Commissioning a Portrait
The key to my work is that I get to know my clients so that I can understand their life, their personality, what they want in a picture and that little extra that brings the subject to life – a spark of life that explains more about the person than any photography could ever do.
I draw out the personality of the subject by inviting them to talk about themselves and their life – how they would like to be pictured and how they would like to be remembered. Are they confident or hiding behind their shyness – or a person who has an inspirational story to tell?
Every subject has an unique story, and that is the story I seek to unfold in my painting.
A portrait can last for 600 years or more, so it is in essence a little piece of immortality – it will still be looked at long after we, our children and our grand-children have gone.
Those unfamiliar with the process of commissioning a portrait might expect it to be a wildly creative process – in fact it is very structured – the creativity is reserved for the canvas. I meet with you and talk through what is possible, the process, what is required of you – in a sense I cast you for the role of subject in your own visual play.
Through this process we discuss position, style and background, from which comes a clear brief of what the finished portrait will be like; this forms the basis for a simple contract. I take a deposit so that preparation sketches and other work can commence and once this process has started there shouldn’t be any changes to the subject matter or position (as this would of course require reworking and would require an additional charge).
I paint the living breathing human being as much as possible, so all commissioned portraits require some sitting; although some work may be done from photographs, it is only through sitting for the portrait that the true personality of the individual can shine through.
The experience of sitting for a portrait is enjoyable; although required to maintain an approximate position, I actually prefer you to be able to relax, talk and interact. It is often a process that allows a sense of great calm and introspection which is often a rare occasion in a busy everyday life.
While some subjects are brimming with confidence and know exactly how they want to be portrayed, for those less confident, this process offers an opportunity to reflect on self-image as they become involved in the creative work. If you have any questions or concerns at any stage of the process, I will be happy to talk through them.
Commissioning a portrait is in itself a creative act, an exciting, enjoyable, wonderful process with tangible and intangible rewards. It is after all, all about you.
Commissions On Public Display
The Norwegian Poyal Opera House, Oslo, Norway
Professor Ansgar O. Aasen
Oil on canvas 90 x 70cm