The human form and creating a likeness is a challenge to most artist. The medium used for the painting, the lighting, capturing a likeness of the person are all factors that must be considered to have a successful painting. I like to go beyond this and look for the thing that makes them unique or could be called their personality. When doing a commissioned portrait in watercolor or oil I use only high quality, high pigmented paint and high quality supports. For watercolor I use pure rag paper in either 140lb. or 300lb. paper and for oils I use either a heavy cotton or linen with professional bracing.
Painting with a live model is the ideal but when a client is not available or is a young child or deceased I rely on photos. Sometime the client has a favorite picture which can be combined with other photos or props or pieces of clothing to achieve the painting they want. At the first meeting with the client I do some sketches and discuss ideas and give suggestions for the painting. I take photos when necessary and discuss clothing if they are not wearing what is wanted in the painting. From this I do a drawing or color sketch in the medium to be used and meet with the client again so any problems can be discussed before the painting begins. Depending on the size of the painting I usually allow 3 months to a year depending on the medium used and the size of the painting.