Portrait Commissions - Painted by David R. Darrow


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Intro | Beginning a Painting | Delivery | Acceptance of Final Art | Fees | Upgrades |
Sizes: Head Only | Head and Shoulders | 3/4 Length | Full-Length | Copyright

Discussion with the client is welcome and necessary throughout the portrait procedure. Of utmost importance is a trusting relationship between the painter and the client. It is in my clients' best interest to accept input and assistance in choosing the setting, wardrobe, pose and lighting for the subject of the painting.

It is not just how I place paint on canvas that makes me an artist. It is how I see, arrange, compose, and "feel about the subject" that are of equal, if not more, importance. I work carefully with you to ensure that your painting will be a true, classic portrait, that captures the likeness as well as the spirit of the subject.

Whenever possible, I prefer to spend some time merely chatting with and getting to know the subject for an hour or so before any sketching or photography is done. It is during this time, as well as throughout all interaction with the subject, that I am watching for "unintended revelations" — those moments when pretense is discarded and the soul comes to rest on the surface. These are the gestures, the expressions and the attitudes that I capture in my memory, to recreate on canvas a true likeness — a reflection of the person that is known, not just a correct arrangement of features.

For our first meeting, I schedule a sitting and/or photography session at your convenience. This first session or "sitting" can take place in my studio or at your home, office or other location, and will take from two to four hours. During this first session I may do a preliminary color study from life. Extensive photographic reference material is gathered to allow me to proceed in my studio after the sitting concludes. 

Source of Reference Photography

It is important to understand, that, except in the case of posthumous portraits, I do not work from photographs other than those shot by me. The way I photograph is guided by my sensitivities as a painter, and observer of people. I've have learned over time that here is no way to convey to another photographer what I need. It is purely a matter of instinct. I make no exceptions.

Photography Fees

In principle, I do not charge anything extra for the photo session, as that is part of the commission. If however the portrait commission is terminated, and my client wants the photographs, a fee of $75 is to be paid for time and materials, and the photographs will be delivered on a CD.

Otherwise, the only cost for photography would be travel expenses to locations farther than 50 miles from my studio. I am willing to travel round trip to any location worldwide at nothing more than the cost of my expenses plus a reasonable amount more for my time.


Back in my studio, I begin developing the portrait through drawings and color studies.

I prepare a sketches and/or a small preliminary study of the proposed portrait. The client and the subject are invited to comment on this preliminary, as, whenever possible, I e-mail pictures of the preliminary work for discussion.

With the client's full approval, I begin the final painting on the finest portrait-grade, acrylic-primed, Belgian linen. I use only the finest professional brushes, paints, mediums and other materials available to assure your portrait will be archival, museum- or heirloom-quality

Delivery of the Final Work

When the painting is finished, I will deliver it personally or by insured carrier, crated for safe transport and delivery.

Delivery Schedule

Delivery usually takes between two weeks to two months depending on the portrait's size and complexity, and my fluid commission or gallery schedule. 

Viewing the painting for the first time

Abe Lincoln
as We Know Him
What Abe Saw
in the Mirror
It Can Be Alarming

Very important: Viewing a painted portrait for the first time — as I have witnessed many times in my career — can be "an alarming experience." What one is accustomed to seeing reflected in photography has now been interpreted by me, the painter, in brush strokes of varying angles, color, length, thickness, value, texture and placement — and other qualities too mysterious for words. This is the heart of impressionism.

Additionally there is the added fact that virtually everyone "knows their own face backwards." This is from almost exclusively seeing your own reflection in the mirror every day. It is how you know you, but not how others do, since no one has a perfectly symmetrical face. This is why, for example, you may not like a photograph of you that others tell you is very flattering.

In the example above, Abe Lincoln might not have thought that an exact likeness of him looked at all like what he was used to seeing in the mirror.

Therefore, what I deliver as "finished" is delivered under the following conditions:

In Other Words: it takes two weeks to "get used to it." Frankly, I will not pay much attention to criticism nor praise before two weeks have elapsed anyway.

Your satisfaction is what I demand for myself

If after two weeks you are not satisfied, any adjustments necessary will be readily apparent, and quickly changeable due to the clarity achieved in the display period.


Fees are subject to change

Fees are good for 30 days from any contracted commission. Fees are locked at current rates upon 50% downpayment.

A 1/2 deposit of the total portrait fee is required to start the portrait procedure.

The balance, including all additional expenses (framing, travel, crating, shipping and handling, applicable sales tax, etc.) is due COD — upon delivery of the portrait. Invoice provided.


The prices listed below are for my intuitive style of portrait painting, where backgrounds are usually painted impressionistically, or somewhat abstract and painterly. On occasion, the setting into which the final painting will be hung suggests a more realistic background.

Where the background in the painting is requested to be realistic, add 75% of the listed price (or simply multiply the price by 1.75).

Head Only (Quick, impressionistic portrait, abstract background)

  • No realistic backrounds
  • Loose interpretation of neck and collar area

5 x 7 thru 16 x 20

$600 3000
Head and Shoulders (Bust)
  • does not include hands
  • may include room elements, painted loose/impressionistic
  • realistic background add 75% more
  • inclusion of hands, add %50 more

11 x 14 thru 28 x 36

$1800 6000
3/4 Length Portrait
  • includes hands
  • impressionistic background
  • add 60% more for realistic backgrounds
28 x 36 thru 40 x 60
$7100 16,500
up to $18,000
Full Length, Life Size or Larger Portrait
to large format, multiple subjects
  • impressionistic background
  • add 60% for realistic backgrounds

Full Length/Full-Size

$20,000 – 85,000
Special & Group Projects
Will Discuss


Copyright is retained by David R. Darrow in all artistic works. Client may request a no-publish status for a small additional fee.

Unlimited North American Reproduction Rights available for up to an additional 100% of portrait price.