Portrait Commission FAQs

Portrait Commission FAQs

Will you travel for commissioned portraits? Are there any restrictions?

I do travel for commissions, for sure. Many customers have a favorite location that they’ve asked to have their portraits painted. This makes for a more personal portrait. It could be a favorite vacation spot, a place that holds sentimental value (e.g. childhood home), or simply a place of inspiration (e.g. a beautiful botanical garden). Personally, I enjoy the creativity it adds to the portrait. Customers cover travel expenses (travel, boarding, food allowance).

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What is the difference between an oil portrait and a pastel portrait? Is one better than the other?

The difference between the two mediums, in a nutshell, is this: oil is simply ground up pastel mixed with a binder such as linseed oil. In other words, both consist of pigment (e.g. “cobalt blue”, “yellow ochre”); oil paint uses a liquid resin to disperse and bind the pigment to the support (e.g. canvas), whereas pastel relies on the tooth of the paper or canvas to bind it to the support. Both mediums can be equally permanent and archival. The resin in oil paint (e.g. linseed oil) hardens and becomes the protective barrier to the pigment. Pastel doesn’t harden (there’s no resin involved), but requires the protection of glass or Plexiglas. The caveat, though, is that oil resins can change over time (e.g. some linseed oils darken and yellow over time),though this has a lot to do with the care of a painting, and can be reversed easily. Pastel, on the other hand, not having a binder to darken or yellow, retains its original vibrancy. As for framing, both are framed identically, with the painting inside the edge of the frame (no mat). Which to choose for your portrait? A few factors to consider: Cost: oil requires more time, so it costs more than pastel, which is direct (no drying time); Feel: some say pastels are “softer” than oils in their appearance; Tradition: if you are following suit with previous commissions (oil or pastel); Preference: you prefer not to have glass on your portrait (though I use the excellent brand Tru-Vue AR glass, which hides 97% of reflections). I enjoy both, and find that I can do some things in pastel that I cannot do in oil, and vice versa. Browse through examples of each and see which one you gravitate to.

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Do you work from life or photographs?

I work from a combination of both. You can obtain a lot of information from a photograph, but not all of it. A good portrait painter is not a camera, but a person responding to his or her subject. That’s why it’s important to not only look at an artist’s portfolio but to find out what kind of person he or she is. People respond to life and others differently, and this shows in their work. Okay, I’m giving you more than asked for… I combine a color study (for outdoor portraits or indoors when applicable) with photographs. The color study gives me information that the photographs never capture, and the photographs allow me to get a boat load of information in a short amount of time (i.e, my subject doesn’t need to for 20-40 hours, but only 1 or so!). See my article Photographs or Life for a more in-depth take on this topic!

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Is any age too young to consider for a portrait?

Essentially, no. Photography allows me to capture subjects that normally would not be able to sit for an extended length of time. I remind my customers that “all I need is one good shot!” I may shoot a multitude of photographs, but all I am truly looking for is one good look. I can reference different photographs for the body, but the face demands that exquisite look we’re after. The other thing to consider is including a sibling or parent in a baby’s or young child’s portrait, perhaps sitting on a lap or resting in one’s arms. Children are wonderful to paint with their sweet expressions.

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How long is a portrait sitting?

The actual photo session for the portrait sitting takes about 45-90 minutes, depending on age and cooperation of the subject.

However, a successful portrait sitting is much more than the photo session. You can read details here at the Portrait Procedure page.  The sitting begins the moment Mr. Chambers arrives on location or meets the subject in his studio. The sitting involves getting acquainted, hearing stories and passions, seeking the ideal environment, discussing portrait details.  The whole experience is delightful and fun, as Mr. Chambers is wonderful to work with.

A good portrait is far from a mere copy of a photograph. It’s the artist’s response to the person. This is why we commission painted portraits- to capture the human element like nothing else can.  You’ll enjoy seeing Mr. Chambers ‘in his element’ as he gathers all the information necessary to create a great portrait for you.

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How long does it take to receive the completed portrait?

Approximately 4-10 months from the date of the sitting, depending on the size and complexity of the portrait, the selection process, and the artist’s schedule.

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What are the payment terms?

A deposit is required prior to the sitting, with the balance due upon approval of the completed and delivered portrait.

Note that Mr. Chambers has never had a portrait rejected. This is because, from the moment he begins discussion of the portrait with you, his goal is to fully understand your purpose and desire for the portrait. He won’t lay one stroke on the canvas until you and he have a complete, mutual understanding of the goal of the portrait. Once this is settled, he can begin creating with the deliberate confidence required of any great work of art.

More details can be found at the Portrait Procedure page. Feel free to post your question below if you have anything that you need to ask.

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Is there a price difference between commissioning with Mr. Chambers directly versus through one of his brokers?

None other than the size of the initial deposit. Mr. Chambers requires a 25% deposit. The agencies have their own requirement, usually around 40%.

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Do you provide referrals?

Absolutely. Mr. Chambers has never had a portrait rejected, and thus he has hundreds of customers who will readily chat with you regarding their experience.

You can also read many feedbacks Tim has received for his portraits on the Testimonies page.

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“If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine!”

by Elisabeth Elliot

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