The tradition isn't rooted nearly so deeply in Northeast Ohio, where formal portraits are more often found in boardrooms than living rooms. The Southern way may be spreading, though, as parents discover the joy of capturing their child's sunny smiles and wide eyes in something other than a snapshot. "Most of my friends now do have it done," Karlovec says. "It's very special."
Depending on the medium, size and complexity, portraits can run from $500 to $20,000. Korow, who paints in watercolors, acrylics and oils, charges $1,500 to $16,000. For her pastels, Elliot charges $3,500 and up.
Typically, the artist begins by taking a roll of photographs and getting to know his or her subject. "We go out to dinner, out to lunch," says Korow, who classifies her paintings as impressionistic. "I'm all the time observing facial gestures. I'm looking for the best in that person that I can bring out."
Projecting personalityElliot says the majority of her portraits are of 3- to 5-year-old children. Because much of her work is done in the South, she usually shoots about two rolls of film and then runs it to a one-hour photo lab and back to the client so they can select the pose they want.
As any dog or cat lover knows, pets are often considered members of the family. While Bay Village artist Mary Glazier Hobbs does paint children's portraits, a good percentage of her subjects have four feet and tails. For her colored-pencil portraits, Hobbs charges between $400 and $4,000.
Whether she's sketching animals or humans, Hobbs' objective remains the same. "All of these children and animals have their own personality," she explains. "It's in the eyes and the quirk of the head. Bringing it out, that's my chore and that's my duty."
She does admit, however, that it's easiest working with dogs. "Cats are more difficult. They're more elusive," she says. One feline in particular stands out. "Every time I went to take its picture, it turned its back on me."
Elinore Korow Portraits, (330) 867-8796; Pencil Paintings by Mary Glazier Hobbs, (440) 247-4275; Sally Gates Elliot, (330) 864-6049.