Paley’s Portrait: Chapter 1 “The Search”

Paley's "5th Birthday" Portrait by Andrew Hem

Paley's "5th Birthday" Portrait by Andrew Hem

For those of you who don’t know, for the past 6 years we have been commissioning portraits of our eldest daughter for her birthday, you can view all of portraits at this URL.

The first step in getting the portrait off the ground, is the search for the right artist.  After her last birthday, I keep my eye out for artists who tickle my art fancy. This year I found several dozens of artists who are completely brilliant. Sadly not all of them do portraits and while I love keeping with an artists aesthetic, some are just to out there for a kids portrait. Then there are the artists I found to late and the commission fees range from $5,000 to $20,000.

My only criteria for choosing the artist is that Clem and I have to like the artist. Some times one of us will love them and the other are just okay with there work. No matter what, so far our expectations have been spot on when the artist does their piece. Then there is the area of the search and decision process of what works for this age. When your child is younger it’s hard to use artists who might be dark or abstract but those artists are easy to use as they get older. Then there are artists who’s subject matter might be a little racy. Case in point was Dave McDowell’s “4th Birthday” portrait of Paley. We love the racy nature of his artwork and we hoped some of the twisted would have actually snuck into the piece. Sadly he wanted to keep it PC for some reason. I think what we learned from working with Dave is to keep our mouths shut. I think some of our direction was a little relevant in the final product. We learned then, tell the artist to go with and don’t edit the piece to make it PC. 

Not everyone was a fan of Paley’s 5 year portrait by Andrew Hem. In the end all that matters is that Clem and I love the piece. This years list was 8 artists that we have fallen in love or collect over the past few years. We wanted to use the artist who did the twins 1 year but I had found a new artist who said “yes” right away. We couldn’t pass this artist up because I think they’ll take off fast in the next year or two. There is something to say about finding an artist before they reach there prime. Of coarse it’s easier on the wallet but to watch them evolve from the piece they created for you is such an amazing adventure. Of coarse we plan on going back to Kelly for sure. Once we have chosen the artist we begin the artist process.

Next Up: Chapter 2 - The Artist Process