painting a 65 year old memory

DSC06336LinndasOppHouse (1)

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! IMG_4220

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!

12 Comments Add yours

  1. The painting came out beautifully. So life like… I can totally see it on the cover of an Enid Blyton.


    1. Thank you so much! really, really ~amy


  2. Cathy says:

    You’re very talented. It’s a lovely painting.


    1. Thank you so much, Cathy! ~amy

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Corliss says:

    I love the story . It sounds like an adventure where you have unexpected surprises and challenges along the way. The print I have of the painting is in my kitchen. I wanted it placed where I could see it every day!


    1. I didn’t know what you did with your print. Flattered beyond belief! Thank you! ~amy


    1. Thanks Maverick! ~amy


  4. photosociology says:

    No need to be gentle because it’s beautiful.


    1. Thank you so much! I’ve not posted any of my artwork in a long time for fear of negative criticism. I work by commission only, so as long as the person who ordered the painting likes it, its good enough for me. But this one came with a story. thank you so much! ~amy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. photosociology says:

        It’s a very moving story and I’m glad you shared it.


      2. Thank you for reading & commenting on it! ~amy

        Liked by 1 person

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