Nancy Tilles, Portraits in Oil

Go to content

Main menu

Questions and Answers

Why would you want to consider having a portrait painted instead of just having a photograph taken?

The process of painting adds to the magic of the portrait.  Because the portrait is painted over time, translucent layers of paint on canvas give the portrait a depth that no photograph can achieve.  The light penetrates the layers and illuminates the picture from within.  The color is always more vibrant than a photograph and it will stay that way for hundreds of years.  Even with the current technological breakthroughs, photographs only last decades compared with an oil painting that can last centuries.

If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

An oil portrait should reflect the soul of the person it is portraying.  It should feel life like.  The size of the portrait is also important.  The painting should come close to the actual size of the person to maximize the dramatic effect.

What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

Be sure that you are having your painting created by an artist who takes her work seriously.  A professional artist who regularly creates work and shows her work publicly will be someone who has a lot of knowledge to share.   

Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

My paintings make people smile.  I try to capture people at happy moments in their lives.  
paintings accurately represent the person or animal that I am depicting.  They are often compared to photographs but brushstrokes are visible and the colors are often more vivid.  If the client desires, I will tell a story in the painting of a moment in time.  For me, that is very rewarding.

Do you have a favorite story from your work?

I was once asked to create a painting of a young girl at the moment she discovered that she would become an equestrian.  The photograph I was given was of a child of about five who had just been startled by a large horse.  It was a very poor photograph taken from above.  Her figure was distorted by the camera but it did capture a special moment.  I was unable to get any better pictures, because, by the time her mother had given me the photograph, she was a young adult winning ribbons at equestrian meets.  Although it was a very difficult challenge, I enjoyed creating the painting and the customer was very happy when it was completed.

How did you decide to get in your line of work?

I watched my father drawing as I was growing up.  He was my teacher and my critic.  I  learned accuracy and proportion from my dad.  My portraits were done in pencil and almost always in black and white.  When I went to college, I learned about color.  I stopped drawing and started painting.  Color became my ally.  There was no turning back.  I never really wanted to do anything else but paint.

Who was one of your most notable clients?

I was visited by a son and a brother of one of the first Chesterfield Girls.  My clients both wanted to honor her memory.  Priscilla Underwood had died as young mother.  She was an elegant woman who had never told her husband her correct age.  Only after she passed away, did the truth come out.  I created two paintings of her.  The first painting was done to reflect the age she was remembered by her son.  The second painting was done when she was much younger and it was a favorite of her brother's.

Back to content | Back to main menu