Commissioned Portrait

Michigan Couple, Oil, 18x24" Sold

When I moved to Arizona in July, I brought this piece to finish for a couple back in Michigan. I have included photos of my progression from start to finish. I worked entirely from photos provided by the clients. I did a sketch that I had approved first. Then, I used Photoshop to make a photo composite that became my main reference.
Photo composite created in Photoshop
I made a 3" grid on my reference and transferred as a sketch to my canvas. I like to work freehand. I had marked off an extremely light grid with soft vine charcoal. the brush removed the majority of it as I worked loosely and quickly.

Light, loose wash with burnt sienna.

Applied a warm ground to create unity and a middle value.

Beginning to lay in local color and value.

Starting to refine the faces. Made the decision to get rid of the shadow between the heads.

Detailing the faces, adjusting the background and clothing.

Added some coolness into the background for balance and finishing touches, overall.


  1. I can not imagine doing a job like this. It would mess with my head so much I couldn't sleep .....but you did a wonderful portrait. Thanks for showing the steps. Was it fun to do or is it daunting for you?

    1. It went pretty smoothly, even if the timing was not the best. Moving from one state to another and pretty much across country, is not ideal to taking on a commission! There is always a certain amount of anxiety before I do any artwork, commission or not, because I really want to do the best job that I can. I always want to please the client and myself. Most of all, I want to learn to improve my skills, with each piece I do... no conflict here! :)


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