Two African Artists Commissioned to Bring Old Photograph Back to Life

Reference photo with visible crease damage

Reference photo with visible crease damage

The reference photo that African artists Seth Sketcher (aka Seth Odhimabo) of Nairobi, Kenya, and Gershon Kwaku Puregold of Accra, Ghana were both commissioned to work from, was a scan of the lost creased and damaged original. The man in the photo is the deceased father and father-in-law of an American couple living in Florida, Kane and Roger. “It was a great photograph of my father-in-law that was lost except for this bad scan of the original image,” said Roger. The couple particularly liked this image and wanted it reclaimed and preserved it in an original artwork. In fact, they commissioned two versions of this photograph–one from each of the two African artists.

To start the process, Roger says, “I commissioned a work with Seth Sketcher.  We started talking together client to artist and I asked him if he would do a nice drawing from a poor scan of a great photo of my father-in-law. He said “yes” and we discussed a price of $300.00 for a medium-sized work plus all shipping costs.” A similar arrangement was also made by contacting artist Gershon Kwaku Puregold.

According to Dr. Keith McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Portraits Africa–“Roger rather insisted on the literalness of these pieces, and on a complete rendering, for example, of the striped shirt. Left to their own devices the artists, Seth in particular would be rather less literal, and so the works illustrate the constraints that a commission can impose. But of course the creative balance of a client and a commission does bring a financial reward.”

Gideon Fasola completed portrait commission for Roger and Kane

Gershon Kwaku Puregold’s completed portrait commission for Kane and Roger, charcoal on archival paper, 54 x 63 cm (21 x 24  inches) Commissioned for $250 + $35 shipping and insurance from Africa to the USA

Dr. McFarlane also spoke of the two resulting drawings–“The comparison is interesting as it illustrates the differing sophistication and abstraction of the two artists (Gershon is the younger and less practiced). It also shows how an old photograph can be “brought to life” in the hands of a skilled artist.”

Seth Sketcher completed commission for Roger and Kane

Seth Odhiambo (Seth Sketcher) created this drawing for $300 + $35 shipping and insurance from Africa to the USA.

Another benefit to bringing an old damaged photo back to life as a drawing, is that the fine art quality of the paper stock that the artists use produces an image with longevity. For his drawing above, Gershon Kwaku Puregold used a heavy paper stock similar to a thick watercolor paper. Both Gershon and Seth Sketcher used Archival grade acid-free non-rag papers on which to create their drawings. These artworks will last for many generations of ownership and preserve the memory of this man within his family for many years to come.

Seth Sketcher at work from iPhone screen reference image

Seth Sketcher at work from iPhone screen reference image

Resulting commissioned artworks may be to any size! Here, in the photo above, Seth Sketcher in Nairobi, Kenya, is at work on the portrait drawing on paper which is 42 x 63 centimeters (16 x 24 inches).

Seth Sketcher and Gershon Kwaku Puregold are just two of the more than thirty artists available to produce your portrait on commission via Portraits Africa.

If you have questions about commissioning a Portraits Africa artist, contact Dr. Keith McFarlane via email:

The service is described in detail in the Portraits Africa brochure, Commissioning a Portrait.



Startling New Faces From the African Portrait Project Artists

"The Initiation", 100 cm x 70 cm. 2014, Acrylic on Paper, Lynette Swanepoel, Thabo Mofutsanyane, South Africa.

The Initiation, Lynette Swanepoel, Thabo Mofutsanyane, South Africa, 100 cm x 70 cm, 2014, acrylic paints on paper

In February, we announced the launch of African Portrait Project and you can read that article here. We also published an article on unconventional portraits and included work by African artists. Read the article, The Unconventional Portrait: Moving Away From the Literal Likeness here.

The African Portrait Project has grown to include even more accomplished artists from several African countries. Many have fewer resources than most of us are accustomed to, such as cell phones only to photograph their art and to connect with the rest of the world via social media. Therefore these African artists have elected to join together in a group on Facebook to share images of their work and offer portrait commissions with the assistance of Dr. Keith McFarlane. View the Facebook page and more art here.

Dr. McFarlane’s African Portrait Project seeks to provide these African artists with an income from patrons in more affluent nations, by offering art lovers outside of Africa opportunities to commission portraits at extremely affordable prices. A win-win for all and when you participate by commissioning an artist, gives you an original fine art portrait of yourself or your family members.

Portrait III, Elias Mung'ora, Naibobi,Kenya

Portrait III, Elias Mung’ora, Naibobi, Kenya


These commissioned portraits are real fine art, one-of-kind, and may be hyper-realistic pencil drawings on paper, an oil painting, or expressive painting in other fine art materials.

Portrait artists in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and other African countries will be happy to consult with you one-on-one to determine the best options for your portrait.

You can also read more details on commissioning a portrait here.


"The wrinkled woman" by Theopencil ( Theophilus Boateng Kwaku Sarpong ) of Accra, Ghana,  Pencil on paper, without frame. 41cm x 51cm

The wrinkled woman, Theopencil ( Theophilus Boateng Kwaku Sarpong ) of Accra, Ghana, Pencil on paper, 41cm x 51cm


If you have questions, or wish to find out how you can commission your first portrait, contact Dr. Keith McFarlane via email:  Please remember that Dr. McFarlane is based in Amsterdam, and asks you to keep in mind that Amsterdam time is about hours ahead of your time zone in the USA. Here is Dr. McFarlane’s phone number: +31 20 89 32 791

Commissioning a foreign artist for a portrait, and the artist accepting foreign commissions involves a high level of trust on both sides. Recognizing this, Dr. Keith McFarlane, scientist and owner of the Amsterdam based company Negative Entropy and the owner and creator of the ArtWorld app available on iTunes, created this commission service. He will safeguard the payment while assuring quality and delivery of the commissioned artwork, and will only take a 5% commission to cover international transaction fees, currency exchange rates, bank transfer fees and like expenses.


"Africana III" by Elias Mung'ora of Nairobi, Kenya, Charcoal and watercolours on ivory paper, 60cm x 84cm

Africana III,  Elias Mung’ora of Nairobi, Kenya, Charcoal and watercolours on ivory paper, 60cm x 84cm





The Unconventional Portrait: Moving Away From the Literal Likeness


Face of Me And My Art, 41 cm x 30 cm,  2014, painting, graphite and charcoal on paper by artist Gideon Fasola of Ibadan, Nigeria, Africa.

The artist Gideon Fasola offers commissions of original fine art portraits capturing elements of you in combinations symbolizing your personality, profession, passions, collections, fantasy life, cos-play roles and creative activities in a visual yin-yang.

To discuss a possible commission from the African artists here, as well as other, and review their fees and details click here.

The unconventional portrait below, of a woman with her eyes closed, conveys her interior– thoughts, feelings, her mood– and gives us a glimpse into her inner sensuality.

"Virginity" by Kolapo Obadiah Olorunyemi of Abuja, Nigeria. Fine point pen on paper.76cm x 46cm

Virginity by Kolapo Obadiah Olorunyemi of Abuja, Nigeria. Fine point pen on paper. 76cm x 46cm


The remarkable portrait below, by an artist that goes by the name Theopencil (his full name Theophilus Boateng Kwaku Sarpong), from Accra, Ghana, Africa is a demonstration of his accomplished photorealism rendering techniques used to depict this image from the artist’s imagination. 




Artist D.A. Metrov was recently invited to conduct a public portrait session at the Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art as part of Marinella Senatore’s highly-acclaimed Building Communities exhibition. The event was a huge success. Portraits from the exhibit definitely fit the category of the unconventional–


Kelsey, portrait by Metrov

Kelsey, portrait by Metrov

Metrov portrait, Unidentified 2

Metrov portrait, Unidentified 2

Metrov portrait, Kevin

Metrov portrait, Kevin

Metrov portrait, Chien

Metrov portrait, Chien

Metrov portrait, Connie

Metrov portrait, Connie

Metrov is known for his uncanny ability to capture his subject’s “spiritual essence.” “It’s not something I try to do, it’s simply what comes naturally. Some have called it a psychic ability,” says Metrov, an artist living and working in Santa Barbara, California.

View more of Metrov’s unconventional portraits on his website here. Metrov also offers commissions for your portrait. You can contact the artist here.