Portraits by Pierre

Custom, Commissioned Paintings in Oil on Canvas

Email or call me at 951-225-9624, Temecula, California

Portrait Artist  Portrait Gallery  Portraits, Landscapes, Still Lifes


A commissioned portrait, especially the traditional kind - hand painted in oil on canvas - is a timeless treasure. This time-tested technique captures the subtleties of a personality in ways photographs cannot match. Sitting for a portrait is a unique and exciting experience. It leaves fond memories for the subject and wonderful stories for future generations. Here's a typical sequence of events showing the succession of steps to completion:

Initial Consultation - First, we'll discuss your expectations. We'll talk about preferences, composition, attire, background, angles of view, size of painting, time frame, fees, where the portrait will hang, etc. A 25% non-refundable deposit is due after the initial consultation (see payments below for complete details).

First Sitting - The first sitting is a key part of the custom portrait process. It allows me to get to know the subject in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

The subject will come to my studio or I can travel to his or her place (depending on the distance, an extra charge may be required). If an in-person sitting is not possible, I can also work from photographs that you provide.

During this first session, I will ask the subject to pose and we'll try various positions and lighting combinations. I will take pictures and possibly do a color study to analyze skin, hair tones, etc. This normally takes a couple of hours or so. Some of the topics of the initial consultation (attire, background, etc.) may be refined at this point. Please note that the size originally agreed upon may be adjusted for compositional purposes after the pose session.

Commission Agreement - Once we agree on the scope of the project, I'll ask you to sign an agreement describing the specifics of the commission. A second 25% non-refundable payment will be due with this agreement.

Painting the Portrait - After the first sitting and with your agreement as to the format and design of the project, I'll continue working on the portrait in my studio from the photos and my notes. You will be updated regularly during this phase.

Final Sitting - When the portrait is nearly finished, I'll ask the subject for a final sitting to make any needed adjustments. Depending on the situation, additional sittings may be needed. Final payment will be due upon completion of the painting. [top]


My Artistic Style - When painting a portrait, my goal is to create a fine piece of representational art that reveals the mood, character and personality of the subject. My style can best be described as a combination of traditional and expressive/impressionistic. In other words, I try to make the painting look real (although not like a mere photograph), as if one could reach out and touch the person. I can also paint in the classical style - think Leonardo da Vinci or Vermeer, among others.

To see samples of my work, click on the "Gallery" button above or on the following link: Portrait Gallery. To find out more about me and my artistic background, click on the "About" button above or on this link: About the Artist.

How Long? - Painting a portrait in oil can't be rushed. So, it may take several weeks or even months to complete one. The timeframe can vary for two main reasons: 1) It depends on the number of pieces I'm working on at the time and 2) Oil (unlike watercolor or acrylic) dries very slowly, and I have to wait for the painting to be completely dry before I apply the final coat of varnish.

If you can't wait that long (a special occasion, for example), see "Gift Certificates" below.

Painting from Photographs - Let's say you want a portrait of your grandmother who has passed on. Send me as many photos of her as you can gather and we'll discuss the possibilities. I can usually paint from photographs only (although a live sitter is preferable).

Shipping and Insurance (not included in the price) - I can ship via Federal Express, UPS or USPS. All paintings are insured for their full purchase price.

Frames - To display their art, most people prefer a decorative frame that suits their own personal tastes and interior decorating schemes. I am an artist, not an interior decorator, so I provide my portraits without a frame. [top]

Medium - I hand paint every portrait myself, using quality oils on stretched canvas - see "Canvas and Stretcher Bars" two paragraphs down. If you prefer a portrait drawn in pencil, instead of oil paint, there is another possibility - see "Another Option" below.

Varnishing - To give a uniform look to your portrait and protect it from dust (and possible other soiling agents), I will varnish it for you. But, as I mentioned above, I have to wait for the paint to dry first. Depending on the painting technique used (thick layers of paint known as impasto, for example), drying time may take several weeks or even months.

Canvas and Stretcher Bars - Stretcher bars are the wooden structure to which the canvas is attached, usually with staples. For a standard canvas, these bars are usually 5/8" thick. A painting done on this type of support requires a decorative frame to be displayed on a wall.

If you prefer a more minimalist/modern look, I can use what's referred to as a gallery-wrapped canvas. With this system, the stretcher bars are 1 ½" thick. The canvas wraps around the edges and is stapled to the back of the stretcher frame. Because the staples are not visible from the front or the sides - and the edges are painted - the painting does not necessarily have to have a decorative frame to be put on display.

Dimensions and Prices - The following are standard prices for common sizes:

16" x 20" or 20" x 20"
18" x 24" or 24" x 24"
Add 10% for shipping/insurance plus 8% sales tax for California residents

Prices are for one person, head and shoulders only, on a neutral background (usually one color or a gradation of two or three). Prices may vary depending on the style/technique used. Travel expenses, if needed, are not included. [top]

Special Orders - Other sizes are available on demand. I can also paint different backgrounds behind the subject (such as a landscape), partial or full body poses and several subjects in one painting (a family portrait, for example). The pricing for these will vary depending on the size, the number of people and the complexity of the project. If that's what you want to do, let's discuss the details.

Another Option: graphite on paper - I can also draw smaller, 9" x 12" or 10" x 10", black and white portraits, using lead pencils. Price: $190, plus shipping, insurance and California sales tax, if applicable. Click on the following links to see some of my drawings of people.

Payments - I accept checks or cash. A 25% non-refundable deposit is due after the initial consultation.. A second 25% non-refundable payment is due after the first sitting. The balance is due upon completion of the painting, prior to shipping.

Gift Certificates - A portrait makes an ideal present for a special occasion such as a birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc. All you need to do is pay the deposit and sign the agreement. I will then send you a personalized gift certificate to give to the recipient. Later on, when the person to be painted is available for a sitting, we can proceed with the process as described above.

Copyrights - I retain the reproduction rights to my original artwork. Unless you tell me otherwise in advance, I reserve the right to post the finished painting on my website and/or to use it as advertising collateral for any promotional purposes of my art business. The portraits I produce are intended for the personal use of their owners. They are not to be used or reproduced for commercial purposes of any kind by anyone - except me, as stated at the beginning of this paragraph.[top]

For further details please email or call me at 951-225-9624.

© Copyright 2009-2016• Pierre Mainguené - Commissioned Portraits • Temecula • California