Leslie Ficcaglia - Minnamuska Creek Studio - Portraits ina Natural Setting
Leslie Ficcaglia Portrait Gallery- Portrait Process and Fees

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The Portrait Process

Initial Phases

     A portrait is a work of art depicting one or more individuals, often within a meaningful setting which reflects something of their personalities and lives. The artist does not embark upon this mission lightly, and it is important for all parties to feel comfortable with the entire process. Once the decision is made to commission a portrait, Ficcaglia attempts to spend time with the subjects, to learn characteristic movements and expressions. She also discusses the practical details: what the painting will include, how much of the subject will be portrayed, what sort of setting is desired, what clothing should be worn, what hairstyles - if that is an option, where the finished work will hang, whether vertical or horizontal format is preferred, and what size the picture will be. These issues are often explored at the same time the artist meets with the client to take the reference photos which will be used as a basis for the portrait.

Selecting the Reference Photographs

     Immediately after the photo session, the images are loaded on a laptop computer and studied to make a decision about which picture(s) reflect the desired facial expressions and which represent the pose and the background the client and artist agree upon. At this point a sense of the finished painting should emerge. During the process it is important to keep in mind that the final work should represent not only a good likeness of the subject(s) and a portrayal of his or her personality, but also an appealing work of art in its own right, and therefore the artist maintains the option of guiding which images are selected for the portrait.

The Finished Painting

The photography session may occur a month or more before the portrait is begun due to a number of factors. Especially where the subject is a child, the parent or grandparent may wish the painting to depict a specific stage which may be fleeting; in other instances, the client may wish to have a specific season reflected both in the subject's clothing and in the background. Therefore reference photographs can be completed ahead of time to take such preferences into account. In cases in which there is a significant lapse of time between the photographic session and the beginning of the painting itself, the client will be notified when work is to start. The actual painting time may take from four to ten weeks or more, depending on its size and complexity. 
     When the initial "blocking in" phase is completed, the artist sends the client the link to a preview web page so that the general composition and appearance of the work can be approved. As color is added and the portrait continues to develop, the client will be notified when changes are made and new images are uploaded to the preview page. A visit to the studio may also be arranged if the client would like to see the painting in progress. When the work is almost complete the client is invited to view it, and following that visit any minor adjustments to the painting can be made.
     Full payment is due when the clients accept the painting. The painting goes home with the clients and they have one week to live with it. If any minor changes are requested at this point, the artist will attempt to accommodate them so long as the integrity of the work is not affected. Also, while the client has physical possession of the work of art, the artist retains all copyrights to the painting, as well as all rights of reproduction in any form.

A Portrait in Progress

     Below are the stages in a painting, from the first "brown phase" in which the composition is blocked in using thinned raw umber oils, to the addition of colors, to the finished piece. Especially when taking reference photos of children it's difficult to have one picture include both a pose and an expression which captures the essence of the child. Here the body, beach, toy sailboat and bucket are from one photo, the face from another, and the background is from a third.

  Process Stage 1
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  Process - progress
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  Final painting
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Portrait Price Schedule


  • 16 X 20 $1000 (head and shoulders only)
  • 16 X 20 $1250
  • 18 X 24 $1600
  • 20 X 30 $2200
  • 24 X 30 $2400

Additional Charges

  • 50% for each additional subject (including animals).
  • 25% for hands and body rather than head and shoulders alone.
  • $200.00+ for complex clothing, adornments, or uniforms.
  • $50.00 to $1,000 for background other than a solid or shaded backdrop, depending on the complexity and size of the painting.

Please note that artwork is also subject to 7% New Jersey sales tax.

Additional Services

Framing may also be an option. Archival quality giclées (prints) of the work can be obtained from the artist at $25 for 8x10's, $40 for 11x14's (sizes are approximate and depend on the dimensions of the work).


Complete payment is expected upon acceptance of the work. Upon completion, the client has one week to return the portrait for minor changes.


Ficcaglia’s work consistently receives accolades from a variety of sources. Here are some reactions to her web gallery from other artists:

  • “What magnificent portraits! Your work is alive with spirit! They are almost 'Rockwell-ish' in their warm portrayal of humanity.”

  • “I just had the opportunity today to look at your portraits and love them. They are so dynamic. Some of the best I have ever seen. I usually find portraits stiff and formal. These are alive. The environmental backgrounds really bring the personalities to the forefront.”

  • “Your website is gorgeous! I love the first portrait. Really incredible work! I've never quite clicked with the concept of portraiture, but that first picture explains something new; it’s not about vanity; it's about identity. What a break-through for me, so thank you!

For more information, please email portraits@leslieficcaglia.org or write to:

Leslie M. Ficcaglia
Minnamuska Creek Studio Box 27
Port Elizabeth, New Jersey 08348

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The original oil paintings on this website were all created and copyrighted by Leslie M. Ficcaglia at portraits@leslieficcaglia.org. Use of these images or their reproduction by any other individual or organization is strictly prohibited.

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