Our Unique Process

At Baltimore-Washington Oil we work locally, and in partnership with a small studio of master painters in Xiamen, China. We divide the process of creating an oil painting into three distinct specializations: reference photography, painting and archival framing. This specialization allows us to produce a final painting of very high quality, and at a much lower price than you might expect.

Based in Xiamen, Zhang Studio works with reference photographers in major cities around the world. Your reference image is created locally by an experienced professional photographer. In the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., that's me.

Once assigned a Zhang Studio commission, I'll travel to your location to photograph the subject(s) of the painting. They will be professionally lit and photographed in a manner specifically designed to be reproduced as a museum-quality oil painting.

Before the actual painting process begins, you'll view a selection of edits from which you'll choose the photo that will serve as the reference image for the painting. This step is very important, as it reduces the risk and uncertainty inherent to the traditional painting process. You will know the content of your artwork before painting begins.


Next, your chosen image will be sent to Zhang Studio in Xiamen, China. Zhang Studio is a boutique art house specializing in museum-quality oil portraiture. The artists are highly skilled, with an average of twenty years of professional experience.

Your artist will then begin the painstaking process of creating your heirloom oil portrait. The process is done completely by hand, by a world-class painter. (Shown above is artist Thomas Linn, creating a painting for Baltimore Washington Oil.) Because your painting will contain five to seven complete layers of oil-based pigment, it will take several months to complete.

This process is time-consuming. But it produces a painting that has both depth and luminance, with the translucent skin tones unique to a master oil painting.

After your painting is finished, you'll see and approve a photo of it. If any changes are required, they will be addressed at this time. Your painting will then be allowed to dry sufficient for safe transport before being shipped, rolled and double-packaged for safety.

Our paintings include an allowance for archival framing, which is done locally in Howard County. This allows you to choose the frame that best showcases your artwork. You can see that process in detail, here.

1. Zhang Studio painter Thomas Linn paints in his studio in Xiamen. (Photo by David Hobby)
2. Finished painting by Thomas Linn/Zhang Studio, Reference photo by David Hobby