Commissioning a Portrait

A painted portrait captures, not only a person's physical likeness, but their identity, as well. There's just something there, a depth of communication, a connection, between a portrait painting and its viewer that is rarely found in photographs. A seemingly living art object, a portrait is a fusion of life and the perception of life as viewed through the artist's eyes in collaboration with the sitter or commissioner. It provides homage to a particular person at a particular point in time. It doesn't simply show, it tells everyone who looks upon it, just who that person is, or was. It carries with it the personality and legacy of a distinctly special human being throughout time in a way a photograph never can.

How Much Does it Cost?

While there are many variables in the pricing of a portrait commission, size and number of people, or "heads," in a portrait are by far the most heavily weighted. On average, here are some examples of what you can expect:

(Below are greyscale, posterized versions of original Kimber Scott paintings used to generically illustrate my portrait pricing structure. To see the actual paintings, click the Portraits link in the sidebar.)

Single Head, Simple Background

12 in. x 12 in.
Oil on linen canvas or panel

$450 without frame


Single Head, Simple Background

16 in. x 20 in.
Oil on linen canvas or panel

$960 without frame

Two Heads, Landscape Background

16 in. x 20 in.
Oil on linen canvas or panel

$1280 without frame

Two Heads, 3/4 Figure with Hands, Simple Background

24 in. x 36 in
Oil on linen canvas

$3000 without frame

Larger works, full-figure, multi-figured, and/or more complex backgrounds will be priced accordingly.

Are There Other Costs Involved?

Each portrait commission is as unique as its subject. Other costs may include:

  • travel expenses, (if you live over 100 miles from Litchfield Park, Arizona)
  • photography fees, (if a professional photographer is required for reference photos)
  • framing (actual wholesale cost of frame)
  • shipping and taxes (if applicable)

How Does it Work?

First, I want to get to know you and/or the sitter. So, we'll meet, at your place or mine, to discuss the portrait and exchange ideas. Once we come up with a plan for the artwork, we'll schedule a sitting for a value study, a color study and for taking reference photos. (I do not charge a fee for the photo session, if I am the one taking the photos. The photos are my property and I retain all rights. I may share, though, if you're nice to me.) This takes about 3 hours, or so. If you're short on time, or the subject is unable to sit still for 20 minutes at a time, for an hour or two, we'll skip the studies and just do the reference photos. At this time, I will require a 30% non-refundable deposit for the work going forward. Halfway through the painting process, another 20% will be due and when the portrait is finished the final 50% is due prior delivery.

How Long Does it Take?

Depending on the size and complexity of the work, it could take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. You will receive periodic updates on the work where you will be able to provide input for changes and approval for going forward.

Do You Do Posthumous Portraits?

Yes, I do, if you have a good reference photo. I decide what's a good reference photo. Here are things I shy away from:

  • Flash photography
  • Photos with teeth. Paintings using photos with big, toothy smiles tend to look like paintings of photos instead of paintings of people.
  • Photos that are too dark, too light, or too blurry to see the person's face clearly. I may be able to adjust them in Photoshop, but if not, I can't use them.

I'll be glad to look at any photo to see whether or not it can be used as a reference. Don't be shy about asking. Besides, I'm a softy and can be persuaded to do teeth, if that's what you really want. 

How Do We Get Started?

For more information or to commission a portrait, contact me here or call me at 623-329-1931. Let's make some history.