Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting ready for the Portrait Commission: Clothing

This is one of the most difficult aspects to the portrait. I have read about how John Singer Sargent used to spend a frantic hour rummaging through women's wardrobes and in a make-shift way put together the outfit for a painting...and request no opinions from the client! This is because for a painting to really sing, the clothes take a major role on the stage. They speak in so many ways and embellish and empower the artist to push the painting to where they wish it to go.

So what to do? I recommend the standard of having 3 outfits on hand. I have also gone through wardrobes, closets, drawers etc to find the treasured garment for a portrait. It feels brash, but that is how important it is...It is very difficult for the non-artist to understand what makes clothing work in a painting and it's hard to communicate, but I'll try:

1. Neckline: V-necks are very flattering to the face. Scarfs can be appealing, but watch they will not become dated.

2. Pattern: less is more

3. Fabric: something that has some shine will be nice for a formal painting

4. Color: this will greatly affect the mood of the painting.





Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Getting Ready for the Portrait Commission: Indoors or Outdoors Setting

This question tends to take a bit more thought. For example, one recent client originally was thinking outdoors, but chose indoors so the focal point would be on her children. Another one wanted the classic outdoor painting for their child outdoor with a pet.

One possibility is to start both as options and see which you prefer. I work from photographs, so if there is any consideration of both options, I take photographs both indoors and outdoors (whether permitting). This allows for the parent to see the difference and for me to discuss how the photos will translate to a painting.



Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Getting ready for the Commission: what age is best to paint a child, oil or pastel portrait

The next decision that a parent needs to make, if they choose individual portraits, is how old do they want their children to be when painted.

I have been painting several families child by child, as they become a certain age. I find that 4 years old is very popular for those with several children. The other very popular age is, of course, 18 year old. Most families who choose to have group portraits done have them done while the children are young, all in grade school or mostly if not all in high school.

I have painted a few middle schoolers too and they seem to capture a genuine quality of what is to come in the child. Before all that serious growing up...

So in short there is no perfect time, but rather how you best wish to have your child represented as the years go on...and speaking of which, once the children move on to college you will be so happy to have their painted presence in your home!



Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Getting ready for the Commission: Choosing a Group or Individual portraits for Family Commissions

One of the next decisions parents make when getting ready to commission portraits is whether to have their children painted together or separately. This is a very personal decision. A group portrait displays the bonds between the children and is endearing that respect. The children's relationships and personalities can be very evident.

The individual portrait is quieter by contrast and all eyes are on the individual.

The other aspect to this decision is how the painting will move through the family generations. Individual portraits can easily be passed on to the next generation.

One exciting option these days is that one can have a giclee made of the original painting and have that framed and given to the other siblings or all the siblings while the parents own the original.

I find that most families have a sense of what is best for their family and do not labor unduly over this decision.




Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Getting Ready for the Commission: Choosing Between Oil and Pastel Portraits

When beginning the commission process, there are a number of decisions the art buyer must consider. One of the first is the medium. Sometimes a family will have the tradition of pastel children's portraits, having themselves been painted in pastel and their parents as well, and wonder whether to switch to oil. It feels like a big decision and they are uncertain. Sometimes they really cannot discern the difference between the mediums. Here are my thoughts, after having been working with families for over 15 years.

Key points to consider:

1. Care: If you are meticulous about taking care of things, a pastel will be a good choice. Pastels really need to be kept away from humidity. They also need to be kept from bright light or they made fade. In addition they are more fragile, as they are framed in glass and are created on paper.

Having said that, Mary Cassatt's (1844-1926) pastels are legendary and have survived a hundred years. When I visited the Louvre I saw amazing pastels by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1704-1788) and the Jean Chardin.(1699-1779) There is something in the fragile nature of pastels that is extremely compelling as well! They are endearing and treasured—— but must be cared for as well.

2. Style of portrait: pastels are generally a vignette and slightly more sketchy in appearance. You'll see in oil portrait below, how I was able to recreate the "vignette" feel by painting on a toned canvas. I did this to match the look of pastels of family members from prior generations.

3. Cost: Generally framing will be higher for a pastel, so the price will be about the same for a framed pastel vs a framed oil.

Here are a few samples of my work in these mediums below. You can click the links below the images to go to my website for more samples of these types of works.


Oil Portrait: Maisie



Girl's oil portrait



Pastel Portrait: Bonnie



Girl's pastel portrait


Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Unveilings...Full Length Girl's Oil Portrait for family in the South



Katie Blair
28" x 40"
oil on linen

It was a joy to work on this painting of this little Southern Beauty. Capturing her charm in her dear gesture was my goal. Her parents were extremely pleased and I was very happy to be entrusted to paint their daughter. Photo supplied by the ever-talented Elizabeth Dondis of New Orleans.

Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Small Paintings from Life in Kennebunkport, Maine

Here are my paintings from last summer, which I'm finally posting. They were painted from life in the early hours of morning, my favorite time to paint outdoors. They were painted on board which is a departure from my usual custom and I enjoyed the challenge of capturing these little scenes quickly on the spot. Please click the titles (which link to my website) to learn more about these paintings.


Coastal Beauty
8 x 10
Oil on board
Please click title for more information.


Goose Rocks Beach Morning
9 x 12
Oil on board
Please click title for more information.


Lords Point Road Coastal
8 x 10
Oil on board
Please click title for more information.



Kennebunkport Coast
8 x 10
Oil on board
Please click title for more information.

Sonia Hale is an award-winning, nationally-collected artist in Boston. She paints commissioned portraits for families and institutions nationwide. Her original landscape and still life oil paintings can be purchased at http://www.soniahale.com. For more information, go to http://www.soniahale.com. You can reach her by email at soniahale1@gmail.com.