David Pena

Paintings and Portraits . . .

The Personal Portrait

Boy with Guitar by David Pena

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Michael Langmaid Portrait
Michael Langmaid © David Pena 2006
Portrait Oil on Canvas

"But I've also painted portraits of people I didn't actually meet until the portrait was complete. I urge clients to give me at least 5 sessions of two hours each, explaining that they will enjoy the process and be more satisfied with the final result.

But in the end, I'm glad to work with the time they can make available."

Personalizing a portrait is not always an easy task, with Pena's clients giving him varying amounts of time to make studies, take photographs, and paint a portrait.

Portrait of Renee
Portrait of Renee © David Pena 2006

Oil on Canvas - 24" x 20"

"I've had clients who expect the painting to be done entirely from life, and they arrange their schedules to give me as much time as I ask for," the artist notes.


Pena tries to arrange all painting sessions in his studio on historic Union Square in Manhattan, finding it ideal for portrait-commission work.

"For the past 15 years, " he says, "I've been blessed with this wonderful working space that has a 22-foot vaulted ceiling, an 8-by-22-foot skylight with an unobstructed northern view, and all the props and painting supplies needed for portraiture.

If I can persuade a client to pose in that space, the conditions are ideal for me."

The artist notes, however, that many clients request that he paint them in their home or office.

"Some clients are more at ease in a familiar environment or are convinced that a particular setting best represents their personality or the nature of the commission," Pena adds.

Portrait Russell Gibson
© David Pena 2006
Portrait of Russell Gibson
Oil on Canvas - 44" x 36"

"For example, Sir Edward Manton, the senior advisor for AIG, chose to pose for me for 5 days in his executive office for a portrait commissioned by the Insurance Hall of Fame."

Most commissions begin with a meeting during which Pena discusses his needs and finds out what kind of expectations the client has for the portrait.

"The first and most important part of the process is for people to see my previous work and to respond favorably to it, " he comments.

"Usually, that has happened even before they call me or ask an agent to arrange a meeting.

However, I still want to be sure that they understand and appreciate what I do, " Pena adds.

"Then I want to hear what the client's expectations are, whether it's a group or individual portrait, a professional or personal commission, where the painting will hang, what size it should be, and when I'm expected to complete the work."

If the commission is prompted by a special occasion -- to mark an anniversary, a retirement, an award -- Pena likes to know about that as well.

Then he and the client establish a schedule of sittings and agree to the terms of the commission.

Sir Edward Manton - Portrait by David Pena


The Portrait of Dr. K. David. G. Edwards was painted in the Edward's sprawling 4,000 square foot loft in Tribeca. This was painted after completing a posthumous portrait of Margery Edwards. This portrait, by David Pena, includes artifacts from the Edward's Collection of Contemporary and Primitive Art. Featured is African fetishist sculpture, Peruvian clay urn, an aged Tibetan Temple Door, and two Aboriginal Digory Dus.


In 1993, the painting travelled to Sydney Australia and was entered in the Archibald Prize Competition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and is currently in the permanent collection of Sydney University Medical School.

Dr. David Edwards
© David Pena 2006
Dr. K. David G. Edwards (Sold)
Collection Sidney University Medical School
Oil on Canvas - 96" x 72"

David Pena 2018 All Rights Reserved
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