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THE PORTRAIT PROCESS: From Blank Canvas to Finished Legacy

"My intent with each portrait is to make the process enjoyable for my clients. The approach I take accommodates busy schedules and special requests. A portrait is a fascinating journey that is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The painting becomes part of the subject's history, as well as reflecting it."
- Ernie Norcia

Initial Discussion and Sitting:

The portrait process begins with a meeting between the artist and the client to determine the spirit, setting, size, and any special considerations of the painting. Lighting, wardrobe, figure placement, color, gesture, and expressive content are also discussed at this point. When these key elements are decided upon, preliminary drawings are made of the subject to determine the general visual form the painting will take. Since children sometimes find it difficult to pose and adults often have very busy schedules, photographic reference material is generated at this stage. This reference captures fleeting expressions and allows progress to continue in the studio after the initial sitting.

The Study:

A small color study for the finished art is prepared by the artist. The client is asked to make comments on the preliminary efforts before work on the final painting begins.

The Studio and the Portrait:

The finest Belgian linen, primed in France, is stretched to the proper portrait size. The painting process begins with a drawing on the primed linen surface. Next, color is applied and manipulated to establish the sense of light and shade necessary to the painting. The primary subject, along with all the secondary elements are brought along together in subdued colors to prepare a solid painterly foundation for later stages. In a technique that is centuries old, many layers of thin oil paint are glazed and scumbled over the foundation image to achieve the subtle depths of rich coloring that will compliment and bring to life the portrait subject. At this point in the process, the artist brings the painting as near to completion as possible in his studio. The final sitting is now scheduled in order to refine various aspects of the painting and bring it into visual balance with the subject of the portrait. If desired, framing options are discussed.

The Final Sitting:

The final sitting takes place at the artist's studio, the sitter's location, or another mutually agreed upon location. If the frame is ready, the finishing touches are applied to the painting while in the frame. The painting is now finished and ready for presentation.

Commissioned Drawings:

The procedure for drawings is a shorter one. After the initial meeting to determine details of the work, a sitting is scheduled and photography is done, if needed. Sketches are worked up into the finished art in the selected medium. A final sitting takes place for any necessary refinements, and the drawing is delivered.

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