A most peculiar portrait commission

Last summer I was asked to paint a portrait of Karen, not by Karen herself, because she has been dead for quite a long time. I was asked to paint this portrait by the man she has been haunting for many years…

Portrait of Karen, ghost
Portrait of Karen, ghost

This was, I think, the most unusual portrait request I have had to date. Because of the nature of my ‘ordinary’ paintings, people generally ask me to paint portraits of them, their family, girlfriend and so on, only if they want to be depicted, or have someone else depicted, as some kind of supernatural creature.

And then I was asked to paint the painting of Karen, who is a supernatural creature. Usually I ask for a good photograph for portraits, preferably in natural lighting. In this case had to make do with a description, and the slightly art-nouveau design printed on the back of a piece of carbon paper, which depicted a running pattern of a woman’s face and hair repeated all over the back. My client believed that Karen had directed him to this image on the carbon paper. He also believes that she temporarily took me over as I painted the picture because the painting is apparently so accurate.

close-up of Karen's portrait
close-up of Karen’s portrait

Whether I believe in Karen is not really the point. I was asked to bring to life something that someone saw in their mind, instead of something that I saw in my mind, which is usually the case. And after some initial trepidation, I enjoyed painting this one, and even more so apparently getting her right!

The painting is to be a cover for the book that my client had written about his experience with this ghost, the website is timheathcote.org – as yet there isn’t much on it but the book is due out later this year.

So… anyone else have a personal ghost, demon, etc. that they’d like me to paint?! All suggestions considered…


  1. Woo-Hoo. Neato. Cool. Interesting. And creepy. LOL. I’ve had my share of ghost and demon experiences. No way do I wan’t them in painting. The experience was enough! Heh-heh.

    1. Thanks Mgon 🙂 …yes I can see not everyone would want a portrait of their own demons and the like… even fairys could be quite scary if they didn’t leave you alone!

  2. What an amazing story to accompany a lovely, etherial image. I imagine other commisions will seem quite dull.

    1. Thank you, and, well, usually with commissions I get to dress people up as monsters (not literally but on the paper), so they have their own points of interest, but yes, they do not make such a good story!

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