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4 Quick Tips on How to Choose the Perfect Photo to Base Your Oil Painting on.

 Photos to Portraits    Commission a Portrait

1. Are your photos high res?

portrait artist

I’ve found that the best oil portraits come from high-resolution photographs. Anything over 1 MB is excellent. It just means that when your artist studies your photograph, he’ll be able to see all the small details that he needs in order to paint you an exquisite oil portrait. Lesser quality photos are still ok to work from, we’ve hand-painted oil paintings based on photos taken from mobile phones but the higher quality and clearer the image the better.

2. How sharp is your photo?

Your artist can only paint what he sees. Therefore your photo needs to clearly show the artist the colours and details you want to have painted into your portrait. The more in focus your photo is, (as opposed to a blurry photo) the better your oil portrait will be.  Sharpness of photo is actually a key factor in what differentiates a good oil portrait from a great oil portrait.

3. Lighting

Try and avoid photos that show your subjects in strong sunlight or dark shadows as it doesn’t come across well in an oil painting.  Having subjects squint if they are looking directly in the sun or are covered by shadows so you can barely see their faces is again not ideal.

4. Background

portrait artist

The great news is, your artist can change and alter the background of your portrait to however you want it. However, if you want the artist to copy the background as seen in your photo, it helps if your ideal background shows slight variations in colour and tones as this will give your oil portrait greater colour weight. Remember though, if the background in your photograph is very colourful and busy it will probably detract from the main subjects. Let us know when placing an order if you have any concerns about the background of your photo or if you would like any advice or alterations to be made.

Have a question?

We’d love to hear from you! If you would like to add something,  or ask a question concerning our oil portraits please leave a comment.

Bye for now x

Fabulous Masterpieces is the Premier UK Portrait Company. Curious to learn more about us? Then please visit the About Fabulous Masterpieces page. 

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How to Clean Your Oil Painting

How to clean an oil painting

When it comes to cleaning your oil painting, the best thing to use is a soft brush. Brushes can be used to remove surface dirt on the painting and the frame. If you still find you cannot remove the dirt, then cotton swabs that have been dampened with distilled water can be lightly rolled on the surface.  However, if there is flaking paint then no attempt at cleaning should be made as fragments of paint could be dislodged and swept away.  In this case, I would recommend seeking a trained conservator.

Do you have any tips?

If you have a question or if you clean your painting differently, we’d love to hear about it! Please get in touch and leave a comment.

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Looking for Dog Portrait Artists?

Fabulous Masterpieces has over 50 artists on their books and 5 of those are solely dog portrait artists. If you’ve ever wanted to commission a portrait of your dog, the process really couldn’t be simpler.  Just have a look at the short clip below, which explains the process of commissioning a dog portrait.

You can even tell the artist what colour background you would like to have painted or have certain objects added in.

Dog Photo

Photo of dog emailed into Fabulous Masterpieces

Dog Portrait

Dog Portrait based on the photograph that was emailed into Fabulous Masterpieces

Our dog portrait artists use premium Winsor & Newton oils and paint onto a duck cotton canvases. For further information on pricing and commissioning a portrait of your dog by one of our professional dog portrait artists, please follow click here.

Have any questions? Would you like to see more examples of dog portraits? Please post a comment or email portraits@fabulousmasterpieces.co.uk

Look forward to hearing from you!

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To varnish or not to varnish, that is the question!

When we’ve finished painting your portrait or art reproduction we don’t normally varnish the painting as a painting needs to be completely dry before applying varnish and an oil painting usually takes 6 months to dry. So after 6 months should you varnish it, is it even important?

Well, varnish protects a painting from dirt, dust and pollution in the air, so it probably is a good idea to apply varnish to your painting. There are different types of varnish you can buy from art shops, such a matte or glossy varnish. The difference between the two is that a glossy varnish when it dries,  dries completely clear while matte varnishes leave a slightly frosted glass appearance, so it depends on the look you’re after.

I need to reiterate that you need to leave a good 6 months before you varnish your painting, if the canvas is still wet and you apply the varnish, there’s a good probability that your painting will crack.

By the way, in case you’re wondering how to varnish a painting, luckily, there is a really simply solution!  You can actually buy a varnishing spray & simply spray a layer of varnish across the whole painting. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

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So, You want an aged oil painting!

When we do art reproductions, especially for period houses, we are often asked to make sure that the paintings look like they were painted centuries ago. I remember we were once asked to paint Vermeer’s A Girl with a Pearl Earring  but to do so in such a way that the whole painting had to have a “cracked effect” (craquelure). I’ve attached the photo to show you exactly what I mean.  The customer loved it, and if that’s what you’re after, it’s very easy to do but personally I think it looks a bit contrived, so we’ve steered away from this technique.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring using the Craquelure technique

What do we do now then? Well, we use an art restorer here in London and the results are really fantastic. The oil painting has to be completely dry and this takes 6 months. So patience is definitely a virtue but it’s worth the wait. Once dry, amongst other things, the restorer mixes varnish with a brown paint, usually Van Dyke Brown and brushes it onto the painting. We can do this for you (if you want us to hold onto your painting until it is absolutely dry), but alternatively you could just take your painting to an art restorer yourself once it’s dry. It’s not expensive and your oil painting will look FABULOUS!

Aged Art Reproduction

Detail of oil painting by Fabulous Masterpieces. Painted in 2010 but looks centuries old!

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If you’re thinking about commissioning a fine art reproduction of an oil painting that you love there are some things that you need to look out for when browsing art reproduction websites.

1. Is there a postal address but more importantly a phone number that you can call that is clearly visible on their website?


If your art reproduction company is reputable they will have a phone number clearly displayed. I would strongly recommend avoiding companies that don’t. We have heard several horror stories from new customers who originally bought an art reproduction from a website with no address or phone number displayed and when problems arose such as a poor quality painting or the painting was damaged in transit etc there was nobody that they could call to talk to. Emails suddenly went unanswered and as there was no phone number listed to call or address shown, nothing could be done, resulting in people being left with an unsatisfactory painting that they could never display and money being thrown down the drain.  The lesson to learn here is make sure contact details are visibly displayed and better still call your chosen art reproduction company before ordering to talk through any concerns that you may have.

2. Does the art reproduction company comply with copyright law?

Van Gogh's Starry Night by Fabulous Masterpieces

I cannot tell you how many companies I have seen online that are offering customers the chance to buy copies of masterpieces that are still covered by copyright, and therefore illegal. These businesses know it too! Usually, these are the art replica companies that will not display a number or address so there is no way the authorities or DACS (the Design and Artists Copyright Society) would be able to prosecute them. Just so you know, in a nutshell any painting can be copied if the artist has been dead for 70 years. That means, any artist who has died prior to 1st January 1940 is perfectly legal to replicate (apart from the extremely  rare occasions whereby the estate of the late artist has successfully extended copyright). However, if you see a website offering to paint you a Rothko, Matisse or a Picasso (he died in 1973) for example, this is in breach of copyright law. And as for artists that are still alive, that is a huge no no. Yes, I know it’s annoying! Your favourite artist might be Picasso or Freud but do you really want to deal with an art reproduction company that is painting copies illegally? What will you do if there is a problem with your painting? The lesson to learn here is to deal with reputable art companies who comply with copyright law. Remember an artist needs to be dead for 70 years before you can legally commission a painting by him or her.

3. Does your art reproduction company have examples of their work shown on their website?

Charles Fortune's Mending Nets by Fabulous Masterpieces

Art Reproduction of Charles Fortune's Mending Nets by Fabulous Masterpieces

This is quite important as art reproduction is all about quality. For example on the Fabulous Masterpieces website there is a compare and contrast section, allowing people to compare the art reproductions to the original painting. There are also photos of Fabulous Masterpieces’ paintings in situ, which again shows people the quality that they can expect. The lesson to learn here is since just about all art reproduction companies are run solely online, you need to try and see as many examples of their paintings as you can, so you can make a judgement if the quality of their oil paintings is right for you. A lot of companies also make the claim that their art reproductions are “museum quality“! It’s true, Fabulous Masterpieces does make this claim, but we make that claim because museums commission our art reproductions due to their high quality. Do museums commission reproductions from your chosen art company, or is the claim simply hype? Whatever art company you decide to order from, just make sure you are happy with the quality of their work as when you receive your painting you want to not only enjoy it but be proud to display it in your home.

4.  Don’t pay peanuts but don’t pay over the odds.


When it comes to pricing, just do a Google search and you’ll see that prices for art reproductions can vary astonishingly. I once saw a reproduction oil painting of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers sold for £20 on ebay. £20! I was so amazed that I spent £20 of my hard earned money to see what a £20 replica oil painting would look like.  Well, it wouldn’t take Einstein to guess that the painting was dreadful.  It looked like something a 6 year old might paint and the smell was horrendous.  I have no idea what poor quality, cheap oils they used but it was not good. At the same time, I have seen art reproductions online starting from £1,500.  From a young age, we are told that we get what we pay for but £1500 for a standard size oil painting copy (50cm x 60cm) is extortionate.  Remember, this is not appreciable art, it is decorative art.  The lesson to learn here is shop around, make sure the quality of your oil painting justifies the price and very importantly, that you are getting good value for your money.

5. Will your art reproduction company post negative reviews as well as good on their website?


If you want to book a hotel, what do you do? Just about everybody I know goes onto Trip Adviser to read genuine reviews by people on their hotel experience to help them make an informed decision on what hotel they should stay with. If your art reproduction company does not have any testimonials posted on their website, then be careful, as you would have to ask, why? Aren’t any of their customers happy with their art reproductions? Secondly, does their website allow you to post not just good reviews but negative comments, or do they screen the reviews submitted and just post positive testimonials. You need to be wary if the reviews you are reading are all one sided and therefore not giving you an honest picture of the art reproduction company you are ordering from.

To give you an example of what to look out for, at Fabulous Masterpieces people can post reviews on an external site, the link of which is on the Fabulous Masterpieces website allowing people to read and review us. Whether positive or negative, all comments are posted, allowing you, the perspective customer to make an informed decision.  The lesson to learn here is making sure you are getting all the information, not just the biased bits.  Type the name of the art reproduction company into Google and see what people have said about them on forums or review websites. It pays to do research.

Have a question?

We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or contact us via email: info@fabulousmasterpieces.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0)20 8354 9280.  Alternatively, visit our art reproduction website Fabulous Masterpieces by following the link. http://www.fabulousmasterpieces.co.uk 

Oh and Yup, we deliver world-wide too!

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