Portrait commissions pricing
I try to be very transparent about my price structure for portrait commissions so that there are no surprises at any point.
The price is mostly a reflection of the amount of labour involved. There are a few variables that go into it, but a typical price for a 16" x 20" oil on canvas portrait of a single subject would be C$2000 (US$1500), and a 24" x 36" piece C$2800 (US$2125), plus shipping (plus sales tax where applicable). That's based on an estimate of 40 billable hours for the former and 56 for the latter. Having two subjects in the painting would increase the amount of labour involved and, correspondingly, the price.
Here's how this all typically works. I prefer to meet either in person or over video— obviously to discuss what you want and so on but, just as importantly, so I can get to know you (and the subject of the portrait if you're not the subject) a little. The 40 hour budget presumes that you have some reference photos for me to work with — the more the better — in fact, we can look through all of them when we meet and you should tell me what you like about them. You don't have to know exactly what you want, I'll be delighted to give you ideas and so on. (If you’re in Toronto, I'm also more than happy to take reference photos myself with studio lighting and so on, but that would be a few extra hours and setup. Furthermore, you’re welcome to come sit for me for your portrait in my studio in Toronto, even if just for a few hours — it helps a lot and it's quite an experience to sit for your own portrait!)
I'll give you various options and suggestions on which of your material (photos) to use, and what the composition might look like, using cropped photos and very rough sketches if necessary. Once we agree on the plan, you give me an advance of C$500 and I go off to my creative shed to produce a colour study like this 7"x7" one:
The goal of the study is to make sure we're exactly on the same page regarding colour, style and composition and to give you a chance to provide more feedback or make any requests.
The $500 covers 10 hours of preparatory work leading up to this and including the study. This sum is the same regardless of whether the final painting you want is 16" x 20" or 40" x 60". Hopefully at this point you like what I did and give me the green light to proceed to the full painting. If you want me to make very significant changes at that point (complete change in composition, palette etc), I might have to do a new study.
Once you approve the study, I once again go off into the shed and work on the full painting. I'll send you pictures when I'm halfway through the process to keep you in the loop and so that you have a chance to provide feedback. Then I finish the piece, you pay the outstanding balance and we get you the painting!