Commission a Portrait

Shane McDonald unveils a corporate portrait painting

Shane McDonald unveils a portrait of Dean Sowell at Kennesaw State University's Wellstar College of Health and Human Services.

The tradition of fine art portrait painting is a special service providing enduring enjoyment to the families of loved ones depicted in the resulting artwork. Shane McDonald has trained for more than 25 years in this discipline creating memorable, masterfully crafted images using oils and other media.

Permanently capture your unique loved one, adored leader, or yourself with an irreplaceable portrait painting! Start a family tradition and forever preserve your memories of a treasured time in your life in a striking work of art.

How does Shane create a likeness?

Reference from Life: The subject poses live in Shane's studio or at the home/office of the subject. Shane either develops a detailed drawing using charcoals to construct a reference that is later used for a final work of art, or he works directly on the final portrait substrate. This decision is usually determined by the scale and complexity of the portrait composition.

Reference from Photographs: Shane can take the photographs he needs for your portrait painting. Shane can also work from the reference of your photographs if the subject is not available.

Reference from both Life and Photos: Working from both life and photos allows Shane to get to know subject so he can paint the true essence of the person.

What materials does Shane employ in his fine art portraits?

Shane McDonald works mostly in oils, charcoals, and pastels; however he has experimented with many other media

Oil paint matures to a film of dried oil and pigment. Colors can be easily blended because the paint dries slowly. It is versatile because it can be applied in thin transparent layers as well as thick opaque layers.

Acrylic polymer emulsion is a water-soluble paint when wet and a flexible, waterproof, non-yellowing film when dry. Developed and refined since the 1950’s, it shares the same versatility as oils except that it dries much faster and mixes with water instead of oil.

Watercolor pigments are bound with water-soluble mediums that act as a vehicle for the pigment to flow. The paint does not dry to a film as do other wet mediums, which allows transparent layered effects. It will dilute with water even when the paint dries.

Pencil lead is made from graphite, a plate-like crystal of carbon formed from earth’s heat and pressure.

Charcoal is made from carbonized willow wood that is kiln-fired in an air-tight fashion.

Pastel is a dry powdered pigment molded into a crayon shape with binding solution. The word pastel is derived from the paste made by grinding the pigment and liquid binding solution. When properly framed and displayed, pastel is among the most permanent of all media.


Prices start at a few hundred and range to thousands of dollars depending on the amount of the body included in the pictorial composition with consideration of detail and the size of the final artwork.
The chart below lists prices of the most common sizes of portrait artwork. The list is provided as an initial guideline and is not meant to create any limitations on compositional possibilities.

Price List

Monochrome media on paper (pencil, conte, or charcoals)

 One PersonEach Additional
Head sketch from 1-hour life sitting $100 N/A
recommended sizes 8" X 10" to 11" X 14"
Head & Chest (Bust)$200$200
recommended sizes 8" X 10" to 16" X 20"
1/2 to 3/4 Figure$600$450
recommended sizes 18" X 24" to 20" X 24"
Full Length of Body$900$600
recommended sizes 22" X 28" to 30" X 40"

Pastels on paper

 One PersonEach Additional
Head sketch from 2-hour life sitting $200 N/A
recommended sizes 8" X 10" to 11" X 14"
Head & Chest (Bust)$450$1300
recommended sizes 8" X 10" to 16" X 20"
1/2 to 3/4 Figure$1300$700
recommended sizes 18" X 24" to 20" X 24"
Full Length of Body$1800$900
recommended sizes 22" X 28" to 30" X 40"

Oils on stretched canvas, linen, or wood panel

 One PersonEach Additional
Head sketch from 3-hour life sitting $400 N/A
recommended sizes 8" X 10" to 12" X 16"
Head & Chest (Bust)$1900$600
recommended sizes 9" X 12" to 20" X 24"
1/2 to 3/4 Figure$5500$1500
recommended sizes 22" X 28" to 30" X 40"
Full Length of Body$8000$2300
recommended sizes 30" X 40" to 40" X 60"

Discounts: 20% discount for each additional artwork included in same commission invoice. (Perhaps you would like to have your children painted separately. The discount applies to each additional portrait on the same invoice.)

Other Uncommon Expenses: Prices do not include the cost of expenses such as framing, shipping or any necessary long-distance travel. Payment for these expenses will be agreed upon in advance.

Terms of Sale: An estimate specifying the commission total, delivery time, payment schedule, and any necessary expenses will be agreed upon prior to the first sitting or photography shoot. A 30% non-refundable down payment is due at the beginning with the balance due upon completion of the portrait.

Nomenclature used for Pricing Portraits

Vignette Bust:
the look of a head study - sometimes stylistically revealing the raw painting surface in the background
Head & Chest:
the subject's head, shoulder, and upper chest without hands showing
1/2 to 3/4 Figure:
a seated or standing pose from head to belly or head to thigh with hands showing
Full Length:
seated or standing pose from head to toe


Contact Shane McDonald Studios to setup a meeting or conference call to discuss your desires for the portrait.

Next Steps

Discussion: Contact Shane McDonald Studios to setup a meeting or conference call to discuss your desires for the portrait. To discuss subject matter, size, prices, and medium to be used, you are cordially invited to visit Shane's studio or to meet at your place of choice. There are several options to consider, including size of the artwork, the setting in which the subject will be depicted, discounts for additional subject matter, and special requests. The following topics will also be discussed:

  • Subject matter (who will be in the painting and in what setting)
  • Location artwork will be hung (size, style, color scheme)
  • Time schedule
  • References (Working from life, photographs, or both)
  • Photography Shoot
  • Color Sketch for approval of design
  • Price (any travel fees, any photography fees, down payment)

Proposal: After the discussion, Shane will supply a written proposal iterating the mutually agreed desires for the portrait as well as the monetary and procedure terms for the commission.

Initial Sitting and/or Exchange of References and Down Payment: Shane will set up an initial sitting and photography session. A quick live sketch may be produced at the initial sitting to confirm the discussion of the portrait composition. The sketch also serves as an opportunity for Shane to interact with the subject(s). Sometimes non-copyrighted images such as snapshots or videos may be used as reference—especially if the subject is not available. A down payment is required prior to any travel by Shane, or at the initial sitting if local. (If photographs are being supplied for reference, the deposit should be submitted with the photographs.)

Confirmation of Compositional Studies: After returning to the studio, Shane may complete any compositional studies needed for confirmation of the proposed contract. Mutually agreeable adjustments may be made at that time to suit the patron.

Painting Process: Shane welcomes comments by the subject or patron while the portrait is being created. Since paintings are usually completed over time, visits to Shane's studio may be scheduled periodically. Digital photographs of the portrait's progress may be e-mailed upon request.

Completion and Payment: When the portrait is approved and complete, any previously undiscussed delivery or shipping plans will be made. Payment for the balance and shipping will be due prior to actual shipping (or upon delivery, if local).

Framing and Presentation: Upon request, Shane may assist in selecting suitable final framing or presentation materials to be purchased separately by the patron. Sometimes this assistance will be in the form of a meeting at a frame shop (if local), custom frame design by Shane, or a simple e-mailing of frame styles through online catalogs.

Other Considerations

Creation Time: The overall time to create a commissioned portrait ranges from a month to more than a year depending on the subject and Shane's schedule. Requests for special deadlines will be honored if at all possible.

Animals: Pets, horses, and other animals can be incorporated into compositions. Such living creatures often contribute to a human portrait's vitality, and Shane loves to portray animals just as well as humans.

Special Requests: Backgrounds of special places, still-life memorabilia, and architecture can be worked into the compositions. The subjects can be arranged in a setting capturing a moment of action in something that Shane calls a genre painting. Mural-sized works can also be created.

Contemporary Sizes: Odd-sized compositions may be created to meet your space needs or to suit your aesthetic taste. For instance, an extremely long painting or drawing around twice its width can be quite striking and create a sense of strength and stability. An artwork twice as wide as it is high can create a tranquil feel. A square composition can create a sense of order.

Subject Depiction Size: Most portrait compositions incorporate the subject 65% - 100% of life size. Portrayals slightly larger than life can create a perception of the subject's grandness. For example, most of our White House Presidential portraits are painted slightly larger than life.

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