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a portrait in oils of an elderly man with a beard and white hair looking to his left, against a red background

of people from all walks of life


"My work as a portrait painter has given me the opportunity to spend time with people from all walks of life: academics, judges, businessmen and women, comedians, actors, scientists and politicians, often at the very peak of their profession." If you are thinking about commissioning a portrait, you may find this useful. MORE

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Commissioning a portrait can be a daunting process, so if you are thinking about it I hope you will find the following information useful. Although I treat each portrait entirely on its own merits, this will give you an idea as to how the process generally works. 


Informal discussion

This could be in person, over the phone or online. It will give you an opportunity to discuss what sort of portrait you are looking for, how formal it might be, the size and where it might hang. We might also discuss where the first sitting takes place.


First sitting

Meeting the sitter, or sitters, in person is usually the next step. More often than not, it takes place at the sitter’s home or place of work. It gives us both an opportunity of getting to know each other a bit, and gives me the first real chance of exploring how to go about creating a suitable image. I usually bring a camera and sketch book with me so that after the sitting I can mull over what visual information I have gathered back in the studio. 


Subsequent sittings

Ideas as to how to proceed will have developed since the first sitting. Using photos, drawings and so on, I gradually arrive at a composition that becomes the starting point for a discussion. It’s a collaborative process and bit by bit we get to a point where we are agreed on the setting for the portrait, the pose, the background and so on. I like to have at least a couple of sittings where I paint directly from life, but I am always flexible.


The finished painting

I will continue to work on the portrait in the studio until I get to a point where I think the portrait is finished. At that stage we look at the portrait together and discuss what amendments, if any, are necessary. When everyone is happy, the picture is delivered. Framing is not included in the price, but I am willing to offer advice.


The whole process generally takes a few months, varying according to the

complexity and size of the portrait. I use the very best materials to ensure

that the final work will stand the test of time.

Case study

I had the privilege to be asked by the National Portrait Gallery in 2011 to paint

the eminent scientist Sir Martin Evans. The process is documented here.

If you would like a current price list my contact details are:

07780 997576

David Coble painting Professor Quentin Skinner
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