Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions not covered on this page, please don’t hesitate to ask me by email, or give me a call on 01974 282 776


What's the best way to order?

If you live within range of me (I cover parts of mid Wales, the West Midlands and East Midlands), you can book me to come and visit you. Even better, you can come to me where I have good facilities for taking photos onsite.  I can show you samples of work and frames, get to know my subject, and take photos. My paintings always come out better if I've been able to take my own photos because I've been involved right from the start, and I know what I'm looking for when I take the pictures. I will then email you the photos or send you a set of prints or a CD ROM (yours to keep) from which you choose your favourite.  I take a 50% deposit of the total fee at the time of my visit. The balance is payable when you receive the painting.


How much does the photography service cost?

This service costs 75 plus travel if you are opting for a Sketch Portrait. For all other portraits, I consider it essential to take my own pictures, so it's included in the quoted price.


Any tips on preparing my animal for the photo session?

Give them a good brush before I arrive, and please make sure they have a dry coat. If you can have an assistant handy it will help enormously. I take all my pictures using daylight, so if you can think of a good place outdoors where they will be alert but comfortable, that's useful. It doesn’t have to be anywhere picturesque. Please bear in mind the session will have to be rescheduled if the weather is bad - it's worth waiting for good light.  I do have studio lighting at home so the weather won’t affect us if you’re coming here, though at present this facility is not large enough to accommodate horses.


Can you give me some advice on taking my own photos?

Yes, lots! I've written a separate page on this topic, click here to read it.


Why aren't my photos good enough for a pastel?

Very often, what makes a great photo isn’t the same as what makes a great reference for a painting.  After years of using my own photography, I know how to record exactly the right visual information about my sitter to create the best possible realistic artwork.  I also make important notes about colour and markings which could potentially register differently on a photo. But more important than that, I find it makes a huge difference if I have the chance to meet and interact with them - although it may only be for a short time I take a lot of that away with me and put it all into my work.


I would like a portrait of my dog who passed away last year. Unfortunately the photos I have of him aren't very clear. Can you use them?

I can always do something, even if it's a miniature sketch. The best thing is if you can let me see the photos you have (several if possible), and I can advise you of the best option(s).


A professional photographer took a really good shot of my horse at a show. Can you use it for a portrait?

You need to obtain permission from the photographer: not to do so would be a breach of copyright. In my experience they rarely object, but be prepared to pay a small fee.


Any other advice for customers ordering by post?

It's invaluable with any portrait where I'm unable to meet my subject, if you can tell me a little about their character. This helps me to build up the 'bigger picture' which is what puts something extra into the portrait and makes it more than a mere copy of a photo. Also, if you're able to, it's a huge help to send me your negatives or uncompressed digital image file so I can hand print enlargements to work from, and get the most accurate colour and detail. You have my assurance that I will treat your treasured photos and negatives with the utmost care and they will be returned to you safely when the portrait is finished. It's advisable for you to send negatives to me by recorded delivery.


How long does it take you to do a portrait?

They vary a lot - I can finish the small sketches in a day but most commissions take around 3-8 full days' work. The prices are a good guide to this, as I have worked them out according to how many hours I expect to spend on a particular type of painting. I only work on one painting at a time, and I like to knuckle down and get totally absorbed in it for long periods.


How long will I have to wait for my commission?

Most portraits are completed within twelve weeks, but please check with me first if you need one at short notice, particularly towards Christmas. You will be advised of the expected delivery date with your order confirmation.


How will my portrait be delivered?

If you live locally to me, I will probably bring it directly to you myself, or you may collect it from the studio. For customers further afield, I usually use the Post Office's Special Delivery service, which guarantees next-day delivery and enables me to insure work against damage (fortunately very rare). For larger portraits I use a range of couriers.


What are the frames like?

I use top quality mouldings, and all styles are fitted with bevel cut window mounts and glass (or perspex glazing if I'm posting). I choose styles and colours to enhance the portrait, and each frame is made specifically for each painting. If you have any particular preferences, please consult me before I start work on your commission.  Many people leave it to me to choose a frame that suits the portrait, but it can be helpful if I know what the environment is like where the picture will be hung, so I can ensure it fits in with your style and colour scheme.


Why are your portraits sometimes odd sizes?

I prefer to be flexible enough to compose each picture to its best advantage. This sometimes means I will adapt a size quoted as 12x8" to 11x9", or maybe to a longer format for a multiple portrait, so it could be 14x6".


Could I have a larger portrait than your price list shows?

By all means - the price list is merely based on the most popular sizes, and I could easily give you a quote for a larger portrait, likewise for in-between sizes. I’m only limited by the size of the paper I can get to paint upon!


Do you still own the copyright of a portrait I have commissioned?

Yes, copyright ownership is very important to artists, just as it is to authors and musicians. It means that no-one except myself may publish or reproduce any work I have done in any way, unless they have my specific written permission. It does not prevent you from reselling the portrait, not that you'd want to!


Can I pay for a portrait by credit card?

Yes, I accept payments via PayPal which includes bank transfer or credit card.  If you’d like to use this method, please email me first so I can send you an invoice. I do prefer cash or cheques where possible as paypal imposes a heavy charge on transactions.


I'm ready to send you an order, what's your address?

That’s great!  I’m at Llethr Villa, Ysbyty Ystwyth, Ystrad Meurig, Dyfed SY25 6DE. Please remember to enclose a 50% deposit (cheques payable to Mary Herbert), and send precious photographs and negatives by recorded delivery. Please read through my Terms & Conditions before you place the order

 I look forward to hearing from you


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