Walls of Wonder

411 on Portrait Commissions with Portraits, Inc.

Commissioning a child's portrait is a time honored Southern tradition that goes hand in hand with our goals of supporting artist communities and investing in original art. We are turning to Portraits, Inc. artist Liz Lindstrom and two of our valued Well Collected Guide members, Ann Richards of Atlanta and Mary Overstreet of Nashville, to pull back the curtain on what it looks like to commission a portrait. You’ll quickly see that working with Portraits, Inc. is highly personal, relaxed and full of laughter!

Check out the video below where Liz Lindstrom walks us through a visit with a family and shares how she values getting to know her subjects in a comfortable, natural setting. To expand upon Liz’s video, we have asked Portraits, Inc. representatives Ann Richards and Mary Overstreet to answer some of the most commonly asked questions in their industry – enjoy!!

1. What is the best age for a child's portrait? 
Personally, I don't think there is a best age for a portrait, but the most popular ages for children are ages 3-6. I tell parents when you look at your child and want to capture that moment of time then start the process. - Ann Richards


2. What medium is best for our family? Oil, Watercolor, Pastel, Charcoal, Bronze...?

The age of the subject is a major factor influencing medium choice. The gentle approach of a watercolor, pastel, or charcoal conveys the innocence and precious demeanor of a young child. For an active elementary school student, an oil may be more suitable. The movement of the brush strokes and use of rich colors in oil reveal the energy, vitality, and spirit of slightly older children. That goes for teenagers, too! - Mary Overstreet


3. Is it possible to use an existing photograph for a portrait?

If a parent is open to allowing the artist to visit and take photographs, I suggest this when possible. It’s so nice for the artist to get to know the family in order to capture a child’s personality. In some cases, such as when parents wish to capture their child at the age of 4 and they are now 24, an artist can use existing photos. Artists will need to approve the photographs, and if they have been taken by a professional photographer the family may need to get a release form for them to be used by another artist. - Ann Richards



4. What if my child nabs the scissors and cuts his or her hair right before the sitting? 

Search the refrigerator door for snapshots of your child with a full head of hair. The magic of the paintbrush can restore your baby's locks! - Mary Overstreet

5. Do you have any suggestions for clothing? 

I always say keep it simple! The big puffy sleeves, wild colors, plaids, and ill-fitting outfits detract from the child. You want to see your child's face, not the clothes they are wearing. - Ann Richards



6. Is it okay to work with different artists for each child?

Absolutely! Your family portraits are considered a collection.  A varied art collection is often more desirable. Having said this, my young families tend to have the same portrait artist paint all of their little ones. The parents of teenagers and college students often choose artists whose styles fit the personalities of each son or daughter. - Mary Overstreet



7. Would you recommend taking photographs inside or outside?

Lighting is very important in a portrait. Outside or inside can work beautifully, however the lighting can be more controlled inside with natural light from a window or door. Some artists like to bring extra lighting to a sitting in case it's a dark day. The artist will likely walk around outside with the subject to find a perfect spot. Weather, of course, is a factor. - Ann Richards



8. How large or small should the canvas be? 

My rule of thumb is to allow the composition to determine the size of the canvas. For a portrait capturing a child standing you may opt for a larger canvas. Why minimize the creativity of the artist simply to meet the requirements of a standard canvas size? - Mary Overstreet

Thank you to Ann, Mary, Liz and Portraits, Inc. for sharing this valuable information! Ann and Mary are available to discuss your personal portrait questions, don't hesitate to reach out to these wonderful ladies!

Ann Richards Contact...

Email: arich6181@gmail.com

Phone: 404.210.4058

Mary Overstreet Contact...

Email: mary.s.overstreet@gmail.com

Phone: 615.491.2115