Academic Portrait Paintings

A brief history:

Creating an Academic portrait painting using the academic approach takes time, usually requiring a number of sittings. Cézanne, on one extreme, could take over 100 sittings for each portrait whilst Goya would require just one day from the sitter. In the 18th century the process took considerable time and would take around a year for delivery of a finished portrait painting to the client. Historically a preliminary foundation of monochrome was laid in over the whole surface except for areas left for the highlights, and colours were then added using glazes, gradually building up toward the final effect.

The Academic Portrait process:

Working in layers is the traditional process for oil paintings that take more than one session, allowing for each layer of oil paint to completely dry before the next layer is applied. The first layer is usually a ground, used to prime the surface. Then an under-drawing in outline is created followed by the under-painting and then the over-painting.
 It is a logical step-by-step process designed to help the artist make more educated guesses as he progresses through the painting. The aim is to focus on one element at a time. The academic portrait painting is classed as the highest form of Academic art, it’s the most difficult of all the disciplines to master.

Commissioning an Academic Portrait Painting:

For academic portrait paintings I like to meet the sitter for an informal preliminary discussion on what is required. You will need to consider the function, spirit, and mood of the portrait, as well as its size and the position it will hang. This will help us decide the outfit for the sitter, the location, and the price of the portrait painting. I require just one sitting either at my art studio or on location for approximately 2 hours. During this time I will take reference photographs and create preliminary sketches and drawings. I then produce a study in oil on canvas for approval and meet with you once again to make any small changes and decide upon the final portrait composition. I will then begin work on your final portrait painting, which can take from 3 to 12 months to create.

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