HEIRLOOM PORTRAITS OF HORSES & PETS by equine Artist Melissa V Gates
Visit my Horse Portraits or Pet Portraits galleries to see examples of commissioned portraits of horses, dogs and cats I’ve had to pleasure to create over the past three decades. For over 35 years, I have been blessed to merge my passion for horses and pets in creating commissioned portraits of horses, pets and “their people.” Capturing that unique relationship between people and their companion animals is a welcome challenge, as I seek to portray the unique personality of your horse or pet on paper or canvas. In paying attention to the details as I develop your portrait, the result is an everlasting memento of your special bond.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT PAINTING A HORSE PORTRAIT?
Horses and pets have such Character - with a capital "C" ... it is vital to capture that on the canvas. Whenever possible, I like to meet the horse or the pet ... photos can tell you only just "so much." I like to observe the interaction between the horse, the pet and "their people."
“I took a photo of my four mares and I the day before Christmas. On Christmas Day I lost my chestnut "Miss D.” Six months later, my white mare "Texas Star" left to join her at the rainbow bridge. Heart broken, that next Christmas I asked Melissa Gates to bring all four of my girls together in one painting. Melissa did an outstanding job capturing each of their individual personalities & likeness. The sky is dark on the right to depict the passing of Star & Miss D, and is brighter behind Stormburst & Lass , who are still with me. I truly cherish this wonderful painting Not a day goes by that I don't stop to look at it with fondness & loving memories. Thank You Melissa, your God Given talent gives so much love and joy that your brushes touch. " — M. Bass
“I commissioned Melissa to paint our English Spaniel as a birthday gift for my husband. Luke is Cliff’s favorite dog ever - and Melissa captured his innate hunter spirit perfectly. Cliff was so enamored with the painting because it reminds him every day of the their outings - Luke is poised and ready to jump at their prey at his master’s command.” — A. Vrielink
“My precious kitten, Snap, was ready to jump into my arms when I took this photo — Melissa captured his sweet spirit perfectly in this colorful pastel painting, and it is a keepsake that I’ll keep forever.” — C. Grinestaff
“These are my two boys! They never seem to be still at the same time they’re together … but Melissa captured their individual personalities from two separate photos and put them together in a beautiful composition. I will treasure this portrait for many years to come.”— J. Mathiessen
“My husband surprised me with this commissioned portrait of my sweet old friend, Brat. Melissa captured the close and loving gesture that is so typical of Brat as he nuzzles me just to say hello in his own way.” R. Spear
THE COMMISSIONING PROCESS: STEP-BY-STEP DETAILS
Let's begin the process of commissioning your artwork! Here's how take photos, how to send them to me & more details. Please feel free to email me any time and include photos of your horse or your pet .. with or without”their people” for a commissioned drawing or a painting.
Delivery Time Frame: After you send me the completed Portrait Commission Order Form, I will get back to you within five (5) business days to discuss the order details and will also provide to you a completed Commission Agreement based on our discussion. Please Allow twelve (12) weeks from acceptance of commission order and signed Commission Agreement to the completion of your portrait.
First decide … do you want a finished piece of artwork that is Black and White or in color?
Then decide … what kind of material do you want to have your artwork created on?
- Black and White Graphite Pencil drawings as well as Colored Pencil drawings are created from your photos on acid free illustration board, paper, or matt board.
- Pastel Paintings are created on quality, acid free, pastel paper or board.
- Oil Paintings are created on your choice of stretched canvas, canvas panels or wood panels.
3) What Subject(s)?
Standard portrait pricing includes one single subject. If you envision a portrait that includes more than one subject, for example, two horses, or a horse plus “their person,” that is fine, and can be done for a nominal additional fee of 25% for each additional subject.
Is there a special saddle blanket or bridle that you’d like included? Just let me know, and take some great photos of the subject(s) on the horse.
Typically, portraits will be created with a solid neutral background that complements the colors used in painting the subject. If you would like a special background color or something different please let me know and we can discuss your creative idea. If you would like the background that is in the photo, please add a 25% fee.
4) What Size? Plan for Where the Portrait will be Hung in your Home or Office
While planning the perfect place to hang your portrait, be sure to allow for extra measurements to include the matting and frame, especially if you are planning a wide, decorative frame for the portrait.
You may select from the following standard sizes for your portrait … these sizes are for the final artwork, not matted, before framing.
Oil or Pastel painting: 8”x10” 9”x12” 11” x 14” 12” x 16” 16” x 20” or 18” x 24”
Graphite or Color Pencil: 8”x10” 9”x12” 11” x 14” 12” x 16”
5) The Subject Matter: Take Great Photos!
Since I typically will not have the opportunity to meet your horse or your pet in person, I will work from your provided photos. These photos must best reflect aspects of your horse or pet’s personality. All photos must clearly show adequate detail, especially in the subject’s faces. The pose and likeness of the subject(s) must reflect how you would like the completed portrait to look.
Certain things can be switched out, so you may send more than one photo with notes about what you would like and communicate clearly what you want to see in the final portrait. For example - use a different saddle pad, portray a certain expression on the face from one photo but try to use a different body pose from another photo.
I will strive to depict your horse or your pet as accurately as possible with a hint toward his or her personality, as we will see from your photos.
I will need to view and approve your photo(s) before accepting the commission.
Questions? Email me any time: email@example.com.
Please see my Photography Tips (scroll down) on how to take a good photo of your horse or pet.
6) Technical Tips: How to send me your photos
6a) Electronically Via Email:
Ideally, please send your scanned or digital photos to me via email which is the preferred way to receive them. Do not reduce the file size of the photos — they should be 300dpi .jpg photos. This file size provides the highest clarity of resolution so I can see tiny details. Please email - ONE OR TWO PHOTOS only in an email (so we don’t “choke” our email systems) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6b) Hard Copy Via Mail: If sending hard copy photos by mail, UPS Or FedEx: Please send copied prints of your photos in case they get lost in the mail or they should somehow become damaged during the commission process. Mail to: Melissa Gates Fine Art, 2205 Avenue I, suite 117, Rosenberg, TX 77471.
7) Complete the Commission Order Form and include your 50% down payment
7a) Online via Email: You may send the completed Commission Order Form to me as an attachment via email - along with your reference photos (as 300 dpi jpgs) to:
email@example.com ... and use my PayPal account to use your credit card for the 50% down payment.
7b) hard copy via US Mail: You may send the completed Commission Order Form - along with your hard copy reference photos (see notes below- do not send originals!) -- as well as your 50% deposit in the form of a check, cashier’s check or money order to: Melissa Gates Art Studio, 2205 Avenue I, suite 117, Rosenberg, TX 77471.
8) Phone Call Input Session & Commission Agreement
Allow 5 working days after your payment has been processed for me to contact you by phone, so that we can discuss the details of your commission and both be on the same page as to what you are expecting the final portrait to look like, in terms of size, materials, subject matter and other details.
After our call, I’ll send you a completed Commission Agreement that includes the details based upon our discussion, a final price for the portrait, an expected time frame for you to see the Proof Copy of your Portrait, and the cost to ship the final portrait to you to meet the delivery time frame.
9) Allow Four to Six Weeks for Delivery of Your Sketch
After about four to six weeks from the date we sign the Commission Agreement, I will send you an email or hard copy sketch that shows layout/subject positioning and background contents for your approval. I'll contact you within 5 days of sending the sketch to allow you time to review and approve the Sketch, and we'll discuss the details to move forward at that time.
10) Allow twelve weeks to receive your initial Proof
Upon receipt of the initial proof, I’d like for you to review and contact me to communicate any“tweaks” that need to occur (up to three different revisions) If there is a major revision that is required, I may do one additional proof for your approval. If no revisions are needed, please send the remaining balance due on the portrait including the quoted amount for shipping.
If the portrait is a gift or is needed to be delivered by a specific date, please indicate that on the Commission Order Form.
11) Enjoy Your Heirloom Portrait
(… and I hope you’ll send me a note, as so many of my clients have, to let me know how you like your portrait!)
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR PORTRAIT COMMISSION
#1 rule: be patient and get the photo you want!
#2 rule: take lots of photos and select the best ones. Take several close-up views.
-- Include Head AND chest in the photo.
-- Use a camera with a telephoto lens to get the correct perspective.
-- Position yourself/the camera a sufficient distance away from the subject to get the correct perspective
-- I’d prefer not to receive photos from cell phones … the file size is typically too small and many critical details are not captured. However, please feel free to send cell phone photos as an additional reference only. However, if you can get a high resolution photo from it such as iPhone 7 camera) exceptions can be made.
-- Get eye-level or shoulder-to-shoulder with your horse or pet rather than aiming your camera up or down at them.
-- Many times, a side or 3/4 view of the head is aesthetically more pleasing in portraiture.
-- Talk to your horse or pet. Try holding a mirror up to get them to perk up their ears and look into the camera if possible.
-- Pay attention to the stance and positioning of the legs to ensure that you have all four legs visible in the photo.
-- Pay attention to the background while taking the photo
-- Get creative. Try several poses and various lighting options.
-- Use a natural light source, ideally outside. Slightly cloudy days are perfect for photos.
-- Don’t take the photo in the brightest sunlight — the "golden hours" are ideal - mid morning and mid to late afternoon. Avoid “high noon” as the colors in your photo will be faded.
-- Place your horse or pet under a canopy or other semi-shaded area.
-- If you must shoot inside, capture natural light by posing your horse or pet near a door or window to let some natural light in.
-- Never use a camera flash - it will cast a harsh shadow and also is distracting to your horse or pet, can make them blink or jump. It will also reflect in their eyes and we won’t be able to see the true color of their eyes.
-- Digital photo file must be high-resolution (300 dpi) .jpg
-- Send me several hand-picked photos … AND I’d love it if you would include notes that tell me “why” you selected each one. For example: “I love the way he raises one eyebrow - it’s like he’s winking at me.”
COMMISSION PRICING (subject to change)
These prices reflect the inclusion of one subject only in the portrait, whether it be horse, another pet or “their person.”
For each additional subject to be included in the portrait, the following additional rates apply:
— Additional Subjects: add +25% for each additional horse, pet or person
— Additional background: add 25% fee
8”x10” Graphite (B/W) or Color Pencil $450
8”x10” Color (Pastel/Oil) $600
9”x12” Graphite (B/W) or Color Pencil $550
9”x12” Color (Pastel/Oil) $700
11”x14” Graphite (B/W) or Color Pencil $650
11”x14” Color (Pastel/Oil) $800
12 x16” Graphite (B/W) or Color Pencil $750
12”x16” Color (Pastel/Oil) $900
16”x20” Color (Pastel/Oil) $1,100
18”x24” Color (Pastel/Oil)$1,400
DEPOSIT AND PAYMENTS PROCESS
A 50% deposit of the total amount is required at time of placing the order. Framing and Shipping are not included in these costs.
You may make your payment either by check, cashier’s check or money order if by mail. You may make your payment using most credit cards thru my PayPal account on my mgatesfineart.com website (it is not necessary for you to have your own PayPal account to use this method).
Once I have received your completed Commission Order Form, I will call you to discuss the creative process and flush out the details, and then I will send you a signed Commission Agreement.
The remaining balance will be due prior to delivery unless otherwise specified in our Commission Agreement.