Commissioning a Portrait Painting

Terry Guyer working on the Moquin Family Portrait 48x72" oil on linen.

Your New Portrait Begins with the Finest Materials

All commissioned portraits are painted with the finest hand-made oil paint on quadruple oil-primed Belgian linen stretched on custom made-to-order museum stretcher bars. Professional work starts with a solid footing and is made to last for generations.

Commissioned Portrait Process

The portrait painting process is a flexible one depending on the desired outcome, availability of the subject, and desired background. 

I like to meet with my clients to discuss their ideas and expectations for their portrait. Considerations include the subject(s) to be portrayed, their availability, the purpose and mood of the portrait, clothing style, simple or complex background, and where you plan to hang the portrait. This helps us determine appropriate painting size, cost and how to proceed. A complete estimate will be supplied for your approval to proceed.

Whether the portrait is to be from 3 to 5 live sittings, a single live sitting, solely based on my photo session, or from a professional photograph you have and want to guide the painting, I like to take reference photographs for detailed work in the studio on hands, clothes, and background. 

A photography session, included in the portrait fee, is scheduled and different poses are tried while dozens of digital photographs are taken to bring out the personality of the subject. The photo session usually takes one to one and a half hours. The artist selects the photos that he feels are the best and shares them with the client to choose the final pose.

Frequently, elements of different photos will be combined with the selected pose to show the subject at their best. A composition sketch is then created for the client's approval prior to starting the painting.

The oil portrait is progressed in the artist's studio and, when nearly finished, shown to the client for comments, either in person or through photographs. Comments are incorporated into the portrait painting and presented again to the client for approval prior to delivery.

Although I am a San Francisco Bay Area painter, I am available to travel worldwide to consult with the client, take reference photographs, and to make sketches for approval.

Prices below are rough estimates for an oil on linen canvas painting of one person, life-sized. Painting sizes are an estimated size and will be determined by the approved composition.  

Oil on Linen Portrait Pricing:

Small Portrait: head and shoulders (16 x 20" or 18 x 24") – $3,500 - $5,000

Medium Portrait: 1/2 figure (24 x 30") – $6,500

Large Portrait: 1/2 figure or 3/4 length seated (30 x 36") – $ 8,000

Extra Large Portrait: Full-figure seated or 3/4 figure standing
(38 x 48") – $ 10,000 -$ 12,000

Grand Manner Portrait* by estimate

* The Grand Manner Portrait is a traditional life-sized standing figure in formal dress and often includes an elaborate background.

For each additional person on the painting, add 75%. For horses add 75%, and other pets add 50%. Airfare, accommodation, shipping, framing, and applicable sales tax are not included in above figures.


A 50% deposit is due on agreement to begin. The balance is due upon satisfactory completion and delivery of your portrait painting. For your convenience, credit cards are accepted.

Ray Kurzweil sitting for his portrait. He made time in his busy schedule to have his portrait done from life.