I was commissioned to paint this house (above). This photograph was taken last summer. It was once owned by my aunt when she was a child. Her family moved out of this home when my aunt was about 7 years old. The hardest part of the commission was…i was to paint it as she remembered it. There was no screened in front porch. My aunt brought three 5×5 photographs that were taken when she was a child. The photographs were of her & her sister. Portions of the house could be seen behind her, but there was no photograph of the whole house. For example, I saw that there were originally pillars on the front porch and they got wider as they reached the porch floor. I sat with my aunt- with a piece of paper & pencil & very quickly sketched out the house. I would add things she remembered. Like the screen door & the black mailbox beside the door. The swing she & her sister would sit on for hours. There was once a playhouse. There was the pathetic (her words, not mine) lemon tree that stood to the left of the stairs. Once i got the very rough sketch approved. She left.
I started by drawing the very basic lines of the house…that i could see. Everything except where the screened in porch was. Then i photocopied that simple drawing so that i could draw on the photocopy. I would draw what i thought i’d understood, photographed it with my phone & sent it to her via text message. I had no idea where the house ended. I didn’t know the design of the swing. I didn’t know what the windows looked like. This went on for several days before i got the ok to begin painting.
This is where i sat for days trying to get it right. I eventually moved into my art studio once i got final approval. Once i got the house correct, i realized that there would have been shadows cast by the roof over the porch & shadows cast from the pillars & swing. I had to guess on where the shadows would have been the deepest, their angle & direction. It was a challenge. I’ve been commissioned to watercolor a church & a synagogue, a lake house (and a new commission of another church due mid June, i only have to get rid of a sign & replace it with another)…all of these were 10x easier because i could see them. This one ended up meaning the most to me because i became so much closer to my aunt. This one was done with love.
This was the last photograph of the painting i sent her. It was finished. She gifted it to her sister. Luckily, they both loved it. But i think i do much better when i can see what i’m painting.
I’m to paint her childhood beach house next. *The beach house, in Panama City, was torn down this year, they are building a new house. I’ve seen the plans for the new beach house & i’m looking forward to visiting my Aunt & Uncle there. I was able to spend a weekend in the old house last summer/fall & it was the best vacation i ever had. The beach house is less than a 10 minute walk to the beach. I cannot wait to go & see the new house this summer!
…oh, and they made sure to photograph the old house, as they want it painted, before it was knocked down. So, phew!
Post script…i’ve no training in painting architecture. Actually, i have no training at all. I am self taught…so be gentle with me.
*Correction!! The beach house has not yet been torn down! The kids and i are going this summer!