The most common type of commission I receive is the portrait commission. This may range from a single, traditional head, to half or full figures. Some examples are shown below:

Rates for work of this type typically ranges from $1000 – $3000, depending on size and complexity.

Frequent questions:

Do you work from photos or from life?


Traditional portraits are done with a live sitter. I am happy to work in this way for anyone who wants to. This is not a common request, though, because of both time constraints, and the difficulty of having many subjects hold a pose without moving for significant lengths of time (particularly children and animals). Most portrait commissions that I do take between 30 and 60 hours, which is challenging for most potential subjects.

In most cases, I involve photography in the work, to help relieve the sitter of the burden of posing for extended lengths of time.

In some cases, I will work exclusively from photographs without ever even meeting the subject. However, most of the time, there is at least some cooperative planning, and some live sessions, even just for preliminary sketches and becoming familiar with the model.

Can you work from my photo?

I generally prefer to take my own photographs in portrait commissions, to make the process more collaborative. However, this is not always possible, and in the case where a client has a specific image s/he would like turned into an artwork, I can work with any reference source. I may work to enhance or modify the original image in various technical ways to increase the contrast, create areas of compositional emphasis, and even remove obstacles or other undesired elements from the original image to create a more focused composition.

What I enjoy the most about portraiture is trying not just to capture an accurate likeness – cameras do that already far better than artists ever will – but to create and select a moment that contains a special breath of the subject’s character, and what makes him/her unique beyond physical appearance. This is not a process that can be described in technical terms, of course: a piece of art always contains an element of connection between the subject and the artist, through whose eyes the subject is perceived, and through whose artistry the s/he is rendered and represented.

This is far easier to do with models I have at least some basic acquaintance with. I typically like to meet the model well in advance, and get to know them a little over a cup of tea while we discuss the piece, chat about art and life, and take some preliminary exploratory photographs. Ideas and concepts tend to bloom from these meetings in ways that greatly help me to do my best and most successful work.

In the case where a meeting is not possible, for whatever reason, I can work from whatever source is available. I generally prefer to be involved in the creation of the original image where possible, but I always bring my best effort to the process regardless of the source.

How does the process go?

Size and basic information about the piece (how many figures, complexity of background or other elements, if any, and so forth), and an estimate is created based on this early information, based primarily on time estimates.

An initial deposit of 1/3 of the cost is due at the beginning of the process.

One or more preliminary compositional sketches are then done, in very rough form, to be approved by the client as a model for the final work. Any changes or issues that come up along the way of doing this may affect the final cost, and the amount of the remaining two installments are adjusted if necessary.

The second 1/3 payment is due at the beginning of the rendering of the final piece.

The final payment is due upon delivery of the finished work. Average time from start to finish ranges from 3-5 weeks, depending on my workload at the time.

Does the cost include framing?

Framing costs can vary so widely that it is impossible to predict them in advance, so I do not work framing costs into my pricing.

I work with a local framer for my work whom I can recommend, or of course you may take the work to your own framer and handle it however you wish.

Does the cost include shipping?

Shipping costs are extra. I will personally deliver work within 50 miles of Amherst, MA at no cost.

How do I start the process?

Email or call, and I’ll be happy to discuss your idea with you and answer any questions you have.

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I am always happy to teach, or talk, color theory and color science, to individuals or groups. For lectures, any group size is fine; for hands-on workshops, I generally limit group size to 8; more than that can make it difficult to give participants much individual attention.

The material I cover is the Munsell Color System, the science behind color and vision, and the Graydon Parrish method of color mixing, which he also teaches (of course) and he and I teach jointly through The Classical Lab. I limit my solo workshops to just the science of color and color mixing; I do not teach painting.


I have two versions of a general color science and color theory workshop for painters: a highly-condensed 30-minute version, and a more relaxed 2-3 hour version. It consists of a slideshow and some demonstrations, and has never not been followed by a lively Q&A that goes until everybody’s tired.


I also do a one-day hands-on workshop for painters, starting with the short-form lecture overview of color science and the Munsell color system, and covering hands-on color mixing in oil paint. Students are taught to individually consider and target the three attributes of color: hue, value and chroma, and the Graydon Parrish method of how to mix any color by isolating and bracketing those attributes.

Students seeking more in-depth instructions on these subjects should attend the longer courses, ranging from 1-3 weeks, taught and led by Graydon Parrish and The Classical Lab. See for more information.

Snail mail Steve Linberg Fine Arts
171 State St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Google Voice 413-842-6767