Oil Portraits

Classically painted oil portraits are one of the biggest challenges for an artist. Not only does a piece have to be painted well in terms of composition, use of color, and brushwork, but it also has to unmistakeably look like that person as well as capture their personality. I think this growing collection of completed portraits will demonstrate my ability to do that. Get in touch if you would like see the reference photos (usually taken by me) that I worked from in order to see the faithfulness in capturing the subject. To discuss a possible commission, email at karlericleitzel@gmail.com or call at 814-422-8461.

Currently available portraits

Associate Member - Oil Painters of America
Member - Portrait Society of America



Oil portrait by Karl Eric Leitzel

Marcy With the Pearl Earring
Oil on canvas, 24x18 inches

This painting, clearly designed to evoke Vermeer's famous painting, is based on a young woman I know personally. After noticing the remarkable resemblance at a family picnic, we arranged a photo session in which we strongly suggested Vermeer's work through clothing, pose, and lighting, while still using modern clothes to avoid drifting into cliche.

Oil portrait by Karl Eric Leitzel

Oil on canvas, 24x18 inches

This one is very special to me, as it is our first (so far only) grandchild, captured at 14 months. In this case I was able to take the reference photos myself, which is my preferred method of working when possible.


Portrait painting by Karl Eric Leitzel

Bob Isenberg (commission)
Oil on canvas, 24x18 inches

This commissioned piece was painted posthumously for his wife. Luckily, she was able to find several very good photographs from recent travels that I was able to work from. Interesting lighting as well as clarity of details are essential for the reference photos.


Portrait of Parker Hayes by Karl Eric Leitzel

"Parker Hayes" (commission)
Oil on canvas board, 11x14 inches

This portrait was done for the family posthumously. We had to find all the best family photos and work with several different references to create this piece.

Painting of Christine Smith by Karl Eric Leitzel

Nell Hanssen on Stage
Oil on canvas, 16x16 inches

As a musician myself, I love to paint other musicians creating their music, but painting someone pursuing their own passion - riding a horse, tying a fly or fishing, working in their woodshop - are also great ways to approach a portrait.

Portrait by Karl Eric Leitzel

Gus on Fiddle
Oil on canvas board, 12x9 inches
2013 (SOLD)

A smaller painting can also be effective as well as less expensive, with the understanding that the smaller size will mean a less detailed interpretation. Again, my being able to take the photos, as well as knowing the subject personally, are helpful.

Oil Portrait Pricing and Process

2015 price range for oil on canvas/linen portraits. Includes photography session and most frame choices. Complex props, pets, or expensive framing will move the price toward the upper range. Otherwise, expect a price quote near the lower end. After completion of the original portrait, giclee prints on canvas can be done at a much lower cost for additional family members or others. These giclees typically run $60-120 each before framing, depending on size. They look very much like the original painting and can be framed in the same way.

Vignettes, less finished other than the face:

12x9 inch canvas  $500-700

16x12  $800-1100

Head and shoulders:

16x12  $1000-1400

20x16  $1300-1800

24x18 or 24x20  $1600-2400

30x24 (adult only)  $2400-3600

One-half or three-quarter length:

24x18 or 24x20 (young child only)   $1800-2600

30x24   $2700-4000

40x30   $3400-5000 (adult/teen only)

Full length:

48x36 and up  $4500-7000 and up

Note: Looser, more expressionistic portraits, in either oils or acrylics, are less time intensive and mahy be substantially lower in price at a given size.


The Process

After first discussing the commission and agreeing to a size, price, and design approach, we would set up a photo session of the subject. This session allows me to get to know the subject and get a feel for subtle aspects of their appearance and personality as well as get plenty of photos with the detail and lighting I need. In cases where this is not possible, I would look at available photographs and decide whether they are suitable as working references. The quality of photo reference is critical to painting a high quality portrait. After the session, I would choose several photos that could work well for me as a main reference and have you decide which you like the best. I would then be ready to begin as my schedule permits. A portrait from beginning to end can take as little as one month if there is no schedule backlog, but that will not always be possible. The alkyd oils I use are faster drying than traditional oils, but just as high quality, and this helps speed up the process. When I feel that I've finished the portrait to my satisfaction, I would have you either view it in person or through emailed high-resolution images to make sure you are satisfied before final varnishing and framing.

I normally expect payment of 20% upon agreement on the details of the commission, another 20% after the photo session and followup decisions, and the final 60% plus sales tax upon completion of the portrait.



Acrylic Portraits

Portrait of Miss Melanie by Karl Eric Leitzel

Miss Melanie Morrison and Mark Ross
Acrylic on canvas, 30x30 inches

Painting of Chris Hersch by Karl Eric Leitzel

A Man and His Tele' (Chris Hersch of
Girls, Guns, and Glory)
Acrylic on canvas, 36x18 inches
2012 (SOLD)







Contact the artist at karlericleitzel@gmail.com

page last updated 1/1/2015