General Information About Commissioning

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A good photograph is all I require. When you decide to go ahead with the commission I can provide preliminary sketches to define any unusual layout if this proves necessary. These can then be adjusted according to individual specification. However, most portraits are straight forward work and can be executed bypassing these stages. Once the size and layout is chosen, fees and delivery date are discussed.

A non-returnable deposit may be charged at the time of placing the commission. This will depend on the overall fee for the project, and on any preliminary work required, such as research or sketches.
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The ideal photograph for me to use should be clear and in focus. The best lighting is achieved by taking it outside on a bright but overcast day. This prevents intense glare and deep shadows, both of which can erase a lot of detail from the picture. However, be careful what environment you choose — if you are hoping for a full body portrait then you may not want part of the subject‘s features to be lost in grass or behind an object.

Flash photography is ok, although it can be harder to work from and it may be advisable to take several shots from slightly different angles. The shadows produced by the flash can loose the outline, especially of a dark subject, like a pet with dark fur. If at all possible, keep the background simple.

For maximum detail the subject should cover the largest available area in the photograph. Take the picture at your subject‘s eye level, rather than having them look up at you, unless this is how you wish the portrait to look. Comfortable surroundings and treats or toys can make the task easier, although you may have to enlist the help of a friend to assist you.

Traditional (wet film), instant or digital photographs are all usable, but please bear in mind that simply enlarging digital photographs does not produce more detail and is therefore no substitute for a close-up image.
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Existing photographs not conforming to this (as happens in most of requests) can usually still be used to produce a good portrait. The work may be more time consuming and it is sometimes harder to achieve a perfect likeness, making alterations to the finished drawing necessary. To have several photographs to work from is helpful in this case as is a chat about the subject. If you are interested in a multiple portrait, but don’t have a photo with all the subjects together, I can produce a combined portrait from separate photographs.
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Copyright: I will assume you have permission to use any photographs you leave with me for a portrait. All will be returned along with the drawing, - if required, postal delivery of the finished work can be arranged at customer‘s cost.

Please note that copyright for all commissioned works remain with the artist. This means reproducing artworks in any form is not permitted without the artist's prior written consent.
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I do not usually apply fixative to my pencil drawings as I dislike the subtle change in appearance this causes. Therefore handle the drawing with care to avoid smudging. If you specify a desire to have fixative applied, I can of course do this for you. In the case of charcoal work fixative is unavoidable. Even so, your drawing will not be completely immune to smudging.

Your portrait will be delivered without frame or mount, as I consider them items of individual taste. A mount should always be used to prevent contact between drawing and glass, but a good picture framer would be happy to advise you.
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On this page:
How to commission a portrait
How to take the photo
Existing photographs
Copyright issues
How to handle your portrait

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Copyright © June 2009 Sonja McAlister
Last updated October 2010