Known for their realistic skin tones and lifelike quality, Cassidy’s portraits have a genuineness of expression and personality that most artists miss. Cassidy also paints horses, pets, landscapes, seascapes, still lifes and genre scenes and accepts commissions in all these categories.
In over thirty years as a professional artist she has been represented by many galleries and won numerous awards, including Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Medal of Honor. When not creating portraits, Cassidy enjoys cutting silhouettes (miniature paper profiles) from life or from photos, as commissions or at parties.
Q – What is the first step?
A – Call or email me to discuss exactly what kind of portrait you want. Some of the things we consider are the number of subjects in the portrait, where the portrait will hang, what style of clothes the subject(s) will wear, and what your budget is. There are a number of factors that affect the design of the painting and these are thoroughly discussed. If it is a more complicated portrait, we can meet in person for further discussion.
Q – What is a casual portrait?
A – The poses and settings are more relaxed than in a traditional portrait. For example, the background might be a park or garden; the subjects are dressed casually; they might be looking at each other or engaging in some activity or hobby. The casual portrait is ideal for families to express their warmth and love.
Q – How can we be certain we will like the portrait?
A – The biggest problem in painting portraits has always been to portray just the right expression. When a portrait is done from life, unfortunate expressions often occur in the long posing process, which are picked up by the artist, who, after all, paints what she sees. This will spoil the entire portrait. Using photographic reference allows you to choose the pose and expression before the first drop of paint touches the canvas, thus eliminating 90% of the problems found in portraiture. For multiple image portraits or any complicated design, I may want to make a preliminary drawing and send a scan of it to you so you can check the composition and be certain we agree on the overall look. If there are major color changes I will send a scan of a small color sketch, too. This clear communication between artist and client assures that the portrait will be as requested. I am also willing to make small adjustments on the final portrait, per your request, so that you are completely satisfied.
Q – What if we don’t have our own photographs?
A – I can take photographs for you for major oil portrait commissions at your place of residence. You may also arrange to come to my home/studio in Aurora, Illinois, if you prefer. I generally charge for my photographic services on any portrait commission under $1,000. (These photographs are for reference only and should not be confused with photographs made as a stand-alone end product.) . If you are further away than 25 miles, there may be a small trip fee added.
Q – When should we use our own photographs?
A – Many times a person is not available, such as when planning a memorial portrait, or when the painting is to be a surprise. Sometimes a person is just plain hard to photograph. Children can be tricky, so I often use the client’s own snapshots. For dogs, cats and horses I also request that you provide photographs. Sometimes there is one special snapshot with a perfect expression that was a lucky accident and that’s the one you really want to make a painting of. That’s fine! Even so, it helps to provide several shots and together we will choose the best one for the pose and expression and use the others for reference to hair, eyes, skintones, clothes, jewelry, eyeglasses and general understanding of the likeness and personality. These photos should be as clear, sharp and large as possible, but the expression is still the most important factor in the choice of photo. In the case of someone who has passed away, I realize you may not have ideal photos to work with. I have extensive experience working from less-than-ideal pictures for posthumous portraits. In this case, I will ask for your patience and your feedback to adjust the painting as necessary in order to produce the best possible portrait from the material available. (Please see the personal story in the section on Testimonials.)
Q – Can you combine people from different photographs?
A – Yes, possibly. The lighting and point of view often differ from one photograph to the next, so it can be tricky. Ultimately, it depends on what is available and how well they combine. For posthumous portraits I do my very best to make the two photos work together.
Q – Does it cost more for more than one person in the portrait?
A – Yes. Each face that I paint is charged, though not at the same rate. Please refer to Pricing.
Q – Can you include my pet in the portrait?
A – Possibly. If your dog, cat, bird, etc. is well behaved, I may be able to include him/her when I am photographing you. Photos can be mixed & matched within the same session if they have the same lighting and point of view. If the animal will not cooperate, it may be possible to work with your own snapshot, but since the lighting and point of view often differ from the person’s, I often recommend in this case portraying the pet separately. There is a small extra charge for the animal, depending on the size of the painting and how much of the animal is included.