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Where to have an original portrait painted

Artist Kevin McEvoy of Islip paints a portrait

Artist Kevin McEvoy of Islip paints a portrait from a live sitting. Credit: Photo by Lucille Paulsen

It's only 52 days till Christmas - not too early to start making your gift list. If you're tired of the usual electronics or gift cards (ho hum), or looking to please the person who has everything, why not consider a present that's truly one-of-a-kind: an original portrait?

Dozens of Long Island artists paint and draw portraits on commission, in styles to suit every taste. Prices range from $150 on up - in many cases, not much more than you'd spend to give a digital camera or flat-screen TV. But take heed; if it's original artwork you're after, you can't be a last-minute shopper.

Here's a sampling of artists; for more, contact your local arts council.

Yvonne Dagger: Massapequa, 516-297-0048,

Specialty: Pets
Cost: $250-$400
Order by: First week in December

Style: A combination of impressionism and pop, with traditional representational influences. "My passion has always been animals," says Dagger, 58, who paints in acrylics or oils, working from photographs. Her portraits of shelter dogs and cats awaiting adoption are featured at; she donates a portion of her fee to animal shelters.

Jane Simonds: Locust Valley, 516-384-6203,

Specialty: Houses
Cost: $1,800-$3,500
Order by: Nov. 25

Style: Primitive. Her acrylic paintings are done from a bird's-eye perspective and include family members engaged in their favorite pursuits. Simonds, 63, visits each home to photograph and take notes. She began painting after she commissioned an artist to paint her house in Maine and was not happy with the result. "I decided I could do better myself," she says.

Lucille Paulsen: Water Mill, 631-726-9536,

Specialty: People
Cost: $2,000-$5,000
Order by: Contact the artist

Style: Representational. "That's what counts," says Paulsen, 62, who works in oils or pastels, and prefers to meet her subjects and photograph them herself. "I always try to find something behind the face," to capture an attitude. Her work is on view through Nov. 13 at the East End Arts Council gallery in Riverhead (

Kevin McEvoyIslip, 631-365-2427,

Specialty: People
Cost: $3,000-$10,000
Order by: Mid-November

Style: Naturalism. While most portrait artists paint from photographs, McEvoy paints from sittings. A typical sitting is 3 hours (20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and yes, you are allowed to move); a painting might require six or seven sittings. "It's a dialogue," says the 28-year-old artist, who paints in oils and worked construction before studying art in Italy. "I talk to my sitters the entire time; I learn their personality."

Desmond Ambrose: Bayville, 516-506-2679,

Specialty: People, pets
Cost: $150-$600
Order by: Contact the artist

Style: Photo-realistic portraits in pencil or charcoal. Ambrose, 39, creates highly detailed likenesses working from photographs. Because of his medium, he says he is able to take orders "right up to the last minute."

Suzanne Berry: Coram, 631-736-0287,

Specialty: People, pets, houses
Cost: $125-$2,500
Order by: Mid-November
Style: Representational, realism
Pamela Gates Capozzola: Westhampton Beach, 631-835-8024,,                                                                                                                                             

Specialty: People, pets, places
Cost: Starting at $500
Order by: Nov. 15
Style: Impressionist
Candace Elizabeth EatonNorthport, 631-757-8864,

Specialty: People, pets
Cost: Pastels $800-$1,500; oils $1,500 - $10,000
Order by: Early December for oils; mid- December for pastels
Style: Traditional; works from sittings.
Nanette FluhrDix Hills, 631-327- 5553,

Specialty: People
Cost: $5,000 and up
Order by: Not available for Christmas delivery
Style: Representational/traditional
Jahn Guarino: East Northport, 631-368-4800,

Specilaty: People, dogs, cats, horses, places
Cost: $500 and up
Order by: As soon as possible
Style: Watercolors 
Elizabeth Nehls: Jamesport, 631-252-9173,

Specialty: People, especially children, and houses
Cost: $300 - $2,000
Order by: As soon as possible for holiday delivery
Style: Realistic
Pamela Long Nolan: Northport, 631-266-3793,

Specialty: People
Cost: Pastels $1,200 - $2,600; oils $2,000 - $10,000
Order by: Not available for holiday delivery
Style: Representational, works from sittings
David Peikon: Bethpage, 516-707-6520, 

Specialty: People
Cost: $2,500- $35,000
Order by: Not available for Christmas delivery
Style: Realism
Virginia Pierrepont: Glen Head, 516-316-0917,

Specialty: Children, family, pets
Cost: $1,500 - $10,000
Order by: Last week in November for oil portraits; second week in December for digital C-prints enhanced with pastels
Style: Classic
Angela Stratton: Selden, 631-696-8081,

Specialty: People; also does pets and houses
Cost: Pets, houses, $700-$1,500; people, $2,000 and up
Order by: As soon as possible
Style: Traditional realism
To find a portrait artist, contact your local Arts Council. The staff there can recommend artists working in every style and medium.
Nassau County
Long Island Arts Council at Freeport: 516-223-2522,

Town of Oyster Bay Arts Council: 516-797-7926,

Suffolk County
Babylon Citizens Council on the Arts: 631-587-3696

Brookhaven Arts and Humanities Council: 631-451-9070,

East End Arts Council: 631-727-0900,

Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council: 631-473-5220,

Huntington Arts Council: 631-271-8423,

Islip Arts Council: 631-224-5420,

Northport Arts Coalition:,

Patchogue Arts Council:,

Smithtown Township Arts Council: 631-862-6575,

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