The portrait process typically begins with a phone call or email, during which subject matter, size, fees, and schedule are discussed. Elizabeth then makes arrangements to meet with the subject in person, followed by a photo session and often some sketching in oil or graphite/conte crayon. This meeting usually takes a few hours and is important to the success of the final painting.
When Elizabeth is back in her studio, she selects a number of the sketches and photographic references that she believes will combine to create the best composition, and paints a color study. The color study is a small, rough sketch in oil paint that shows the pose, lighting, and other features that may be important to the final painting. This color study is sent to the client. Changes and adjustments are made at this time, and upon sign-off of the color study the portrait is taken to completion, using the sketches and reference material gathered at the sitting. If necessary, a final sitting is arranged.
Please note that Elizabeth Whelan is happy to paint the sitter entirely from life, and encourages the portrait subject to consider this approach. However she has found that modern life does not often allow for a sitter to be available for such a schedule, and likewise, some types of portrait do not lend themselves to this approach. She has had excellent success with working from her reference material and spending the time getting to know her portrait subject is vital to her process.
Upon viewing of the final painting, client satisfaction is paramount, and when the painting is complete Elizabeth Whelan can deliver the portrait depending on the destination or ship it via an insured carrier.
Completion of the portrait can vary from two to six months. Elizabeth Whelan uses only her own photographic reference, without exceptions, unless the commission is for a posthumous portrait. (Before agreeing to a posthumous portrait Elizabeth would like to see the reference from which she will be working, as that will be key to achieving a high-quality finished work.)