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Portraits – Questions and Answers

In the Christmas season, people are more interested in portraits, so I decided to answer everyone together.

“Do you need to sit still to model?”

No, you don't. But if I have a chance to observe my model in the flesh even for a short while, it makes my work easier. A photo or two will do if it's difficult to arrange a meeting. In that case I'll email some questions concerning, for example, the personality of the person or the pet to be painted, his or her favourite activities or colour. The more I know the better insight the portrait will have.

  Acrylic on canvas. Size: 46 x 38 cm. Sold. </p>
<p>Akryyli kankaalle. Koko: 46 x 38 cm. Myyty. Acrylic on canvas. Size: 46 x 38 cm. Sold. </p>
<p>Akryyli kankaalle. Koko: 46 x 38 cm. Myyty.

Chinese crested dog Helmi, 2010
Cross-bred Beca, 2010

“I haven't had the courage to contact you because I felt I didn't really know what I should ask and wish.”

Oh, there are no stupid questions! I try my best to explain and if these answers are not useful, you are always welcome to give me a call or to visit my workroom. Here is case example of making a portrait step by step, dating back a few years, when the customer had contacted the nearest artists' association:

Step 1: A family wanted to order a portrait of the father for his birthday to be hung at his office. The family contacted Tampere Artists' Association and agreed a consultation time in the Artcenter Mältinranta, where the portrait artists and their portfolios were introduced to them. The customers chose their favourites to whom the association sent a request for quotation. I received the request for quotation on March 8th. I listed my prices for different size options and informed them on my schedule. The association presented the quotations to the customers.

Step 2: On March 15th the association contacted me and told me I had been chosen: "They chose the size 40 x 50, for 800 Euro." The painting was to be finished by the Mothers' Day (May 9th), so we agreed to have a planning meeting with the customer and the association as soon as possible. At the meeting I got to see photos of my model at different ages, and I got a good picture of his features. I was allowed to borrow the photos. We went through the written agreement and signed it. I gave the customer the invoice, half of which was due on April 12th and the rest on the delivery date.

Step 3: I emailed the customers my ideas for cropping and colouring of the painting. I did the priming and sketched the model on the canvas imitating the photo I had chosen. On April 12th the portrait was almost finished and I emailed some photos of it to the customers. All three customers were satisfied with the work so I finalized the painting. The portrait was finished on April 23th and we agreed a meeting in the framing store Kehysliike Malkki the following day.

Muotokuvamalli  50 years / 50 vuotta, 2010

A portrait model
Step 4: We found a frame that highlights the painting and adds to its dignity. The wooden frame is carved with skill and the light golden plating gives the frame a touch of craftsmanship. The framing cost 75 Euro but since I have a cooperation agreement with Malkki I can offer my customers a 15% discount for framing.

Vanhahtava kehyslista  Kehystämössä

An old-fashioned framing list
In the framing shop

The painting was framed on May 7th and the customers collected the complete portrait at the framing shop. They still had four days to transport the present to Central Finland for the birthday person. The artists' association later paid my share to my account, with the sales provision deducted.

In this case there were many parties, there was a written agreement and the artists' association was my representative. Often this is not the case, so there are also fewer steps. However, the portrait prices are always the same, regardless of whether there is an intermediary party in the sales or not.

“What do the material options mean? What is the difference between acrylic paint and oil paint?”

A pastel painting is painted on paper with pastels of different colours. The paper can also be coloured. A pastel painting must be framed under glass because it's very fragile. A frame with a glass costs at least double the price of a simple framing list.

A charcoal drawing or a crayon drawing is like a pastel painting but plain black, brown or terracotta. It is framed under glass.

A watercolour means a work painted with watercolour paints on paper. You may also frame the work with glass to protect it.

Intaglio means printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a copper plate by etching, aquatint or drypoint, after which the work is prepared for printing a small print series. The print series can be priced as a whole or one by one. I don't sell the printing plate but destroy it after printing the print series. A graphic print needs to be framed.

Acrylic paint dries very fast and gives a matte surface. Oil paint dries slowly and gives a slightly glossy surface. With both techniques you can use thick paint or thin, transparent layers of paint. Many people have said that they can't tell my acrylic paintings apart from oil paintings. Sometimes I use varnish to finalize a work, it gives even acrylic paint a glossy surface.

You don't need to frame acrylic and oil paintings. On the back of the painting I attach a wire for hanger, and I usually paint on canvases that are stretched on high wooden lists (so called gallery canvas). The frame will put the finishing touches to the work.

Warm summer day / Lämmin kesäpäivä, 2007 Asleep, 1995

Warm summer day / Lämmin kesäpäivä, 2007
Asleep, 1995

“The costs concern me. Could you tell about the prices in relation to the size of the work?”

The canvas sizes vary, but here is an approximate price list with acrylic or oil paint on canvas:

  • 20 x 30 cm = 500 €
  • 30 x 40 cm = 700 €
  • 40 x 50 cm = 800 €
  • 50 x 50 cm = 850 €
  • 50 x 60 cm = 900 €

    •    Prices do not include VAT 10 %.

Usually a portrait size is 22 x 27 for €500. If an ordered work should be smaller, painted on hardboard instead of canvas, or if the theme is a landscape, a building or an item, I have painted the work for €350–450.

If you would like to have a portrait of two persons on the same canvas, the price is 1.5 fold. I can offer a volume discount when a family orders more portraits. Many people order a harmonious portrait series of siblings or pets.

Pastel paintings and watercolours cost the same as oil paintings, but I have drawn graphite pencil drawings for €200 to €300.

A black and white portrait created with intaglio techniques costs €350 per print. My print series are small, up to 10 prints. The print size is 15 x 20 cm.

You can buy a work with an interest-free partial payment, and many people choose that option. The minimum instalment is €50 per month.

You can demand corrections for the work once, and if you still don't like the painting, you don't need to buy it. However, the booking fee (50% of the price) will be deducted.

I have often heard that family portrait photos in photo studios are more expensive than painted portraits. After all, a portrait is timeless!

Garland / Seppele, 2006 Hair ribbons / Lettinauhat, 2011

Garland / Seppele, 2006
Hair ribbons / Lettinauhat, 2011

“Are we already late? We would like to have an artwork for Christmas.”

I would like to have a four-week delivery time for the work because I might have some other custom or exhibition works in progress at the same time. If I'm not busy I may finish a work in two weeks. Oil paints dry so slowly that with urgent assignments at least the priming should be painted with acrylic paints that dry fast, or execute the whole work with some technique other than oil paint.

You still have time to order a work for Christmas. Before ordering a work you should choose photos or shoot new ones.

Winter Light (Luca 1 year old) / Talven valo (Luca 1 v.), 2008 Drive (Leo 2 years old) / Isä ajaa (Leo 2 v.), 2008

Winter light (Luca 1 year old), 2008
Drive (Leo 2 years old)
, 2008

You can find some sample works and portraits here. You can also contact me via email or phone (+358 50 327 0746) for more information.