Style and Composition

It is important that you choose an artist whose style you enjoy – there are as many ways of putting on the paint as there artists doing it, and drawing styles are as varied as handwriting.

Do you enjoy loose, impressionistic paint handling – the kind of painting that says it is a painting and not a photograph – or do you prefer a more blended, near photographic, look?

Speaker Gilbert Parent
(House of Commons)
oil on canvas
by David Goatley

Do you want to see detail in every part of the picture, or do you prefer to see it concentrated where it counts, so that the eye is in no doubt where the center of interest lies?

All professional portrait painters can paint a portrait set against a neutral color background, a simple field of color. Your choice of artist is wide if this look is what you are after. If you wanted to include interior furnishings, décor, or landscape, in the background of your portrait, how well does your artist paint those things?

A wealth of information can be implied by a skilled painter, without rendering every distracting detail, but perhaps that intense detailing is what you are after – look at what different artists bring to the backgrounds and settings of their portraits to find the approach that is right for you.

When choosing an artist whose style you like, be sure to look for consistency. Did the artist make one picture you loved, but quite a few that you are not so sure of? Or they hit it right time-after-time? If they did, they will likely get your project right too!

Remember, even a beginner might get lucky and paint one impressive picture, a true professional does so time and time again. Experience is invaluable.

Contemporary or traditional - if you had all the money in the world would you buy a Rembrandt or a Picasso? A Velasquez or a Warhol?  Is your home an ultra-modern steel and glass structure, a Boston Brownstone or a Kent Manor-house, and what type of painting will live well with it?

Below are some examples of different styles of portraiture, historical and modern.

Henry James
oil on linen
by John Singer Sargent

Lt. Governor James Dunsmuir
(posthumous portrait for Government House)
oil on linen by David Goatley

"My Husband"
pastel on pastel board
by/© Judy Carducci


Sarah M
oil on linen
by David Goatley

"Carnation Lily Lily Rose"
oil on linen
by John Singer Sargent

Dan Pellegrom, CEO
oil on linen
by David Goatley