Having a portrait painting commissioned is fun and exciting. The process shouldn't be stressful! If you'd like me to take photos for you, I offer a convenient photoshoot option for Standard Portrait Commissions. If you'd like to use your own photos, here are some helpful tips to make choosing a reference photo easier.
How to choose a Reference Photo for a Portrait Commission.
1. It is best to choose a photo where the subject looks most natural.
2. Look for a photo where the camera caught the subject unawares. A natural expression when the subject looks most like themselves is best.
3. Do not choose a photo where the subject is smiling "cheese!" for the camera.
4. Consider a photo where the subject is not facing the camera straight on.
5. An angled face, an interesting expression, and good lighting are great.
6. You do not need a perfectly framed head shot. I will crop your photo and change the composition.
7. Most importantly, be sure the subject is clear and in focus. Zoom in on the face to be sure that it is not pixelated or blurry.
Let me know if you have any questions about how to choose a reference photo! I'm happy to help. Contact me here.
Portrait Project, Addendum Part 2
I put the final touches on Jonah's portrait today. So, now my Portrait Project "Addendum" has wrapped up and my Portrait Project is officially finished!
Twins Noah and Jonah are a coordinated set of paintings, meant to be framed separately, but displayed together. I focused on capturing their two different personalities, while also having the pair of paintings still match. They are twins, after all!
I kept my mark-making loose and free with this pair. Preteen boys are endlessly growing and changing, and always active. I feel that this loose look showcases the idea that these paintings capture but a moment in time.
Thanks to all of my Portrait Project "Addendum" subjects!
The Portrait Project may be over, but I will continue with portraits. Contact me if you're interested in having a custom portrait painted.
If you'd like to take a look at all of the portraits together, see them in my portfolio.
Portrait Project, Addendum Part 1
I'm back at work on my Portrait Project, working on the twin boys! It's going really well and I'm having a wonderful time with them. I'm sure I've said it before, but I have to say it again - I never would have guessed that painting portraits would be something that I'd enjoy this much. But it's true; I love it!
I also finished another portrait in April! So, here's Addendum, Part 1 to my Portrait Project showing my in progress work on these final three.
Noah & Jonah
I should have an Addendum, Part 2 with the finished portraits in about a week!
If you want to find out more about having a portrait commissioned, please contact me or view my commission request page. I'm always happy to chat!
Portrait Project, Week 6
I've wrapped up the final week of my Portrait Project! With this self-created project, I completed six pastel portraits in six weeks. With each one, I allowed myself the freedom to push it in the direction I felt compelled to go. I was bold with color, I was bold with mark-making, and I learned so much more than I ever hoped.
THANK YOU to all the participants! I am extremely grateful for the trust you gave to me. You are amazingly brave people to hand over your photographs and give me the freedom to create. I hope the results bring you joy! While painting these portraits, I, myself, was full of joy. In fact, I frequently felt myself smiling for no real reason except that it made me so happy to feel a connection to each soul I was painting. Thank you!
During the final week, I surprisingly didn't do all that much to the portraits. I thought I would still have a lot of finishing touches to complete, but when I placed each portrait on my drawing board, I realized there wasn't much to add. I'm glad I gave myself the extra time to stand back from each portrait and absorb how it looked. Doing so allowed me the room to not fuss or over-work them.
And now, at last: Here are the photographed, finished portraits!
They are all 11" x 14", soft pastels on sanded pastel card.
As you may remember, Savannah and Penelope are sisters. I intentionally painted their portraits as a set. I'm pleased with how the opposing background and clothing colors work together. Here is how they look side by side.
Portrait work continues...
I have three more portraits on the docket that I consider to be an extension of this project. The twin boys, Noah and Jonah, and another adult, Melanie. I will add an additional blog post to my Portrait Project category page revealing them when they are complete!
If you're interested in having a portrait or another subject commissioned, I invite you to see the information on my Commission Request page and get in touch with me. I look forward to hearing from you!
Portrait Project, Week 5
This week I found out that I will have to wait on painting the twins' portraits due to some challenges with getting reference photographs. Their portraits will come eventually, but they won't be part of the six week time period. I anticipated this happening last week and added another portrait (Abigail) and officially decided to include Matthew's portrait in the group of six.
During week 5, I added more details to Savannah's and Penelope's portraits. I also finished or mostly finished Henry, Matthew, and Abigail.
Here are some detailed photos of the six portraits at Week 5.
All of these portraits will get wrapped up during week six. Then I'll photograph them and I'll reveal the completed set in a week. I'm excited to show you!
Side note: I've added more finished paintings to my portfolio page. Take a look at them here.
Portrait Project, Week 4
My studio is filling up with faces and loads of color! It is truly a joy to be in this space during this snowy-white winter we're currently experiencing in Minnesota.
This week I changed my plan a bit since I wasn't able to start the final two portraits of my Portrait Project as I had hoped. So, while waiting for photos of the twins to arrive in my inbox, I added more details to some of the portraits I already have in progress.
I also chose another subject to add to the project since I was getting antsy without a portrait to start! So, here's my progress on Abigail this past week.
What comes next?
I'm also considering what my next step will be after this Portrait Project comes to an end. I definitely don't want to stop making portraits. I think I'm learning quite a bit, discovering my style, and getting into a groove. I especially love to see the faces as they emerge from a black page.
Please let me know if I can make a portrait for you!
Portrait Project, Week 3
I'm halfway through my Portrait Project! I've discovered that one of my favorite parts of creating a portrait is working out the contours of the face. It's like putting together a puzzle. I feel compelled to keep working on it until all the pieces come together just right -and click!- I've created the likeness of the person. It's very satisfying and challenging all at once.
This week I started two portraits! The two girls are sisters and I want to be sure their portraits work together as a set. It's been a fun challenge to be sure their color schemes jive and their compositions work well as a pair when placed next to each other.
Penelope (and Savannah)
As I mentioned last week, I'm going to hold off on finishing each portrait until the final week of the 6-week long Portrait Project. I want to be able to bounce from one to the next and back again, so I can learn from each one as I go along.
This coming week I'm hoping to start on Jonah and Noah, another pair of portraits! This time the duo is not only siblings, but they're identical twins!
Yes, I'm taking commissions!
Portrait Project, Weeks 1 & 2
Sometimes the pieces just seem to fit together so well. That’s when I know I’m on the right track!
I started my 6-week long Portrait Project just as I was figuring out a new routine that would allow me to include both pastel painting and textile art in my daily schedule. It really was the ideal time for me to get to work on a pastel project! Was it kismet or am I getting really good at hearing my intuition? Whichever it is, I’m glad it’s working for me.
Two weeks into my project of 6 portraits in 6 weeks and I’ve started two. My goal for this project is to use it as a learning experience, a way to discover how I want to work as a pastel artist. (By the way, thank you to the participants who are allowing me to create portraits for them as part of this experiment!)
Since beginning, I’ve already determined that I want to keep each portrait unfinished until later in the 6-week process. It seems to me that the portraits should work together as a group. I want to be able to bounce from one to the next, so I can learn from each one as I go along.
Here’s where I am now.
Other Pastel Work Continues
In the meantime, I continue to work on other pastel pieces to learn, grow, and refine my techniques. Here are some of the other portraits I’ve completed for practice - and because it's so fun!
In the next two weeks I'll start on Savannah and Penelope. Check back for my progress!
The Portrait Project is full! Thanks to everyone who signed up to participate. If you'd like to follow along, please see my Instagram feed. If you'd like to find out more about requesting a custom portrait, go here.
I’m about to start a 6-week long portrait project and I’m inviting you to participate!
You’ll help me to build up a body of portrait work in my own style, with a variety of subjects. In return, you’ll receive a creative, original work of art at a reduced price of about 50% off!
I plan to take on only five portraits for this project, so if you're interested contact me soon, or purchase your spot in the portrait project now. Find all the details below.
Details of what to expect
Each portrait will be of a single subject (one person per piece). I'm requesting full creative license for this project. You’ll need to be okay with letting go and perhaps getting something slightly unexpected.
What Mary will choose:
Price to participate is $150 per portrait (plus tax and shipping, if applicable).
This offer has ended.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, I'm more than happy to chat with you!
I'm looking forward to working on a wide variety of portrait subjects!
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.