While raising three children in a busy household that included several cats and dogs, any salvageable free time was devoted exclusively to my painting. At first I regretted not taking a direct route to become a practicing artist while still in college. Eventually this gave way to the realization that acquiring an MA in English literature may have been beneficial since certain analytical skills were sharpened along the way.

As time passed these skills would later become intuitively useful when painting any subject, whether people or animals, especially when studying people to produce a solid portrait that would express each person’s nature. Apparently studies in the liberal arts served as a valuable complement to the visual arts.  Getting the essence of a subject’s personality and character down on paper or canvas makes a successful painting in the end.

Initially I studied landscape painting with George Peter for several years before intensive studies in portraiture and figure painting with Cesare Borgia at the Reilly League of Artists.

Fascination with the excitement of the ocean very quickly developed into deep interest trying to pin down the relentlessly changing “face” of the ocean with its constant movement and moods which are at once both beautiful and terrifying.  Watching the sea in all seasons for long hours at a time became a major activity ever since and is very important for my understanding and growth as a painter. For there is much to learn from being willing to pay close attention to lessons that the sea can teach.


The Way I Work

Painting from life is not always practical since not everyone has unlimited time to sit. I have found from experience that most people have a few favorite photographs that portray them as they see themselves in the ideal. It is important however to have other available photos taken from different angles. In this way it is better understood how each head is constructed as far as the relationship of the features in an individual’s face and how they fit together in order to paint the head in an accurate and pleasing manner. We talk about what the client has in mind generally and then in more detail so as to get a better sense of the person and what they are looking for.  Often before putting a brush to canvas a preliminary sketch is submitted for approval and/or a photo of the portrait at various stages of completion are transmitted via e-mail as requested by the client.

Pricing for Portraits

There is no down payment asked as I prefer to be paid all at once upon completion to the satisfaction of the client. After all, the cost of materials is, in the long run, immaterially small compared to the time factor. 

Since each person has individual ideas as to how a work should be framed (and, in the case of a watercolor portrait, matted) selecting a frame is something that I will not become involved with and is best left to a professional framer. Therefore artwork is neither matted nor framed. But it will be packed in a safe manner to be shipped to the client if distance is a factor. Prices do not include packaging and shipping which will need to be added on to the initial price of the work itself.

Fees are more reasonable for portraits and figures than seascapes since they do not represent moving targets like the sea. Below is a general idea of what to expect upon inquiry. 

Watercolor Portrait Fees:

Head and Shoulders

9”x12”       $200
12”x16”      $300
14”x20”     $400


Oil Portrait Fees:

Head and Shoulders 

11”x14”        $1,200
14”x18”       $1,600
16”x20”     $2,000


Pet Portrait Fees in Watercolor:

Head, 8”x10” or 9”x12”      $150


Pet Portrait Fees in Oil:

Head, 8”x10”, 9”x12” or 11”x14”         $750                  


Full length and multiple figures will be proportionately higher of course.  But it is important to know that, unless a canvas is very large, or the subject is in a seated pose, the head can be very small if the entire figure is painted. 

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have by phone. 

~  Nancy Abbe
914 - 723 - 1708