Painting Commissioned Portraits

I do quite a few portraits on commission, so, obviously, I have to have an accurate likeness, first of all. But the other part, is that, because it’s for a client who doesn’t see it until I have already painted it, I have to make sure that they LIKE it! This one was kind of interesting, because the lady that commissioned it, wanted a portrait of herself, to give to her kids! I haven’t had to do one like that before, because the portraits that I have done on commission have either been pictures of dead loved ones (go figure!) or of kids. Female vanity, on the other hand, kind of made me nervous. So, I had the client come up to my place for a photo shoot, first. We took a ton of pictures, and then went through them together, until we chose her favourite image. Now here’s the kicker… I am personally, as vain as the next woman. If you think the profile portraits that I post are unretouched, then you obviously don’t live in the computer age and I must be the most secure woman in existence!

My dilemma… portrait photographers say that there is a thing called a “vanity scale”, where wedding and boudoir photos reside on one end, and truth lands on the other. Now, I have a personal addiction for painting “characters”, as truthfully as possible. So, for a commissioned painting of a woman… to soften, or not to soften? My final decision? Retain character, but gently…. was this the right decision? I guess I will find out when I deliver the piece!