What is graphite?
A: Graphite is a pure form of the same material from which pencils are made.
It is one of the most permanent substances known to exist. It is one of the
constituents of diamonds. It will never fade or discolor, and although it can
be erased, it is otherwise a completely permanent medium.
Q: What is handmade paper?
A: Handmade paper is the paper that I use for my drawings. It is made by
Fabriano, the oldest paper-making mill in continuous operation in Europe, which
has been making paper since 1276, shortly after Marco Polo discovered it and
brought its secret back to Europe from China. (The Chinese have been making
paper for about 2000 years, since it was invented by Ts'ai Lun about A.D.105,
and there are writings that still exist on paper made in China from that time.)
The paper is handmade from cotton and linen rags by artisans in Italy. This
paper-maker made paper that was used by Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da
Vinci, many of whose drawings are still in good condition today, more than 400
years later. The paper is acid-free and will last more than 300 years with
Q: Why should I commission a graphite portrait?
A: This, of course, is a personal decision. However, there are several
reasons that come to mind. Firstly, I have found that a lot of people are
uncomfortable with a large oil painting of themselves or their loved ones. A
graphite portrait is less overbearing and grandiose, and more in keeping with
the times in which we live, whilst still being a fine artistic representation of
the subject or subjects. It is also easy to reproduce, should you wish to give
copies of the portrait to others.
Secondly, the materials that I use, contrary to popular belief, are extremely
permanent (see above.)
Thirdly, I believe that my ability to catch the likeness, character, personality
and "soul" of each person that I draw is unmatched by any other artist
doing portraits today.
However, your decision as to whether or not to commission my work is a purely
personal one and if your heart is set on another medium or artist, then that is
what you should do.
Q: Why don't you paint oil portraits?
A: I developed a severe allergy to oil paints in the early 1970s.
I was always a good draughtsman (I won a prestigious prize for my
drawing at the age of 13 from the Royal Drawing Society), and I always have
liked the mystery of black and white photos and films, for instance, rather than
color. So I decided to make portrait drawings only, rather than oil paintings for the last 25 years or so.
Q: How long does a sitting take?
A: I take my own photographs. This takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Sometimes it
can be less than this; for instance, Henry Kissinger could only spare 20
minutes for his portrait.
Q: Why don't you work from life?
A: I used to do portraits from life for several years but I no longer do so
because 1) I work very slowly, and I like to work very late at night. 2)
People rarely have enough time to sit for the required length of time,
nowadays. 3) When you are forced to sit still for a long time (unless you are
a professional model) you tend to find it very trying and end up looking like
a "still life" rather than a real person. 4) Children, who are often the
subjects of my portraits, simply cannot sit still at all, for any length of
Q: If you take photos, can I see them before
A: No. I spend a long time looking at the photos I take with a view to
deciding which are the most suitable for me to use and I rarely, if ever, work
from just one pose or photo. If I am unhappy with the photos I have taken, I
will re-do the sitting. (This very rarely happens.)
Q: Can you work from existing photos?
A: No, I like to meet the subject and take my own photos. The exception, of
course, is when I'm asked to do a posthumous portrait, which I have
undertaken successfully on several occasions.
Q: How long does it take to do a portrait?
A: I spend between 4 to 5 weeks on each portrait commission.
Q: How long does it take to get the finished
A: It can take from 1 to 6 months to get the finished portrait, depending
on the amount of work I have on hand. This should be borne in mind if a
specific date for the portrait to be finished (for birthdays, Christmas,
anniversaries, etc.) is required. I will always endeavor to have a portrait
finished in time for a special occasion.
Q: Do you do corporate portraits?
A: Yes. I have done several major corporate head's portraits as well as
portraits of royalty, prime ministers, politicians, doctors, headmasters, etc.
Q: What is the best age to do a child's
A: I have done children at all ages, from as young as 3 months to 18 years,
but I believe that from 2 to 7 is one of the best times to capture most
children's childish qualities. And perhaps again later, when they are 13 to15
Q: Is it better to do a group portrait or
A: That is a personal decision, but individual ones of children mean that
each child can have his or her own portrait when they become adults. However,
with modern wonders of printing technology, it is now possible to have
reproductions made of group portraits so that everyone can have a copy.
Q: Why do you charge so much for your work?
A: Because of the time it takes; because my work is in major
museums, including the National Portrait Galleries in London; and because of
the people whose portraits I have done in the past, such as Henry Kissinger,
the Pope, Golda Meir, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, to
name just a few. (See the complete list in my biography.)
Q: Is a deposit required?
A: Yes. A non-refundable 25% deposit is required in advance of all
portrait sittings, along with a simple, signed contract. (This is necessary to
guarantee that the portrait goes ahead, and I do not put aside time for a
portrait that is then cancelled.) A date is then mutually agreed upon when and
where the sitting will take place.At the time of the sitting a further 25%
payment is required. The remaining 50% is payable upon receipt of the finished
Q: Do you charge for travelling expenses?
A: Only if I am required to travel very long distances at short notice, and
if I am not doing any other sittings in your area. If I am doing more than
one portrait sitting in the area where the sitting will take place, and I can
make my own schedule, then usually not. You can, of course, come to my studio
for a sitting.
Q: What if I don't like the finished portrait?
A: This has actually rarely ever happened to me. People are nearly always
extremely happy with my work, evoking comments such as "I can't believe that
you captured me, my child(ren), or spouse, so well, etc." In the highly
unlikely event that you are unhappy and minor adjustments are needed to
satisfy you, they will be done. However, what I do is a work of art and
ultimately a personal interpretation. I cannot produce a work that is an
imaginary ideal of someone else. That's why you hire me to do a portrait. You're
paying for my artistic skill and my vision of you or your child. But I always want my clients to be happy with my
work. It is the best advertising I could possibly ever have, and it makes my
work worthwhile and rewarding for me as well.
Q: Do you ever accept payments over time?
A: Yes. Time payment arrangements can be made without interest. As each case
is different, please feel free to ask.