"I call architecture frozen music." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goerthe
THE FUN OF CAPTURING A SPECIAL SETTING OR SUBJECT ~ and Bringing it to Life!
Creating original artwork for good friends and clients is one of the MOST rewarding aspects of being a fine artist.
There are dozens of architectural styles ~ and I appreciate all of them in one way or another. But my favorite details are found in handsome older structures ~ a deep fascination with me since I first picked up a paintbrush and palette more than four decades ago.
Recently, in addition to portraits of homes, parks and landmarks, I'm also creating paintings of children and pets. They change so quickly that many clients appreciate a special moment in time captured of their loved ones (more on that further down on this page).
In this photo, I'm pictured at my display of WINTER-themed artwork at the Spokane Holiday Cork Event a a while back ~ this one hosted by Dave Westfall at his GR Cellars Tasting Room. Many of the works included portraits of wintery landmarks and snow-covered houses ~ including well-known settings like the Davenport Hotel, Manito Park's Skating Pond, Bing Crosby's Craftsman at Gonzaga University and the Vista House at Mount Spokane.
It is truly an inspiring season. See four more WINTER portraits further down on this page under "Paintings ~ Winter Wonderland Scenes."
CASTLES ~ For many of us, the statement "Our homes are our castles," is true. Whether we are homeowners or renters, many of us have fallen in LOVE with where we live.
We spend our weekends renovating, redecorating, updating and doing everything that we can to make our homes our "own." We choose just the right furnishings, paint colors, accessories ~ even flowers for the garden ~ to leave a special thumbprint that reflects our own personal style.
If you are like me, we don't look at our homes as just places to hang out hats, but rather palettes where we often find that we are at our creative best.
DIY ~ Every year there seems to be more home improvement magazines cramming the racks at our grocery stores ~ promising that they can help us with any kind of DIY project. And If that isn't enough, there's also dozens of gardening "how to's" for everything from planting tiny herb gardens in window boxes to creating full-scale English gardens out of large untamed tracts of land.
DECORATING FOR THE SEASONS ~ For many of us, this love affair means changing the personality of our homes with accessories as the seasons and holidays unfold throughout the year.
WINTER brings dozens of twinkling lights and a huge holly wreath on the front door; Autumn, pumpkins and multi-colored Indian corn; springtime tulips, hyacinths and daffodils in clay pots and ceramic bunnies on the porch steps; and summer, red, white and blue bunting draped from the eaves of our homes with "Old Glory" waving in the breeze.
THAT SPECIAL GIFT ~ If your home or the home of someone you love is a very special "dream house," why not consider commissioning a portrait? (More on that further down on this page.)
I've painted four "neighborhood" paintings since the early 1970s. Most of my canvases are 8x10 inches, but all of the details I wanted to include in these pieces required larger sizes (11x14-inch and 16x20-inch).
"SPRINGTIME COMES TO SIMPSON STREET" ~ Pictured here are the original (2007) and two revisions (2012 & 2016):
"FINE FALL FINISH" (2010) ~ I painted this as a gift for our contractors, Lance Elliott and Chris Garrett (Elliott Construction). They received framed prints after completing the renovation of our bungalow. Doug and I are shown celebrating the "finish" with them and their pets at a picnic in the upper left portion of the art. Their homes are part of the "neighborhood." A huge undertaking with challenges at every turn, they finished our 6-month+ project beautifully. I wanted to give them something special to show our appreciation, so I created this artwork.
"THE PEGGY PLACES" (1976) ~ This was a wedding gift I finished for my sister Peggy and husband Jeff, honoring all of the homes that my sister had lived in before her marriage ~ with the new California rambler near San Francisco they had purchased where the two of them started their married life. Peggy still has this painting ~ and they are still a happy couple decades later.
Highlight ~ These two paintings show in a very real way how my style has evolved ~ becoming more refined and detailed over the nearly 40 years between the dates I completed the artwork.
NEW! "CANNON HILL COTTAGE" (2016) ~ This painting pictures two beautiful Colonials ~ the white one with green shutters classic in styling and the yellow two- story, a barn-roofed Dutch Colonial.
Both residences overlook Cannon Hill Park two blocks west of our bungalow on Spokane's South Hill. Doug and I love to walk this neighborhood, so more often than not, pleasant afternoons find us strolling the perimeter of this very inviting park with its picturesque pond in the center.
The families who lived in these cottages for decades and their children who grew up there have very fond memories of good times spent here.
In summer, Cannon Hill Park is dotted with picnickers which you can see is the theme of this painting. When the weather is nice, there are always mothers pushing strollers ~ and kids in shirt sleeves riding bikes, playing on the swings and climbing on stone bridges that years ago used to span the pond when it was much larger. In winter, folks of all ages still ice skate, the boys playing some pretty brisk games of hockey. Every now you'll see a bonfire with toasting their back sides between outings on the ice.
PARK HISTORY ~ The property that makes up the park was a brick yard at the turn of the lastcentury. When the business exhausted the clay deposits, the Adams family (related to both Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams) donated the property to the city for use as a park ~ thus Adams park was born. Later it was renamed for influential Spokane developer A.M. Cannon.
ARTWORK "DETAILS" ~ While working on this piece, grown children who were raised in these homes asked if it was possible to have "detail"pieces of the art before I added all the folks you see in this image. I was able to do this and the family who grew up in the yellow Dutch Colonial treated themselves to prints of their childhood home last Christmas 2016. Then I finished the painting.
Highlight ~ Five women who lived in one or the other of these Colonials were Holy Names Academy classmates in the late 1960s. One of them purchased the original painting, had her three grandkids added cavorting on the sidewalk, and gave the artwork to her husband for Christmas.
COMMISSIONED FINE ARTWORK IN THREE STYLES
Note ~ Paintings are best suited for portrait work as it's easier to make alterations to achieve the best likeness with that type of media.
Commission fees vary widely. The cost is based strictly on both the amount of time it takes me to complete the art and on your choice of media. In other words, I record my hours and charge accordingly. Some media inherently takes longer than others ~ e.g. paintings require more time to complete than pen & ink sketches. Note ~ consultations and framing of the finished art are always complimentary.
Below, I've shared a gallery of 28 commission pieces (16 paintings, 8 pen, ink & pastels and 4 pen & inks). They feature several architectural styles and subjects. Beneath the gallery, you'll find helpful tips for planning your commission followed by a "Problems & Solutions" section with more sample paintings and photographs.
ACRYLIC-ON-CANVAS PAINTINGS (16 Examples of Paintings ~ 15 Architectural Styles and 1 Interior Setting)
HOME & GARDEN (4 Paintings)
VACATION GETAWAYS (2 Paintings)
PICNIC SCENES WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS (4 Paintings)
UNIQUE EXTERIORS & INTERIORS (2 Paintings)
WINTER WONDERLAND SCENES (4 Paintings)
PEN, INK & PASTELS SKETCHES (8 Examples of Architectural Portraits)
VICTORIAN OFFICE BUILDING ~ SPRING & FALL (2 Pen, Ink & Pastels)
VACATION GETAWAYS (2 Pen, Ink & Pastels)
HOME & GARDEN (4 Pen, Ink & Pastels)
PEN & INK DRAWINGS (4 Examples of Different Settings and Subjects)
ONE STEP FURTHER
HOLIDAY CARDS WITH YOUR HOME PORTRAIT ~ For several clients, I've painted directly on a print of the original artwork ~ adding holiday details like wreaths, snow, family and of course, a Christmas tree glittering in the window. Voilé! Artwork for holiday cards!
WEDDING INVITATIONS ~ For one engaged couple, after painting a portrait of their home (see "The Beautiful Day" below) I re-worked a print into a New Year's Eve scene with them as the bride and groom. Their invitation was a nice memento of the at-home ceremony for all their guests. Visit the Bridal page to see the artwork.
All of my work is custom, so the first step is a meeting. We'll choose a time of day when there will be plenty of natural light in the event that I need to shoot some pictures. I share my portfolio, discuss your wishes and see what photos you may have to share. I may be able to work from yours ~ crucial if you live in another part of the country. Frequently, I shoot my own ~ including several long shots as well as details of windows, lighting fixtures, garden gates, bird baths, etc. Once again, with my colorful "Americana" style, it's ALL in the details and we want your special personality to shine through.
PLANNING THE PROJECT
I create a "thumbnail" sktech and we make notes on the following ~
DETERMINING THE FEE & DELIVERY OF YOUR "MASTERPIECE"
Fees are always estimated, but I do my best to bring your project in on time and on budget. Normally, I receive a 50% deposit before I start. Note ~ the more specific you are about what you want at the start of the project, the less need for costly revisions later.
When we meet to hand off your "masterpiece," I receive the balance (plus tax). In addition to your beautifully framed piece, I always include a print or a handful of art cards as my gift. Congratulations!
I have dozens of samples of home portraits in every architectural style imaginable. Problem solving can be challenging, but always rewarding. Nearly every commissioned piece presents one difficulty or another, so I've shared a few problems with their solutions here. Each example has a photo of the artwork setting coupled with it. Click on each to see a larger view of the painting.
"CANNON HILL COZY"
CHALLENGE: EXPEDITING THE PROJECT ~ This pretty blond brick bungalow with green and cream trim overlooks Cannon Hill Pond in Spokane's South Hill neighborhood. It served as the Shelledy family home for several decades and this family absolutley LOVED the home.
When I began this piece, Janie Shelledy had already passed and her husband Pat was in declining health ~ spending his last days in the hospital. His adult children Dave and Patty were at the hospital a lot of time sharing stories and memories with their father ~ family reunions, Christmas holidays, misadventures of the kids and more. These conversations spawned Dave's request for this portrait of their family home.
The obvious challenge was to finish the artwork as quickly as possible so it could be hung in Pat's room where he could see and enjoy it every remaining day.
SOLUTION: PREPARATION, PLANNING & RESEARCH ~ With some direction from me, son Dave and daughter Patty went to work digging through old albums and boxes of photos. Patty and Dave not only found some great snapshots, they put their heads together and collaborated on an overview of the history of three generations of their family.
Pat's children gave me everything I needed, so the "guess work" was taken out of the equation. At times, the artwork felt like it painted itself. As you can see by the image here, I was able to include all three generations of Shelledys ~ the grandparents on the steps, parents in the driveway and kids playing in a huge pile of leaves on the driveway.
Pat was absolutely delighted at this "story of his life" on canvas. In 2013, the original artwork went to Dave Shelledy on the occasion of his 60th birthday ~ a truly fitting gift.
"BOWERS OF FLOWERS AT THE BUIOCCHI'S"
CHALLENGE: CREATING THE TRUE COLOR OF THE HOME ~ There were actually two inter-related challenges here. This sprawling two-story house was perched on a very steep hillside overlooking a lush greenbelt just above Lake Washington's Yarrow Bay in Kirkland
Other than hiring a helicopter pilot (these days, I could find a drone operator, but this piece was completed in 1999) to fly me over this property so I could shoot the photographs I needed to work from to complete this artowrk. I was in a quandary as to how to finish the painting while maintaining its architectural integrity.
And, not only was the home narly impossible to shoot, the heavy shadows of the foliage made the color of the residence's siding change substantially at different during of the day and whether or not the day was overcast or sunny. There were several shades of green ~ which one to choose?
SOLUTION: PHOTOSHOP & SEVERAL ON-SITE CONFERENCES ~ Adobe's PhotoShop allows designer to do practially anything! I've used this software for decades and it's one of my favorites because of its flexibility and many options. I shot lots of digitals photos of the residence, created a contact sheet and then pieced together enought of aa reasonable composite image that allowed me to see the "bones" of this home. This rough composite collage gave me the diving board that allowed me to begin the project.
I nearly always work from photographs as each piece takes many, many hours to complete ~ but getting the color just right on this home was a very elusive challenge. After several false starts, the owners and I sat on their stone wall and mixed paint colors on my palette until we were able to agree upon a shade that we both thought did justice to the house. Thus the final home portrait that you see here.
"THE BEAUTIFUL DAY"
CHALLENGE: PAINTING A HANDSOME (NOT TOO CUTE) HOME PORTRAIT OF A CONTEMPORARY HOME ~ This beautiful, contemporary stucco residence wrapped around a Kirkland hillside overlooking Lake Washington. The owners appreciated my style, but were worried the finished product might look too "cute." They wanted the artwork to be appropriate to the architecture and suitable for hanging in their home.
SOLUTION: MORE PERSPECTIVE & A CHANGE IN FOCUS ~ I actually did two things that helped me create a successful portrait of this attractive contemporary residence.
I introduced more perspective into the piece than I was using in my balance of my work at the time, using several photographs of the property. Although I focused on the architectural, I did my best to make this piece have a more realstic, authentic feel. Plus, I kept my rendition of the home fairly simple.
The wooded forest and thick foliage around the house was varied and lush, so I spent a lot of time and care recreating the natural surrounding. The greenbelt was teeming with all kinds wildlife and birds ~ families of eagles, hawks and seagulls, so some of those s winged their way into this painting.
When I delivered the artwork to the owners, the couple was so delighted with the final results that they requested a wedding-theme alteration of a print so that we could create invitations for their New Year's Eve wedding at home. Click on my Bridal to see this artwork.
THE PERFECT GIFT
For many years, I've built a reputation with my renditions of remarkable homes, landmarks, parks and other architectural settings and subjects. I'm now painting portraits as well. The three paintings below portray our granddaughter Addison, grandson Austin and my dear friend Jennifer Petras' little ball-of-fire son Jared. I completed these works as special gifts in honor of the kids' birthdays. Our daughter Leah gave birth to our grandson Connor not long ago, so a portrait of this little guy is "in-the-works" as well for his birthday in August.
IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS ~ Who was it that said that? Brilliant Martha Stewart? She's right. It is all in the details.
To create a truly compelling portrait, I've learned that the secret is more than painting a pretty picture. The key lies in learning about each subject and discovering whatever it is that holds their interest and makes their personality shine through.
During this stage before I put my paintbrush to canvas, I look at dozens of photographs and spend a little time with the subject, if possible. I interview family members (or owners if its a pet) and this helps me plan the portrait.
I take lots of notes, listing of all the things about my subject(s) that make them unique. This includes favorite colors, toys they play with the most, what they like to wear, favorite treats, songs they sing ~ and most importantly, what their smiles and eyes say about them.
The "getting-to-know-you" stage is crucial ~ almost more important than actually painting the portrait. The more I know about the subject(s), the more the finished work will capture their essence. This step iis invaluable in helping me create the results their parents are hoping for.
MY THREE SUBJECTS
"Austin at Play" ~ As they say, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Like his daddy Kevin, our grandson Austin Lee loves absolutely anything and everything electronic.
He's not at all like "G-Dub" as our grandchildren call my husband. Doug looks at computers as an annoying means to an end. If he never had to turn another device on other than his iPad and iPhone, he would be the happiest guy on this planet.
The portrait above captured his complete fascination with his birthday cell phone. It was pretend, of course, but equipped with lots of realistic "bells & whistles" that kept him coming back to it time and time again during his party. Austin received a huge pile of gifts at this birthday party. Who knew this one would be his favorite?
Of all the photos I took of him that day, the one that I used to create this portrait shows how much this little guy intensely focuses when playing with his toys. He's not smiling, but content nonetheless ~ only looking up for a couple seconds before going back to what held his interest that day.
"Baby Bunny Addison" ~ Our eldest granddaughter is a very feminine young lady. This aspect of her personality has persisted and developed ~ even though she's much older than when I painted this piece.
She's on a soccer team, but also takes dance lessons from her Auntie Leah. With the lovely, frilly costumes she gets to wear at competition, my guess is that she loves dancing more.
When I painted this piece, Addison had just turned two-years-old. That Easter Sunday, she was happily wearing this sweet yellow frock, a gift from one of her other doting grandmothers. The outfit was topped off with white furry pink and white bunny ears and rainbow-striped embroidered "Mary Jane" slippers.
That holiday, we gave her a basket filled with chocolate bunnies, Beatrix Potter storybooks and a family of rubber duckies. One of these bright yellow ducks really caught her attention and she carried it around in her fist for the rest of her visit that day. She even had it on her lap at dinnertime ~ not usual protocol, but is was a holiday!
These simple details plus a few spring blossoms provided inspiration for not only this artwork of sweet Addison, but of the special family Easter holiday.
"Precocious Jared Petras" ~ My friend Jennifer and I have been close friends since we worked together for over a decade in the 1990s. In 2015, I gave her the original of this piece to celebrate her 50th birthday.
I helped Jenn with her bridal invitations ~ and later when she was pregnant, I promised her that when her little guy showed signs of a real personality, I'd paint his portrait.
Being around Jared, I soon found that in addition to being a blur of activity, he was a most curious little boy. He loved our back yard in Sammamish ~ especially the fruit trees. He was still a little wobbly on his feet, but I could tell that it would be just a matter of time before he'd be off the ground, climbing anything that presented the opportunity.
I did my best to capture his wide-eyed wonder in the portrait above. His mom, dad and grandparents loved the results.
My husband Dougie and I are "cat" people. The brother and sister Siamese-Burmese kitties that you see below left in front of the Campbell House were Doug and my constant companions for well over half of our marriage life. We lost Andy in 2011 at Christmastime and Sophie in autumn of 2014. They still find their way into many of my paintings and anchor the bottom of each of the pages on this web site. The painting below is a very realistic portrait of these two beauties and is the cover art for a book due out soon about the historic Campbell House.
I completed the second piece years earlier for my sister Marilee this April. For as long as I can remember, she's always had a friendly feline or two "ruling the roost" at her house. She and her fiancé Ron LOVE their kitties. Sadly, just before a rather "milestone" birthday in April, Cookie (the top black and white one) passed away after an unsuccessful bout of trying to regulaate her diabetes-related issues. To say that there is still a huge missing space in their lives is putting it mildly. I painted this piece in honor of Cookie. Blessedly, Lady (the tabby-cat on the bottom is doing her best to love them up and fill that void.
QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMISSIONING A PORTRAIT?
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