How to commission a painted portrait, Stephen Martyn Welch

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We have recently welcomed award-winning portraiture artist Stephen Martyn Welch to our stable of artists. Stephen paints figurative works of his own volition but more commonly is commissioned to paint portraits of clients loved ones.

In a world that seems to be so focused on the instant gratification of the ‘selfie’, I started to ponder on why someone would commission a painting when cameras are such a part of our daily lives and images of our family and friends so readily available to us. I asked Stephen a few questions about commissioning a painted portrait, read on to see what he said.

In your experience why do people decide to commission a painted portrait?

In my experience the reason why people get a painted portrait is unique. From a family member expressing their pride in their loved ones. A board showing their appreciation for distinguished service. An athlete reaching the pinnacle of their sport. A celebration is a strong focus for portraiture but also loss. Holding onto a connection of a loved one, keeping memories alive for future generations before they are gone. Don’t leave it too late because when they are gone they are gone.

You have a unique talent of capturing someone’s personality on canvas, what do you attribute that to?

It’s having everything in perspective. When you meet someone and you shake their hand for the first time, you have no perspective. So how much do you know about them?
By spending time, be it a few hours or a few days this helps me understand the sitters.
Instead of taking their photos and leaving with a likeness, by spending time and knowing things about them ie: like their favourite colour, their first car, their wife’s name, her dads’ name, along with their likes and dislikes and their opinions not only can I get a likeness but I also get an understanding of their essence. And this is having perspective.

How does the process work?

I travel to all my sitters, ideally spending from a few hours to a few days depending. Gaining perspective and an understanding of their essence. In this time wardrobe, 
composition, setting, style of painting and size are discussed. A photo
session and if time allows a few prelim sketches. Back to the studio, depending
on size and style 6 months is average delivery but this will be 
discussed in further detail.

How should a client decide which artist is right for them?

Well… I’m biased but in reality, if a painting strikes you, speaks to you, captivates you in some way I would suggest looking at the artist’s portfolio of work over the previous 5 years. Do they consistently show you the same quality? Do your homework, and see if the work is solid over the years, if you love the style and direction- chances are you’re going to end up with something you’d never regret investing in, something you want to look at every day.

Wellington Boys Club, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 1864 x 1220mm
Wellington Boys Club, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 1864 x 1220mm