Commissioned Portrait Painting

The portrait artist has a particularly hard job. Most people are unhappy with photos of themselves. On top of the challenge of making the subject happy with a good likeness, the portrait artist needs to make a good work of art. I’ve upped the ante by wanting to capture the soul and spirit of the subject’s inner workings. A soul-selfie if you will.

This endeavor is not for the faint of heart, but with the right frame of mind and lots of input from the subject, a unique and treasured heirloom painting can come to life.

In this portrait, my wife wanted her portrait centered around the powers of the four elements and her spirit animal by her side. The time of year represents her birthday month, November. She’s holding a large healing crystal.

The Healer Oil on Panel 40 x 30


Commissioned work is "my jam".

When a patron asked if I could paint a vision of the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken”, I was able to create this watercolor. It was given as a gift to someone who must have chosen the right path and had the poem to thank for it.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Commissioned work is always a dream.

There are some artists who work hard to stay away from constraints. I, on the other hand, have been embracing “the narrative” and whenever someone needs to see a vision come into reality, I am quite willing to take my artistic experience in their direction. In this series, you’ll see many works that began as someone else’s idea and they want to hire me to bring it to life. It began with book and magazine illustration and it developed through my 14 children’s books. These days, I’m taking on large painting commissions. I like to call them Empowerment Portraits. This first painting was created for a gentleman who wanted to me to commemorate how he likes to sail with his two dogs on Lake Winnipesaukee. Since there wasn’t a good resource photo available, I had to draft the specific brand of sailboat from scratch using many reference photos.

Underway with Dogs. Oil on Panel 30 x 48

Final challenge: I had to figure out a way to paint in the “stays” and “sheets” (thin wires and ropes) after the painting was practically complete. They had to look tight and not have variable thicknesses.

Final challenge: I had to figure out a way to paint in the “stays” and “sheets” (thin wires and ropes) after the painting was practically complete. They had to look tight and not have variable thicknesses.

Channelling Frederic Church's style

Every once in a while I get a specialized assignment. Last year, a coffee table book was designed to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Dartmouth College. One of the central pages in the book is this painting I was asked to paint in a Frederic Church painting style. Hudson River School best describes it. In this scene, when Dartmouth was only a 3 year old college, we see John Ledyard in May 1773 dropping out and heading down the Connecticut River in a dugout canoe he had fashioned himself. He was off to discover the world. He returned to Dartmouth after a life of adventure to write Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage. It was the first work to be protected by copyright in the United States. The original painting called “John Ledyard’s Departure” now hangs in the Baker Library at Dartmouth.


“I’m so pleased that you were able to pull this off, from start to finish. Thanks again for the nice work. You’ve made a rich contribution to Dartmouth’s heritage and its public art.” - Jim Collins

A tree commission!

In love with the light of Maxfield Parrish’s vibrant paintings, my patron wanted his own massive tree painting. This painting is 48 x 30 inches done with glazing techniques that were used by Parrish to create a luminosity not possible with opaque paint.