Frequently asked questions

So what exactly is involved in commissioning a portrait?

It's quite simple and can be approached in one of two ways. First, the subject sits for me, where I will generally make a start on the portrait but in consideration of the sitter's time, I take reference photographs so that I can finish the work later. A sitting can take about an hour or so, and should not be rushed.

The second option is for me to work entirely from a supplied photograph. This option works well if the subject lives a distance away; or if you already have a favourite photograph(s) in mind; or if you would like the portrait to be a surprise gift. This way of working remotely is also very Covid safe.

I think I’d like you to work from a supplied photo, but I’m undecided about exactly which one to use. What should I do?

I am more than happy to help you choose from your shortlisted images, and at least recommend which one I believe will work best as a painted portrait. Some clients leave the choice entirely up to me; others prefer to be presented with a shortlist of recommended compositions and crops to choose from.



How much do your portraits cost?

$100 for a small one (any edge up to 40.9cm)
$200 for a medium one (any edge 41cm to 89.9cm)
$300 for a large one (any edge 90cm to 102cm in stretched canvas; or up to 113cm in watercolour)

I have a range of stretched canvases and watercolour papers in stock that you’re welcome to choose from, and I can source additional sizes if need be. I can also work to larger custom sizes in stretched canvas, and can provide a quote for your specific dimensions if you have a particular piece of wall-space in mind. (Please note that if you would like a large-scale portrait in watercolour, the widest available size of watercolour paper is 1.13m x a roll length of some metres.)

How can I pay for my portrait?

Bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. Full receipts, as well as certificates of authenticity, are issued with every artwork, and you can also lay-by if you wish.

How long does the whole process take?

It can vary tremendously depending on circumstances. Please allow at least three to four weeks from the sitting (or from when you decide on your final image). A work of art cannot be rushed so it is best to allow as much time as possible. A lot of care will go in to your portrait, and my creative process does benefit from stepping back, pausing and revisiting the painting. If you plan to consider having it framed once finished, please allow additional time. I will always keep in close communication with you about its progress, and I will always deliver to your specified deadline if you have one.

What medium do you prefer to work in?

Acrylic paint on acid-free archival-quality canvas, or watercolour paint on acid-free archival-quality watercolour paper. I also work in pastels and, less so, in oil paint on canvas.

How will my painting be physically presented? Will it need framing? Do you do picture framing?

A stretched canvas is pre-stretched around a wooden frame and is considered 'gallery ready'. This means your painting will have straight, smooth, well-defined edges that look clean and neat when hung. Your portrait on canvas will come complete with wire fixed securely at the back, ready to hang. While you can always have your painting framed later on if you wish to, a stretched canvas does not strictly speaking require framing. Stretched canvases that are unframed are also lightweight, making them easy to handle when positioning, hanging, and rotating your art.

However, a painting on watercolour paper or pastel paper will need framing.

I don't do framing but I can recommend some if you don’t have a local picture framer.

So tell me about the framing of watercolour paintings.

The watercolour paper I use is archival quality, acid-free and needs to be protected under glass with professional picture framing. Please be aware that this is a separate stage in the process and would be an added cost (and time) to you. If you choose a watercolour portrait I would suggest you comfortably allow a minimum of three or four additional weeks to have your watercolour painting framed and ready for your gift-giving deadline, if there is one.

Pastel paintings also need to be framed under glass to protect the paintwork and the paper. Again, you'll need to factor this picture framing in to your overall project cost and your overall project timeline.

If you would like your portrait completed in the most cost-effective and timely way, I would suggest choosing acrylic on canvas as your medium, because it will be supplied to you ready to hang in the first instance.

Paintings framed under glass are much heavier than unframed stretched canvases, so remember to factor that in to your placement decisions, and the strength of hooks that you use.

Do you deliver?

Yes I can arrange delivery to most places around Melbourne or, if you prefer, you are welcome to collect your painting from my studio. We can also send it to you via post or courier.

Can I buy a gift voucher for someone so that they can decide on dimensions, medium, favourite photograph, etc?

Yes of course: vouchers come beautifully presented with no expiry date and can be gift-wrapped if you wish, free of charge.

How are you mitigating covid risks?

I observe mask-wearing, hand-hygiene, and social distancing practices. I isolate and get tested if symptomatic. Wherever possible, particularly if outbreaks, or high case numbers, are present in the community, I will recommend that we work remotely using source photographs rather than in-person sittings, so that the workflow remains contactless. Contactless payment and contactless delivery of my finished portraits are also the way to go.



How do I get in touch with you?

Send me an email, call or text the number below, or fill out the contact form here.

Email: info@nell-dewhirst.com

Tel. +61 (0)438 767 869