Procedure for a Portrait by Betsy Kirk

When I began painting portraits, 30 years ago, I worked mainly from life, which meant many sittings. Over those years, my process has boiled down to two easy step:

  1. I take my own photos in natural light. Digital Photography has simplified this step. I review the photos and email my choices to parents for their approval. When we make the selections (often photos are combined), I make a Charcoal Drawing that is like my map of shadows and light.
  2. The child returns (with similar hair and the same clothing), for “color notes”. I re-create the lighting and position in the photo. With the child sitting not-so-still, I am able to observe the color information, skin tones, eye color, the colors of the shadow and light. I make very quick color marks on the drawing.

I later use the photos and color notes to complete the portrait. In my experience, Pastel Portraits are perfectly suited for wiggling young subjects. The look is fresh and lively.

I use the same process for Oil Portraits, by preparing my palette before the sitting. Sometimes I request an extra sitting for oils.

When necessary, a portrait can be completed from photos alone, either mine or those provided.

Animal Paintings, including Dog Portraits and Horse Portraits, are completed from photos that I take (at a mutually agreed upon site) or from photos that you provide.


Betsy Stone Kirk Portrait Studio
216 Blenheim Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
(410) 377-7530 - betsyskirk@msn.com

© Copyright 2017 Betsy Stone Kirk

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