Commissioning a House Portrait

Own a watercolor painting of your property, created from your own photographs. Provide color photos and also include any special instructions or preferences, such as seasonal changes, day/night reversal, holiday decorations.
Photo shoots for sites local to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts can be done by the artist.

The painting is then yours to do any number of things, such as:

Frame, hang and enjoy;
Scan into your own software program and create your own personal notepaper, cards, stationery;
Have printed onto a needlepoint or embroidery canvas;
Bring to any print shop, which can then scan the painting and assist you in designing professional stationery, business cards, novelty items (tee shirts, mugs, wine labels).

Prices of my house portraits have ranged from $650 to over $2000, depending upon the size of the painting, complexity of the structure and also number of buildings involved. The prices listed below are the starting point if the property is very complicated or the actual price if not. A visit to the property and/or photos will determine the final price.

Painting Size   Starting Price
12 x 16                 $700
12 x 18                 $775
12 x 30                 $850
18 x 24                 $950
20 x 28               $1100
24 x 30               $1200
26 x 38               $1400
30 x 36               $1750

Visit the House Portrait Slide Show for ideas on perspective and season for your own personal painting. And also read information below for more suggestions and details.

The Process
 
1) Photos and Sketches
     Most of the time I visit the property myself and take many photos, walk all around the yard, study the architecture, neighborhood, shrubs and landscaping. I often do some sketching on-site as well. And I sometimes return for 2-3 visits to make sure I’m capturing it exactly right. However, I have also painted homes when all I had was a couple of old sepia photos because the home no longer existed. If I cannot get to the property, I will request lots of photos sent and ask many questions about the home and surroundings. I like to feel like I have been there.

2) The Drawing/Design Phase
     Often folks have a good idea of the particular view of the home they are interested in; but if not, that’s ok, too. Based upon the photos and sketches, I will then do a more detailed drawing (sometimes many) that more fully captures the view and perspective that is most appealing. I can move buildings and trees, change seasons, times of day/night. The design phase often takes longer than doing the actual painting because there is a lot to discuss and decide. You are very much involved in this process.

3) The Painting Phase
     Once all decisions have been made (view, size, what to leave in, what to leave out, season, time of day, etc) then I paint. Only very minor changes can happen in this phase, which is why it is so important to be totally happy with the design phase. Once I begin to paint, it usually doesn’t take any longer than a week. As with so many other things in life, the real work is in the preparation. When done correctly, that is why the results are so pleasing.

The Usual Questions

1) What does it cost?  That depends. There’s a starting price for each size. If the house is very complicated, and/or there are many out-buildings, or other complicated designs to be incorporated, then the price will be adjusted. You will always know the final price before you commit.
Payments  – Usually a small deposit is made up front.  Once the drawing/design phase is completed and the decision is made to start the painting, 50% of the price is then paid. The remainder is due when the painting is complete, you see the scan and you are totally happy with it.

2) What does the price include?
     Original watercolor painting on heavy archival watercolor paper (NOT matted or framed); 
     One signed fine art reproduction on 13” x 19” paper (more can be ordered at a very reasonable price);
     Photo shoot (if local to the Berkshires);
     CD with the painting image in multiple formats for your personal use;
     One fine art notecard;
     Certificate of Authenticity;
     Permission to reproduce for your own use.

3) How long does it take from start to finish? Often the entire process is completed within a month. A lot depends on how quickly you make decisions, and also how busy I am. I’ve never missed a deadline, and will make sure you have your painting for your important event.

4) How far will you travel to do a photo shoot?  Local to the Berkshires is automatically included in the price; beyond that, if driving distance, we will figure out the extra cost based upon mileage. Otherwise, I will have you send photos and I can explain what I need. It works out fine.

5) Can I add in some “extra” things in the painting? Of course, I personalize paintings all the time…pets, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmen…but you have to provide me with the reference shots for the specific items. There is no extra charge for this unless they are very complicated and time consuming  – hasn’t been an issue yet.

6) I just put in new shrubbery… can it be mature in the painting? As long as you can give me an idea  what they should look like with a few years growth.

7) How do you change seasons? If I only see the property in, say winter or summer, and you want autumn, I will ask lots of questions about the types of trees and colors of the foliage. Older photos help but are not critical as long as you can describe the colors. I often refer to botanical, gardening and tree books when painting trees and shrubs.

8) I want to give a house portrait as a gift but I’m afraid I will pick out the wrong scene/season/view. Give a gift certificate. Besides the recipient ending up with exactly what he/she wants, they go through the fun of planning it … and it really is a pleasurable journey and a very personal and thoughtful gift.  I make up a lovely gift certificate, include info about the process, a little about the artist, and how to reach me to begin.

9) Where do I have it framed?  There are many excellent framers in this area who are expert in helping you select the perfect framing treatment for your painting.