Posts Tagged ‘house portrait’



February 21, 2019

McNally’s – Oil on Canvas – 11″ x 14″

I received a call a couple weeks before Christmas. The children of a former student asked that I create a house portrait of their parents home. They inquired about a watercolor but agreed to have it created in oil. They forwarded about two dozen photos taken of the home. Photos from about every possible angle, which was great. I suggested, and they agreed to let me design from the side of the home as a way to place emphasis at the front door as well as add depth to the composition.

The painting moved smoothly and I was finished several days before needed.


1500 National Avenue

December 11, 2014
1500 National Avenue; Plein Air oil on Canvas Panel 11 x 14

1500 National Avenue; Plein Air oil on Canvas Panel 11 x 14

Ventured out to National Avenue again. On my last trip over here, I noticed a scene that had potential. It was a rather impressive tree house surrounded by brilliant yellow and ocher leaves. That day was cloudy, but today was clear and bright with sunshine. I had the design set in my head. I knew what I was going to paint. Unfortunately, over the past few days, the trees dropped a lot of leaves. Too many in fact. That idea will have to wait for next year, assuming the tree house is still there.

Traveled the street a couple times and settled on this scene. Rather than just focus on the house, the front corner of this design, at the base of the street sign, had an interesting display of Nasturtiums. I felt that the flowers could offer a different and interesting flair to this painting. I was attempting to work quickly to capture the house, shadows and Nasturtiums. Unfortunately, the angles of the house required additional time to nail. I was also interrupted by passers by. It was nearing noon and I had yet to work in the flowers except for subtle indication suggested by a few, random brushstrokes. Since the weather report indicated that the next day would be a repeat, I felt confident that I could come back the next day to capture the foreground display of flowers and finish the painting.

In my classes, I stress to my students that they should always nail down elements which will change, and do it as quickly as possible. That generally means elements such as shadows, clouds, people, vehicles, etc. I should listen to my own teachings. Came back the next day and quickly realized that the homeowner did some yard work. The carpet of fallen leaves was no more. Not a problem since the yellow/green grass worked better for the light/shadows. But something else was amiss. The Nasturtiums! The lovely Nasturtiums at the front were gone. At first I attempted to paint the flowers in based upon my memory of the scene. Realized that this strategy would be a mistake.

I decided to make a few adjustments to the design and then finish it before the homeowner did any additional yard work. I selected to leave the background a bit vague. I feel that this helped to frame the subject home effectively and still add some mystery to the design.


1842 National Avenue

November 24, 2014
1842 National Avenue; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12 x 16

1842 National Avenue; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12 x 16

During my travel through this neighborhood a couple of days earlier, I spied this beauty. As I arrived this morning, the sun was shining though the weather reports indicated cloudy conditions. They weren’t too far off. About a half hour into this painting, the cloud cover got thick enough that my shadows were gone. The overcast condition allowed me time to get the basic structure of the house and design established. I returned a few days later, when the sun was shining, and was able to invest the time refining the shadows on the porch and establishing the shadows patterns of trees against the house.

While working on this painting, I had the good fortune to meet several people from the neighborhood. Good conversations and safe conditions made for a pleasurable time.


Florals on Frederick

October 7, 2013
Florals on Frederick; Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Florals on Frederick; Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

The Shorewood Plein Air Event competition paintings were turned in late Friday afternoon. The attention now focused on the Saturday morning “Quick Paint’ competition. Artists have 2-1/2 hours to set up, paint, frame and then turn in their work.

After a very satisfying breakfast at a nearby restaurant, I strolled the neighborhood around the Shorewood library to search for possibilities. As I surveyed designs, I eliminated choices due to various reasons – not interesting, too complicated, no shade for me, no sunlight for my subject, and a few other excuses. I was running out of real estate, when an idea came to me. I noticed a house with a hanging basket of flowers on their porch. Although shaded, I anticipated interesting results when/if the sunlight hit these flowers. I used my viewfinder and sketchbook to make some thumbnail sketches to help determine the most suitable design. The first sketch was too broad and would include too many non-essential details and design obstructions. Keep it simple. The second sketch was too narrow in focus and would not include enough elements to be of interest.  Keep it simple. The third sketch worked for me.

Back to the car, I primed my canvas with some Alizaron Crimson and laid out fresh paints onto my palette. After checking in to have my canvas stamped and having my time registered, I hurried with my gear to the spot. I was set up on a sidewalk, under the shade of a couple large trees and had an unobstructed view across the street to my subject. I quickly sketched in my design and was just starting my painting, when a woman came out of the subject house to see if I was painting her home. The woman was excited. That helped to boost my confidence. A short while later a man strolled out of the house, meandered around and eventually looked in on my painting. I noticed the couple leave their house and make their way over to the Shorewood library to view the competition paintings. The couple came from the library with friends in tow to view my work of their home. They were excited. Pressure. I hope that this turns out well.

I was feeling confident though. About forty minutes into the painting, I was very happy with the progress.  My initial brushstrokes and paint applications were very helpful. Economy of effort. I was able to work carefully without feeling rushed. Very comfortable. I finished, gathered my gear, headed back to my car where I photoed and framed my painting and turned in my work with about fifteen minutes to spare.

That night at the awards ceremony my work was honored with The Community Spirit Award. At the sale/auction, the homeowners put a minimum bid on the work. Another couple jumped the bid and was willing to pay more than my usual price for this size work. The homeowners jumped that bid. I was pulling for the homeowners to acquire the painting. Unfortunately for these folks, in the last moments before the bidding was closed, someone jumped their bid to purchase the work at a very flattering price. Double award as far as I am concerned.

I felt sorrow for the homeowners. I would have been honored to have this nice couple own my work. I can imagine their disappointment. I offered the idea of taking on their home next year, but understandably, the woman feels that it just won’t be the same. She may be right. It might be better! Now there’s pressure.


Sunspots in Shorewood

October 6, 2013
Sunspots in Shorewood; Plein Air - Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Sunspots in Shorewood; Plein Air – Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

Friday morning. Rain threatening. After attending a breakfast in Atwater Park, I was ready to get painting, but I decided to stop by the artists headquarters to see if there were any businesses or homes which had yet to be painted. The volunteers, mentioned a conversation from the night before and there was a homeowner who expressed interest in having a portrait of his home. I did not have a strong desire to do another house portrait, but figured that I would check out the place.

The sky was dark and it was raining as I surveyed the home. It took about twenty minutes of moving around in the rain, looking for possibilities before an idea hit me. I determined that if the sunlight were to come out, it might illuminate the home in dramatic fashion.

It was raining as I started painting the scene. Although the rain abated, it remained very dark. About an hour into the painting, the sun made an attempt to peek through the clouds, but only enough to give me guidance on the tree foliage, then it was dark again. By the time I was ready to finish, I was on my own to imagine the effects of the sun on this scene. I was happy with the results and entered this work into the competition.

A bit disappointed at the Saturday night gala and sale. The owners of the home seemed to love the painting, but felt that the price was a bit out of their price range. The man indicated that they really wanted to own own the painting, but wanted to do some hard negotiating, then quickly threw out a comment about his budget concerns. I attempted to offer him a few ideas to help fit this painting into his budget and help him realize value in the work, but it was clear to me that unless he would be able to boast about chiseling me down, he would not buy. Interesting. He even knew that the sponsoring association would receive a commission for any works sold that evening. He offered the idea that if we met in the parking lot following the evenings activities, he could purchase the work at my wholesale (read – discounted) price and not have to give the association their commission. Not fair to me and not fair to the association and not fair to the town. Lesson learned. I should have approached the homeowner first before painting.

After viewing the work back at my home studio, I decided to make a few, minor adjustments to help the house “pop” a little more. I also decide to alter the name from the owners address to a more generic title. I let the association know about the changes as they are attempting to sell the remaining works from the competition. I also intend to utilize this painting to help promote my work at some upcoming shows.