Portrait Painting Process


“I work a lot from life and am interested in the interaction between the artist and subject. This conversation, this give and take, this improvisation, this dance, is essential to my work. Whether working from photos or in person, I paint life.”  Maniscalco


Because each Maniscalco portrait is destined to become a precious heirloom, cherished for generations to come, Robert approaches each painting as a unique creative adventure. He prefers to get to know his clients before he commences work on the portrait. He works from a combination of life sittings and photographic studies which he takes himself whenever possible. He is also known for his mastery of the posthumous portrait (portraits created from existing photographs).

-> View more portraits by Robert Maniscalco

It is very important that the initial concept of the painting be developed as a collaboration. Robert encourages his clients to visualize the mood and setting of the portrait, it’s composition, what the subject will be wearing, the background, personal objects, where the painting will hang, the story we are telling and other conceptual elements. The more input at this stage the better.

At the photo session Robert’s gentle and caring approach helps his sitters feel relaxed and present. Robert believes an excellent portrait should tell the story of the sitter by the way they stand, the angle of their gaze, body rhythm, setting, lighting, expression. He combines elements from his photographic, compositional and color studies with the intuitive impressions of the sitter, revealing their unique personality.

Each stroke of paint is an artistic choice, imbued with the love, warmth and humanity of an exceptional artist. In this sense a Maniscalco portrait goes far beyond the limits of photography; each canvas stands alone as a rich, compelling work of art. To accomplish all this Robert travels to the sitter’s home, office or where ever the subject would like to be painted, to get a sense of the them in their own environment. During this session he takes a number of photos. He then goes back to his studio to work out the final composition and color scheme through a series of studies and sketches. The painting is developed in several stages. When it is nearly complete he returns to apply the finishing touches from life.

Timing is Everything

Maniscalco excepts a limited number of commissions per year. Although he has a waiting list he occasionally accepts requests to have the work finished for a particular occasion if adequate time is allowed to complete the painting according to his high standards of excellence.

Get Framed

Once the painting is complete it will be framed according to Manisclaco’s high design standards and specifications. The price of the frame is not included in the artist’s fee.

Get Going

A 50% deposit, along with all travel expenses, is accepted upon the commissioning of the portrait to secure a place in his docket. Final payment is due upon completion of the portrait.

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