Portrait Procedure for Oil Portraits

This is the preferred, general procedure for painting an oil portrait. The process for doing a charcoal drawing is very similar. These steps are not mandatory. Some of the meetings can be combined or eliminated if needed. When travel is necessary, this procedure is usually condensed to one or two sessions.

The Basic Steps for Painting a Portrait

1. Initial meeting to discuss the approximate size, pose, composition, clothing, overall mood of the painting and a location for the photo session. A commission agreement is signed and a 40% deposit is collected. This communication is often done via phone, mail or email.

2. Photo / Sketch session at the agreed location. Allow 2 – 3 hours.

3. Meet to discuss photos and/or sketches. Do a second photo session if necessary. Unless a second photo/sketch session is necessary, this step can often be eliminated.

4. Optional session for head study (charcoal or oil sketch). A compositional study, and/or photos are approved by the client before work begins on the final painting.

5. The painting is finished in the studio from the photos and sketches. There is one more sitting for final adjustments and to gain client approval.

6. After the oil painting is accepted by the client, it is professionally photographed and then delivered. The complete process usually takes 4 to 6 months for an oil painting, but work time may be reduced, if required to meet a deadline.

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