

Portraits turn out best when all the colors fall in the same tone range.  In other words, you should be able to identify a pleasing color scheme. Think of the way a bride or wedding planner arranges the colors of dresses, flowers, etc.  You don’t need to match colors exactly, but consider that if you include more than one shade of a single color (for example, faded vs. bright blue), it may look like you tried to match but failed.  Even modern era portraitists, who used stylized textures and lines, usually relied on solid colored clothing to make pleasing compositions.  Tamara de Lempicka, a painter in Paris in the 1930s, chose a white satin gown and a red coat for her Portrait de Madame Boucard.  In another, Femme au Col de Fourrure, Lempicka decided that her subject wear a teal dress with a brown coat and white gloves.

Let’s talk about how setting, clothing, and theme can all work together to make a successful portrait.  In the previous examples, women were depicted in coats.  For your own portrait, if coats were the clothing of choice, it would seem natural to have an outdoor or even a snowy background.  If the subject(s) wore casual summertime clothing, perhaps a sunny green backyard or a blue sky with beach would help tie the composition together.  These choices help communicate the personality of the subject(s).  If it is a portrait of 2 more people, no one person should wear anything extraordinary compared to the others.

Because oil paintings are well suited for portraying a certain elegant realism, this may be the approach you decide to take when making your theme and color choices.  A formal, or classical, approach to your portrait may mean that the poses are more rigid, the perspective is the most flattering possible (but not necessarily the most natural), the setting shows off luxurious items like velvet curtains or gilt-edged books, and the clothing is expensive and freshly dry cleaned.  However, many contemporary oil portrait clients prefer a more natural and unassuming style of portrait, as with the aforementioned beach background portrait.  Given that the outdoor setting is rather informal, it may fit best with informal poses and clothing.  An informal pose is one that looks very comfortable and typical for the person, and in which perhaps one or more subjects do not face the camera.

Author: Julie Ann

How to choose a good photo for your portrait

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

My earliest memory of a portrait was one that included my cousin when she was a young girl.  I recall thinking that it did remind me of her, as I’d known her then and as I knew her currently (albeit with less cute baby roundness).  The color scheme was soothing and deep, and I really liked the composition as a whole.  If I’m not mistaken, there were plants edging two sides.  The effect of that portrait on anyone viewing it in their home was touching, and it made the family seem a little more culturally aware of art through time.

The reason for any portrait’s success is that the artist (often commissioned for choosing how to do the work) is talented or, that someone chose a good picture and asked a talented artist to paint it.  The portrait-interested person, then, should definitely be aware of guidelines for choosing a good picture.  Good lighting, a large enough size to view details, and a high enough resolution for fine details are 3 basic attributes of a good photograph in general.  But in addition to that, photographs that translate well into oil portrait form must be considered from the perspective of people who have never met the subject(s).

It is important to ensure that the picture, when viewed through the eyes of both the painter and the future viewers, will reflect and communicate what you want it to.  Expressions on faces – are they appropriately positive, open, flattering?  Who is placed where within the photo?  Is the relationship between the people (if there is more than one pictured) made clear by their postures, direction of gaze, actions?  Is clothing important?  Other items that appear – is it okay if they take on symbolism, or dictate aspects of the subjects’ personality to the viewer?

If there is a “flaw” or a thing that you want changed or removed, the artist will likely be able to change or omit it, as long as you describe the change adequately.  Doing this may make the choice of reference pictures doubly important.  See my other posts for more about background and clothing choice, and what to do if the perfect picture for your portrait has a flaw, like eyes that aren’t open or poor lighting.

Author: Julie Ann