Paley’s Portrait: Chapter 2 “The Artist Process”

Paley's "4th Birthday" Portrait by Dave MacDowell

Paley's "4th Birthday" Portrait by Dave MacDowell

We begin the artist process by providing photos of the kids to artist. Every year we hire a photographer to take photos of the family for our holiday portrait. During that photo session I have Paley change clothes to take separate portraits for her birthday. We weed through the photos and find several unique shots to give to the artist. Typically most artists work with photos, rather than a sitting in person. Plus, try getting a 5 year old to sit for over an hour.

Most artists will ask you to take a look at there work and tell them which pieces really speak to you for the portrait. For Paley’s 6th portrait we choose the artist because of a piece he did for a group themed show based on the book “The Great Gatsby”. Basically the artist will ask for direction but we have learned to tell the artist we want them to keep with their aesthetic. The artist will then take a couple of weeks to come up with a sketch of the piece before they start to paint or work with a medium. Typically we don’t ask to change anything major on the sketch, there are maybe tiny details that make it less like Paley.

For example for the 5yr. portrait had some paint speckling on her face but the speckling wasn’t on other parts of her body. This year we only made on slight change with Paley’s mouth. The artist wanted to paint it shut to fit the overall look, sadly we only provided photos of her mouth open. So I took two quick photos of her mouth closed and emailed them off to the artist. Overall nothing major has been changed for this years portrait.

Time wise the artist process can last between 1-2 months depending on the artists work load. I try to give the artist at least 3 months before I need it physically in my hands. I’ve been using the portrait as the artwork for the kids birthday invites for the past 5 years. Sadly I waited too long for the twins first portrait and while the artist produced the painting in less than a month, I had to use the sketch for the invite. Which was a nice change for once…….

Shipping can take some time once the piece is done. The artist like to wait at least a week before shipping to wait for the varnish or paint to dry. Shipping in the past has been from a week to 4 weeks depending the location of the artist. We’ve worked with artists in South America and even out to Bangkok and Taiwan. No matter how long the wait, opening each of them is truly a moment to remember.

Next Up: Chapter 3 - The Reveal