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Portrait paintings and drawings from photos

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long before I receive my order?

Time scales vary depending on the complexity and size of portraits and my current workload. A small portrait may be completed in as little as two weeks (possibly quicker if required). A large, more complex portrait may take a matter of months. I am sympathetic to the needs of customers who may be looking to give portraits as birthday or anniversary presents and require them by specific dates. Please contact me for accurate estimates regarding completion times for specific portraits.

Please note that original artwork is posted only once full payment has been received. I endeavour to have UK orders delivered within 5 working days of receipt of payment. International orders will take longer.

How much does it cost?

The price is dependant on a number of variables - size, medium (painting or pencil drawing) and the number of figures in the portrait. Please see my price guide. I can also provide quotes for bespoke portraits.

How do I place an order?

Please email or telephone. If you would prefer to use standard post I can provide a postal address. More on placing an order...

When do I pay?

A 50% deposit will be required before I start work on a portrait. Final payment will be due upon completion of the portrait.

Can I make secure payments?

Yes. I accept secure online payments via PayPal.com.

Can I commission portraits at sizes other than those listed?

Yes. Please contact me with your requirements. Non-standard size canvases may need to be ordered so will take longer to complete.

How do you complete a portrait?

I work in traditional methods. Paintings are produced in artist-quality acrylics or oils on canvas in an Impressionist influenced technique. Black and white images are drawn in pencil on cartridge paper.

What's the difference between oils and acrylic?

Acrylic paints are quicker to dry than oils, so can be produced more quickly. The consistencies of each paint vary slightly; oil paint is 'buttery', acrylics are more synthetic. It might be argued that oil colour looks richer and more 'natural' than acrylic, however portraits painted in acrylics are typically bolder, with more colour impact. My paintings gallery includes examples of work in both oils and acrylics and provides the opportunity to compare the visual effect of each.

Acrylics are believed to be more permanent than oils, are more resistant to the effects of ageing, do not yellow or crack, and remain flexible - an acrylic painting may be re-stretched or rolled-up for future storage without its' paint cracking.

Do you have a gallery I could visit?

No, but you can see examples of previous portrait commissions on this web site. My other web site, Birtall.co.uk, includes examples of portrait paintings and drawings, alongside landscape paintings and illustrations.

Which countries have you shipped to?

Outside of the UK I have shipped work to Northern Europe, USA and Australia.

How do I choose my photo?

Your photo may be an existing photograph or a new photo taken especially for the portrait commission. Either way, please try to ensure that:

  • The photograph is clear and in-focus. It should be easy to make out facial features. The clearer the features are the better the portrait will be.
  • The photograph should be well-lit. Flash photography tends to flatten features so avoid it if possible.

Please feel free to e-mail photographs to me if you are unsure of a photograph's suitability. Please send scanned photographs as high quality JPG files saved at 200 or 300dpi and the same size as the original photograph.

Can I combine more than one photo into one portrait?

It may be possible to combine multiple photos for group portraits. Consider that the light will need to be coming from roughly the same direction in each photo for your portrait to look convincing. If in doubt, I'd be happy to take a look at your photos and give you my considered opinion.

Can I change certain features in a photo?

Possibly, but normally difficult. I can make a judgment once I have seen your photo.

Can I change the background?

I normally give portraits plain backgrounds. Backgrounds can be changed if required but complex backgrounds may incur extra charges.

Can you produce a colour painting from a black and white photograph?

If you have a black and white photograph from which you would like a full colour portrait painted, it may be possible to achieve given provision of sufficient colour information (other photographs) regarding hair, eye and skin colour.

What's the difference between canvas board and stretched canvas?

Canvas boardsStretched canvasStretched Canvas

Stretched canvas (also known as box canvas) is canvas mounted onto a wooden stretcher frame (pictured left). The quality of canvas is often superior to that on canvas boards and they can be hung unframed, though I recommend framing.

I use ready-prepared stretched and primed canvases from reputable manufacturers, which come in a range of sizes. The depth of the wooden stretcher is variable and the methods used to secure the canvas to the stretcher frame will vary slightly to that pictured.

Canvas Boards

Canvas boards (pictured right) are commercially prepared acrylic-primed cotton canvas, mounted onto lightweight board. I use only those boards made by reputable artists materials manufacturers such as Daler Rowney, Winsor & Newton and Loxley.

They are generally easier and cheaper to frame.


How will the portrait be sent?

Smaller portraits will be sent to UK addresses via Royal Mail Special Delivery. Larger portraits and international orders will be sent via a delivery service such as DHL, Fedex or Parcelforce, depending on current prices and availability of services.

Do you frame the paintings or drawings?

No, though I am happy to advise.

How should I hang the portrait?

Stretched canvas is light and may be hung without being framed. Canvases and drawings should be hung in an area exposed to natural, but not direct sunlight.

Can I see the portrait before it is shipped?

Yes. Once the portrait is completed I will e-mail a scan or photograph. If something needs changing it can be changed at this point.