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Portraits and Portrait Commission Fees


Sunday Afternoon Portraits by Santoleri
Sunday Afternoon 2010 Acrylic by Nick Santoleri

feather earrings Santoleri
Feather Earrings 2010 by Nick Santoleri

Portraits have always amazed me in their ability to immortalizes a soul.  Unlike a photograph that eventually ages and falls apart, a portrait is ageless, lasting  hundreds of years. I have great respect for the work of John Singer Sargent and Thomas Eakins and likewise, I’ve always admired Andrew Wyeth’s ability to transcend the medium. His mastery of egg temperas enabled the viewer to focus on the image rather than the medium. I try to keep this in mind when creating my own portraits using graphite, acrylic or oil.   


In my younger days, while attending the Malvern Retreat House, I recall seeing a portrait of an older woman. When viewing that same portrait in later years, I realized the woman in the picture was barely middle aged! The painting didn’t change.  My perception did.  I still enjoy seeing how other people interpret it.  Usually the younger viewers see an older woman, while people closer to my own age see a youthful girl.  As a result, when I create a portrait I try to bring that person alive in a way that a photograph cannot. When a photo is taken, only one moment is frozen.   When I’m doing a portrait however, I  spend time with the subject and learn about them.  This allows me to capture their essence, thus creating an element of timelessness in the final product.


Joe Frazier – Pencil Drawing by Nicholas Santoleri

Pencil Portrait of Joe Frazier by Nick Santoleri
Joe Frazier by Nick Santoleri

Many people don’t know it but Joe Frazier was the lead singer in a band. My cousin, John Gebhart, was the keyboardist and was a close friend of Joe’s.  Watching then world champion Joe Frazier fight two decades before, made watching him singing in a band with my cousin nothing less than surreal. In 2000 and 2001, he agreed to pose for me. I drew two pencil portraits of Joe and gave him his pick of the finished drawings. Joe chose a head and shoulders pose. I treasure the one that I kept, pictured here.

Joe Frazier and Nick Santoleri 01
Joe Frazier and Nick Santoleri at Joe’s gym in Philadelphia, PA
Joe Frazier and Nick Santoleri at a restaurant in Havertown, PA
Joe Frazier and Nick Santoleri at a restaurant in Havertown, PA

President Clinton – Oil Portrait by Nicholas Santoleri

President Clinton Oil Portrait by Nicholas Santoleri
President Clinton – by Nick Santoleri

In 1998 I met, photographed and painted President Bill Clinton at the dedication of The Thoreau Lyceum in Concord, MA . The original painting now hangs in the Thoreau Lyceum. Pictured on the right is a photograph of the oil portrait of Mr. Clinton. Below is a photograph of Bill Clinton and my Ex-wife, Fran Scholl. This was a difficult portrait to create as I only had a few moments to take photos and they were front lit. Although I would have preferred to take my time and set up the lighting, it was an honor. Thanks to the folks at the Walden Woods Project for this amazing opportunity.

Clinton and Fran
President Clinton and Fran Scholl

Pope Francis – Pencil Drawing by Nicholas Santoleri

Pope Francis Pencil Drawing by Nick Santoleri 2015
Pope Francis by Nick Santoleri 2015
Pope Francis in Rome In Progress by Nicholas Santoleri
Pope Francis in Rome (in Progress) by Nick Santoleri
"Dreadlocks" Acrylic Painting 2015 - Portraits by Santoleri
Dreadlocks Acrylic Painting on Panel 2015 by Nick Santoleri

How to Commission a Portrait

Portrait Fees and Requirements

Ideally :

  1. I meet with the portrait subject and take photos in a few different lighting conditions. We talk about the needs and wants of the client and I draw a few sketches and/or make notes for future reference. A one third deposit is required at this time, and a contract is signed.
  2. The second meeting may occur on the same day or on another date. It may consists of photographing the subject in a variety of outfits, settings, and poses. At this sitting, more quick sketches of the subject are normally drawn for reference. This takes approximately one to two hours.
  3. Next, a small preliminary sketch followed by a full-sized preliminary drawing of the portrait is done. These are presented to the client for approval and/or adjustments. Upon approval, these are used to begin the actual painting. Several live sittings are preferred if schedules permit, but at least one final sitting is may be needed for any minor adjustment, correction, and completion of the desired expression of the portrait.
  4. After the final sitting and acceptance of the portrait, payment of the remaining balance on the contract is due.
  5. The cost and selection of the frame is separate from the portrait. Framing recommendations can be given upon request.
  6. Travel, mileage, shipping, and other associated expenses are additional. These are itemized and billed separately from the portrait.
  7. On rare occasions, surcharges may apply for multiple people in the portraits or complicated backgrounds in the drawing or painted portrait.

Portrait Commission Fees

The prices below are for a detailed portrait painting or drawing. Please don’t confuse these for my simple sketches, that are usually just speculation pieces (drawn or painted). I also do less detailed sketches. For pricing on lesser detailed work, contact my studio. Thank you.

Portrait Size  (in inches) Pencil Drawing Oil or Acrylic PaintingWatercolor
Head and Shoulders (Small)
10  x 12$2,100.$3,150.Call Studio
Head and Shoulders
11  x  14  $2,250. $4,850. Call Studio
16  x  20 $4,675. $7,000.Call Studio
Half-Length   
20  x  24
22  x  28

$7,000.
$9,000.

$9,500.
$13,500.

Call Studio
3/4 Length
24  x  30  (Child)
28  x  36  (Adult)
$10,500.
$14,700.
$15,750.
$22,500.
Call Studio
Full-Length
30  x  40
36  x  48
$17,500.
$25,250.
$26,250.
$35,250.
Call Studio
The above prices are subject to change.
Call our studio for a current quote.

Also See:


Nick Santoleri ~ Artist  |   Pine Ridge Productions, Inc.
1515 West Chester Pike Unit A-6, West Chester, PA 19382
In Historic Chester County, Pennsylvania