The Story of a Custom Painting

14 November, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

When I create a custom painting for a client, the package includes a coffee table style storybook, telling how the painting came to be. Having this permanent art journal allows the client to revisit the creative journey at any time. I am pleased to share with you the story of my latest commission.

Last spring, a new client asked me to create a portrait of their home, as a surprise for her husband's 50th birthday. She came to my studio to discuss size, season, time frame and budget. Then she and I visited her home and decided on this view for the painting. 

She asked me to do a summer scene, when her garden would be in bloom, and to include certain elements in the painting, such as their three pets, and her husband's favourite truck. I took photos then and agreed to return for more photos in August.


In September, I drew a small concept sketch on graph paper to make sure the verticals were straight.

Once the client approved this concept, I made a full size layout drawing showing more details, such as the cats in the window and the dog on the front porch.


After approval, I traced the sketch onto watercolour paper, using a sheet of graphite paper to make the transfer. I used a ruler to make all the straight lines.


Masking fluid was applied temporarily to all areas that needed to stay white during the painting process.


I painted practice skies on scraps of watercolour paper, so I could choose the right combination of blues for the painting. Then I chose the other paints I thought would work and made colour tests to ensure I could mix all the colours I needed for the painting.


The sky wash was applied and allowed to dry overnight, and then I added the first layer of greenery.

I added window interiors, roof colours and a warm yellow wash on the front face of the home.


Using two mixtures, I painted the brick surfaces to look mottled. When dry, I added shadows under the eaves and porch.

After that layer dried overnight, I removed the masking fluid with a crepe eraser.


Below is the completed painting '180 Roseborough', watercolour 13 x 16.5".

With the storybook designed and ordered, I met the client at the framing gallery to select mats and molding. The framed painting and accompanying storybook were delivered to the client in time for the big birthday in November.  I do love a happy ending...

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