As I developed my method for making portraits, I have adopted the early Renaissance approach of completing a pictorial project with the satisfaction of the client as paramount.
I view the process as a collaboration, the client being involved in the many decisions regarding dress, expression, pose, background, etc. and thus having an accurate idea of how the painting will look when finished. My experience and art historical knowledge help guide the client towards a result that is pleasing to him or her and that will well represent my abilities and style.
The image of the subject is derived from photographs. Generally it takes half of a day to get enough reference photographs from which to make the painting. For the face a hundred and fifty or so exposures usually suffice. Additional images are made of hands, jewelry, clothes, and furniture, etc. The client and I discuss the photographs during the shoot to be sure that we concur on the direction of the project.
After the photographs are edited, I will present an image of the whole composition and four or five images of the face for comments and approval. The execution of the painting comes next. When complete, I am happy to make adjustments to the face if requested.
The selection of a frame is made as soon as the painting is sufficiently developed to make the right decision regarding width, style, and color.
About a year after the painting is finished, it will need a final varnish. If it is nearby I will do it. If not, a painting conservator can usually be found locally.