Commissions

As a commission portrait artist I guarantee a high quality oil painting for you and your loved ones to cherish for years to come. Whether you would like a portrait of yourself, your family, your partner, your children, or even your pets I am available and look forward to working with you!

Prices vary according to the size of the canvas, as well as the number of subjects in the composition. I work from photos or from life. Please keep in mind that the subject is required to sit or stand still for long durations of time when working with life. With photos I am able to work from a picture given to me, or I am happy to take reference photos of my own. An additional charge for travel expenses apply for clients beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. I require a third of the total listed price as a non-refundable deposit at the start of all commissions. The remaining balance is due upon completion of the painting. There are two main styles that I offer as a commission portrait artist:

Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Grisaille

Pronounced “Gre-zai,” these paintings are monochromatic pieces that are usually done in sepia tones or shades of grey. This beautiful technique was developed from classical realism. Mainly used as an underpainting for putting color on top, grisaille paintings were also used as a way to create the illusion of sculpture or relief on the canvas. There is a great amount of expression found within these pieces, and though there is a lack of color, these pieces still contain my signature style.

Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Traditional Portrait

These paintings come in full color and are highly rendered pieces. Portraiture is a discipline that takes a great amount of skill and time to complete, and I have had years of experience working as a commission portrait artist. I approach these paintings to not only resemble the subject but to also contain the feel of who the person is. Traditionally these pieces were done while the subject would sit for the artist. The length of time varied with the particular working methods of the painter. Working this way is a great experience but requires a time commitment from the client. It is for this reason that I also work from photographs, as stated previously. Whatever your level of time commitment is, I am more than happy to work with you in order to guarantee a fulfilling experience.

Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings

Please keep in mind that all listed prices are for a single individual in the composition. Feel free to inquire about prices for multiple people in the painting, as well as larger canvas sizes. I generally suggest for smaller sizes to keep the composition focused on the head and some shoulders. Larger sizes can feature more of the body and even full body compositions for the largest size options. There is also a cost for the canvas, some materials, and, when applicable, shipping and handling fees. This can vary anywhere from $25 to $1,000 depending on the chosen size and where the painting needs to be shipped. Paintings are done on high quality stretched 12 ounce cotton canvas or fine grade stretched Belgian linen. Framing costs are extra.

How I Approach Portraiture as a Commission Portrait Artist
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings
Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings

I approach each painting in stages as you can see in the example provided. The initial sketch and first stages are done relatively quickly. At this point I am capturing the subject's physical features in it's totality and making sure the proportions are correct. Working quickly also serves as infusing the oil painting with energy. At this point the initial underpainting may not be one hundred percent accurate, but I find that working this way is paramount in capturing the physical and energetic feel of the subject. With the following stages I begin adding details, honing in on the most important qualities I'd like to bring out of the subject. At these stages, I also make sure the subject naturally sits in the painting by developing the background whether it's in a certain setting or whether it's atmospheric. At this point I make sure that the proportions and features are correct. Since I quickly go through the first few stages, the painting can go through dramatic changes. It is through years of study and experience that enables me to see the differences between my painting and the subject. It is not solely an intellectual process, but this stage is when I use my intellect the most. I still check in with how the painting feels in general, but these academic parts of art becomes very useful in order to capture likeness. The final stages are where I fully render the areas that are crucial to the person in the painting. It is here that I make sure that the expression in the eyes and mouth, the shape of the nose, and the features of the face are where the viewer will first look. After that, if these elements are in the painting, I render the hands carefully as well, and then pay attention to details in clothing and bring out important elements in the background.

Depending on the size of the piece, and what type of composition, a painting can take anywhere from a month to a year. Please keep in mind that oil painting takes a significant amount of time to completely dry. This is also factored into the amount of time it takes to complete a painting. I am fully able to do rush orders and once a painting is dry to the touch it will be ready to ship. But please plan ahead when possible.

Professional artist, Calvin Lai, is a commission portrait artist who creates high quality oil paintings

Being a commission portrait artist has been a great honor for me in my career as a professional artist. I am always humbled by the reaction of my clients and their loved ones upon seeing the final product. It is a great feeling to emulate the essence of a person through the wonderful medium of oil paints. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions. I look forward to creating a memorable, one of a kind, work of art for you and your loved ones to enjoy for years to come!

calvin@calvinlaiart.com, 510-229-7672

Commissions Gallery

© 2017 by Calvin Lai