CAPTURING A SPECIAL SETTING OR SUBJECT
A SPECIAL PROCESS ~ Creating original fine art for clients is one of the most rewarding things about being a fine artist. More often than not, clients become friends in the process.
"HOME SWEET HOME" ON OVERBLUFF ROAD ~ There are dozens of architectural styles, and I appreciate all of them. However, the details I'm drawn to the most are often found in handsome older structures ~ a deep fascination with me since some 40+ years ago.
In the image here, I'm exhibiting 18 of my paintings at the 2015 Spokane Preservation Advocates Tour of Historic Homes at Russ and Sara Weaver-Lundberg's three-story "Storybook" cottage on Spokane's, Overblfuff Road. The portrait I created for the Lundbergs is on the top left side of the buffet.
Highlight ~ Learn about Sara's connection to the tiny brick structure on Grand near Saint John the Evangelist, home to Lindaman's Bistro for years. Find its portrait in the South Hill Collection pdf under "Public Buildings ~ Beloved Churches, Schools and Small Businesses."
PERSONAL PORTRAITS, THE PROCESS, AND MORE ~ In addition to sharing fine art of "Home Sweet Homes," legendary landmarks, and other architectural beauties, you'll also find portraits of people and pets.
See my "Loved Ones and Pets in Painted Portraits" section below, plus learn about the portrait process and challenges I've solved to complete fine art for clients.
OUR "CASTLES" ~ For many of us, our homes are our "castles." This rings true, especially in the past couple of years with COVID challenges. Months of social distancing has had us polishing our residences with home improvement projects. Whether we were owners or renters, many of us found ourselves falling in love again with our "Home Sweet Homes."
OUR "THUMBPRINT" ~ In July 2020, Doug and I sold our vintage Craftsman by Spokane, WA's Manito Park and moved to a pretty gated community on Moran Prarie. We are enjoying the fruits of our "updating labors" over the past two-plus years.
Outside, the landscaping is finished and the nuisance Honey Locust tree in the front replaced with an Ornamental Pear. We painted miles of oak woodwork and cupboards (done professionally) ~ and had over a dozen matching six-panel doors installed. The "sea of oak" is now a polished white ~ and looks fresh and new!
Last on the list was new furniture for the back deck this year. Finally our cottage is all we hoped it would be ~ warm, friendly and inviting. Doug and I love to entertain, and we are happy that life is slowly but surely returning to normal in our "neck of the woods."
SEASONAL DECORATING ~ We love changing our home's personality with accessories to reflect Mother Nature's handiwork as seasons change. Sally Mom did this in all the Simpson family homes we lived in and taught us well. She, my sisters Marilee, Peggy and I have shared a text string for years with "show and tell" photos flying back and forth as each season moves into the next.
A SPECIAL GIFT ~ If your home (or the home of someone you love) is a special "dream house," why not consider commissioning a portrait of it? Learn much more further down on this page.
I've created four "neighborhood" paintings since the mid-1970s. The most common size I use for my most works is 8x10 inches, but all of the details I wanted to include in these pieces required them to be larger (11x14-inch and 16x20-inch).
"SPRINGTIME COMES TO SIMPSON STREET" (2007 to 2016) ~ Pictured below are the original created in 2007 and a revision of it in 2012. Above find the most recent version finished in 2016. There are many changes I want to make on this piece as so much has happened in the last six years. Oldest granddaughter Addison became a tall lovely teenager ~ with Austin recently becoming one as well. Kevin's wife Taryn delivered Piper Elizabeth in March 2018 and Harrison Allen in September 2020. Add to that, the challenge of weaving our Moran Prairie place into this painting well. Suble changes have take place to the art since 2007, but this year's revision will be a BIG one!
Highlight ~ See my December 2019 portrait of Doug, me and all five grandkids (except Harrison Allen who came after I painted this piece) below in the "Personal Portraits of Loved Ones and Pets" section. "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" is our most recent family portrait celebrating the grandkids.
"FINE FALL FINISH" (2010) ~ I painted the artwork (below left) as a gift for our contractors, Lance Elliott and Chris Garrett (Elliott Construction) when they worked on our 18th Avenue Craftsman. They received prints after the extensive renovation of our 1937 bungalow that grew from six-week project into a six-month one. I pictured Doug and me celebrating the "FINISH" with Lance, Chris, their sweethearts and pets at an Autumn picnic, positioning their homes beneath ours as part of the "neighborhood." A huge undertaking with challenges at every turn, they finished the project beautifully. They were surprised and delighted with the gift of the "Fine Fall Finish" artwork.
"THE PEGGY PLACES" (1976) ~ I created this as a wedding gift for sis Peggy and husband Jeff Barton, honoring all of the homes Peggy lived in before their marriage ~ including the tiny ambler near San Francisco Jeff bought for his bride-to-be. Peggy still has this fine art, and the two are a happily retired very active couple these days.
Highlight ~ These two images show in a very real way how my "Americana" style has evolved between 1976 to present ~ refined with perspective and many more details.
"CANNON HILL COTTAGES" (2016) ~ This art pictures two pretty Colonials ~ the first, a classic white one with green shutters and the second, a yellow two-story barn-roofed Dutch Colonial. Both overlook Cannon Hill Park and pond on the Spokane's South Hill. Doug and I love this area and many of our friends live there. Pleasant evenings frequently find us walking the pond's perimeter.
The families who lived in these two Colonials their homes for decades have fond memories of good times shared here.
In Summer, the park has always been filled with picnickers (the theme here). Moms pushed strollers and kids played on swings and climbed on the stone bridges that spanned the pond when it was over twice its current size.
Folks of all ages still ice skate on it. Visitors will find boys playing some pretty brisk hockey in Winter. Every now and then, someone starts a bonfire so revelers can toast their backsides between outings on the ice. Is that barndy in the thermoses?
PARK HISTORY ~ In early 1900, the park was a brick yard. When clay deposits became exhausted, the Adams family (relatives of both Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams) donated the land for Adams Park, later renamed for early Spokane developer A.M. Cannon.
MEMORIES ~ Before I finished this piece, in 2016, Lynn Nevers DeWinter asked me to create prints of the yellow house (image below) for Christmas gifts of memories for her siblings.
Highlight ~ Five Holy Names classmates lived in these two homes ~ Carly and Lynn Nevers, Bridget and Lana Lavin as kids, and Kay Richardson Edmonds as a young wife. In 2016, Kay bought the original for husband Todd and had me add grandkids to the sidewalk in front of their home. They've been there nearly 40 years.
COMMISSIONED FINE ARTWORK IN YOUR CHOICE OF THREE MEDIA
NOTE ~ Find more in the "The Portrait Process" section further down on this page which shares everything you need to know about commissioning fine art.
FEES VARY ~ The cost for a commission is based on both the amount of time it takes me to complete the portrait and on your choice of media. In other words, I record my hours and charge accordingly. Some media inherently takes longer than others. For exampble, 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 33 works of fine art ~ 22 portraits of "Home Sweet Homes" and other architectural beauties ~ plus 11 paintings of people and-much loved pets. As mentioned above, I work in three different media. The fine art on this page honors several themes. Most of these are commissioned pieces ~ especially the home portraits. Others were created as special gifts for folks I love, especially some of the artwork of people and pets.
6 ARCHITECTURAL THEMES WITH 2 FINE ART PAINTINGS IN EACH ~ INCLUDING 2 INTERIORS
HOMES SWEET HOMES AND GARDENS ~ (OUR SPOKANE MORAN PRAIRIE COTTAGE AND SIS' MARILEE'S KENMORE PATIO AND GARDEN SHED ~ BOTH IN WASHINGTON)
MARVELOUS MANSIONS ~ (SPOKANE, NORTH SIDE BEAUTY WITH A WAGON-WHEEL BORDER AND KANAB, UTAH'S "LITTLE HOLLYWOOD" PARRY LODGE)
BEACH BEAUTIES ~ (SUMMER WEEKEND GETAWAYS ON COEUR D'ALENE, ID AND PEND OREILLE RIVER, WA)
FRIENDS AND FAMILY HOUSES ~ (COMING TOGETHER WITH THOSE WE LOVE ON SPOKANE'S SOUTH HILL AND DOWNINGTON, PA'S STATELY TWO-STORY)
INVITING INTERIORS ~ (SPOKANE, WA'S CAMPBELL HOUSE SMALL GUEST ROOM WITH KITTIES AND TEDDY BEARS AND CAREFREE, AZ'S AUTHENITIC ENGLISH TEA ROOM
WINTER WONDERLAND SCENES ~ (BEAUTIFUL SNOWY SCENES ON ROCKWOOD BOULEVARD AND MANITO BOULEVARD ON SPOKANE'S SOUTH HILL)
6 ARCHITECTURAL THEMES WITH 2 EACH PEN, INK AND PASTELS (PEN AND INK DRAWINGS WITH COLORS ADDED USING PASTELS)
VIVACIOUS VICTORIANS ~ (SEATTLE CAPITOL HILL MANSION CONVERTED INTO OFFICE SPACE SKETCHED WITH SPRING AND SUMMER THEMES)
VACATION "VILLAS" ~ (LOON LAKE FAMILY BEACH GETAWAY AND A MISSION SQUARE AT ALTA MESA, AZ PATIO HOME)
HOMES AND COTTAGE GARDENS ~ (PRETTY PLACES SURROUNDED BY COTTAGE GARDENS ON SPOKANE'S SOUTH HILL AND KIRKLAND'S LAKE WASHINGTON SHORELINE)
2 ARCHITECTURAL THEMES WITH 2 PEN AND INK SKETCHES IN EACH ~ INCLUDING A PORTRAIT OF A BOAT AND A PATIO
HOME SWEET HOMES AND GARDENS ~ (INLAND NORTHWEST HOMES WITH COTTAGE GARDENS ON SPOKANE'S NORTH SIDE, WA AND AT HAYDEN LAKE, ID}
GORGEOUS GETAWAYS ~ (JUST-A-TUG WATERCRAFT ON PUGET SOUND IN THE SAN JUANS, WA ANDA PRETTY PATIO IN PALM SPRINGS, CA.)
OTHER FUN OPTIONS WITH YOUR COMMISSIONED ART . . .
HOLIDAY CARDS ~ For several clients, I've painted directly on canvas reproduction of their painting (or a fine paper print of their drawing if the artwork lends itself to that), adding Holiday details like wreaths, snow, family and of course, a glittering evegreen in the window. Voilé! Artwork for Holiday cards!
WEDDING INVITATIONS ~ For one engaged couple, after painting a portrait of their home, 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 their at-home ceremony for all their guests. See the portrait further down on this page under "Chalenges & Creative Solutions ~ 'The Beautiful Day'" or visit the Bridal page.
AN EARLY SELF-PORTRAIT, A TRIBUTE TO MY SISTERS AND OUR EARLY DEPARTED KITTIES, PLUS 5 PAINTINGS OF OUR GRANDKIDDOS
BEST MEDIA ~ As it can be a challenge to recreate a true likeness of a family member, dear friend, or a beloved furry caompanion, acrylic-on-canvas paintings work best for portraits. It allows for easy tweaking to achieve perfect likenesses. Pen and ink to paper is much more difficult to change as, (simply said), once the ink dries, it's dry. More often than not, line drawings, including those embellished with pastels, are difficult to impossible change.
EARLY EFFORTS AND HOW THIS GENRE BEGAN ~ As mentioned above, for decades I've built a following with my renditions of "Home Sweet Homes," legendary landmarks, pretty parks and gardens, schools, churches ~ and other subjects. What can I say? Fine architecture was indeed my first love.
It took me a few decades, but in 1986, I "stepped out of my comfort zone," and attempted a self-portrait. The results however were disappointing, and I felt this artwork lacked heart, warmth ~ and didn't "feel" like me. 10 years later, I tried a second one, picturing three kitties (Chloe, K.C. and Betty-Kitty) who had passed away, each dearly missed by me and sisters. After painting the cats into the piece, I tucked me, Marilee and Peggy into it as well on window seats in the background. Although a bit stylized, this art insprired by the loss of our friendly felines was definitely warm and appealing ~ thus its title. Finally, In February 2004, I finished a special anniversary gift for Doug, picturing all the members of our 2000 wedding party, and bordered with blossoms we chose for our ceremony. This memory-filled work has graced our master bedroom ever since. See it on my Bridal page.
OUR DARLING GRANDKIDDOS ~ As they arrived, I created portraits of our grandkids when they were toddlers. In Winter 2019, I completed two Ward family pieces, the first picturing our five grandkids. We gave framed prints of these as Christmas gifts to son Matt and wife Heidi, son Kevin and wife Taryn, and daughter Leah and husband Sean. I added Doug and me to the artwork and the second one served as our Holiday card art that year. We love both of these!
'"PIPER LOVES PETER RABBIT" (2020)
Sweet Miss Piper has always been irresistable! When she was born to Kevin and Taryn in Spring 2018, I began sharing items from my Beatrix Potter collection with her, thus her portrait bordered with carrots and daisies.
Many Peter Rabbit toys came from a trip I took with Sally Mom to England's Lakes District near Windermere, where Beatrix Potter and husband William Heelis had once shared life tat Hill Top Farm. I had such respect for this artist who began her career as a fine artist in her middle-age years.
Sally Mom and I lunched at the Beatrix Potter Tea Shop which was filled to the rafters with dozens of delightful gift items ~ storybooks, stuffed animals, tea sets, quilts, and more. Some of these goodies found their way into Piper's bedroom and more will follow.
This painting was inspired by photos Taryn sent us of Piper in Spring 2020. In September, when Harrison Allen was born at about the same time Kevin marked his big milestone 40th birthday, Doug and I sent both Piper and Austin's original paintings to the couple ~ plus a blanket I knitted for new addition Harrison Allen ~ a double celebration!
"AUSTIN AT PLAY" (2010)
As they say, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Like daddy Kevin, from a very early age grandson Austin loved everything electronic. Not at all like "G-Dub" as our grandkids call Doug, who often looks at his iPad as a "necessary evil."
The art above captured Austin's fascination with his birthday gift of a cell phone. It was pretend of course, but equipped with lots of realistic "bells and whistles" that kept him coming back to it again and again at his party. Who knew this little toy cell phone would be his favorite gift?
Of all the photos I took of Austin at this second birthday party, the one I used for this artwork showed how much he loved his very own electronic calling tool. He's not smiling, but very content regardless ~ only looking up for a couple seconds before going back to the only toy that held his interest that day.
"BABY BUNNY ADDISON" (2009)
Our oldest granddaughter has always been a feminine young lady. This aspect of her personality has persisted and developed ~ even though she's a teenager now as shown above in the "Let It Snow" portraits. She's played soccer for years, but also took dance lessons from her Auntie Leah. With the elaborate costumes she wears at competitions, our guess is she loves dancing more than soccer.
When I painted her as a toddler on Easter Sunday 2008, she was wearing a sweet yellow frock that was a gift from another of her doting grandmothers. Her outfit was topped off with furry pink and white bunny ears and rainbow-striped "Mary Janes."
Doug and I gave her an Easter basket filled with chocolate bunnies, a Beatrix Potter storybook, and two yellow rubber ducks. One of these ducks caught her eye, and she carried it around the rest of the day. She even had it on her lap at dinner ~ not usual protocol at mealtime in her high chair of course ~ but it was Easter afterall! These simple details plus a few tulips and crocuses inspired this portrait of Addison ~ preserving memories for all of us of that special Spring Holiday.
OUR BELOVED PET COMPANIONS ~ SOME WHO HAVE JUST JOINED OUR HOUSEHOLDS, SOME DEARLY DEPARTED ~ AND MORE
PET PORTRAITS CREATED FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS ~ In the past decade, I've painted over a dozen pet portraits for my brothers, sisters and dear friends. Some have been Christmas presents, often with snow softly falling like sis's "Peggy & Jeff's Pooches." Others were created as hoped for birthday gifts as in Marilee's "Kindred Spirits Kitties." Brother Bob and wife Jan's "Autumn Outing ~ Bryce, Spike, and Pumpkin" was a poignant memento of two out of their three fury pals who had sadly passed away. Cleints commissed others in this collection "just because"!
NEW! "CUTE CACTUS KITTTY" ~ My dear friend Linda Ebmer added a darling "rescue" kitty to her and husband Joe's Southwest desert getaway this Spring, so for her milestone April birthday gift, I created this portrait of her sweet grey and white furry pal with Arizona's signature Red Mountain and colorful Spring wildflowers in the background ~ three of Linda's favorite things!
STEP 1 ~ INITIAL CONSULTATION MEETING
All of my work is custom, so the first step is a consultation. This is best done in-person, but can in some instances be a FaceTime meeting. Often times, I need to physically visit the site as I may need to take some photographs. Depending on how the meeting is handled, I'll share samples in-person or on-line, discuss your wishes, and see what images you may already have you can share. Sometimes, depending on quality, I can work from personal photos if you live in another part of the country. I'll need long shots as well as detailed close-ups. Once again, with my "Americana" style, it's ALL in the details. We want "personality" to shine through!
ALL of my work is copyrighted. After I create it, I reserve the right to use it to help promote my business, i.e. on my web site, in calendars, cards, etc. Copyrighted means you may NOT reproduce it in ANY manner without my written permission.
STEP 2 ~ PLANNING THE PROJECT
I create a "thumbnail" sketch and we make notes on the following ~
STEP 3 ~ 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 beginning of the project, the less need for costly revisions later.
When we meet to hand off your "masterpiece," I receive the balance plus sales tax where applicable.. In addition to your handsomely framed piece, I always include a print or a packet of art cards as my gift. CONGRATULATIONS!
NOTE ~ Once again, a gentle reminder that ALL of my work is copyrighted. You may NOT reproduce it in ANY manner without my written permission.
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 challenges with their solutions here. Each has the artwork coupled with its photograph.
"CANNON HILL COZY" ~ (SWEET BRICK COTTAGE OVERLOOKING CANNON HILL POND, SPOKANE, WA)
CHALLENGE ~ EXPEDITING THE PROJECT ~ This pretty blond brick bungalow with green and cream trim overlooked Cannon Hill Pond on Spokane's South Hill. It served as the Pat and Janie Shelledy family home for decades. This family absolutely LOVED their home.
When I began this piece, Janie Shelledy had already passed away and her husband Pat was in declining health, spending his last days in a hospital room. His adult children Dave and Patty were there with Pat much of the time, sharing stories and memories about family reunions, Christmases past, misadventures growing up, and more. These conversations inspired 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 throughout the remainder of this life.
SOLUTION ~ PREPARATION, PLANNING & RESEARCH ~ With some direction from me, Dave and Patty went to work digging through old albums and boxes of photos. Blessedly, the two not only found great snapshots, they put their heads together and collaborated on an overview of the history of three generations of their family.
This sister and brother gave me everything I needed, so 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 kiddos playing in a huge pile of leaves on the driveway.
Pat was moved to tears at this "story of his life" on canvas. In 2013, the original artwork went to Dave Shelledy on his milestone 60th birthday ~ the perfect gift as this home spawned so many cherished memories.
"BOWERS OF FLOWERS AT THE BUIOCCHI'S" ~ (LARGE FAMILY HOME ON A VERY STEEP HILLSIDE, KIRKLAND, WA)
CHALLENGE ~ CREATING "TRUE" COLOR ~ There were actually inter-related challenges here. This sprawling two-story was perched on a very steep wooded hillside overlooking a lush greenbelt above Lake Washington's Yarrow Bay in Kirkland, WA.
Other than hiring a helicopter pilot to fly me over the property so I could shoot the photographs necessary for this project (these days, perhaps the use of a drone), I was in a complete quandary as to how to finish the painting while keeping its architectural integrity. And, not only was the home nearly impossible to photograph, the heavy shadows created by the tall trees in full leaf made the color of the home's exterior change substantially at different times of the day. There were many shades of green. Which one to choose?
SOLUTION ~ PHOTOSHOP AND SEVERAL ON-SITE CONFERENCES ~ Adobe's PhotoShop allows designers to do practically anything. I've used this software for decades and it's one of my favorites because of its flexibility and myriad of options. I took lots of digitals of the house, created a contact sheet, and then pieced together enough of a reasonable composite that allowed me to see the "bones" of this home. This rough composite collage gave me the diving board to begin the challenging task of completing its portrait.
GETTING THE COLOR RIGHT ~ I nearly always work from a collection of several photographs (often as many as thrity) as each piece takes many, many hours to complete ~ forty to sixty or more. Getting the color just right was tough. After several false starts, the owners and I sat on their stone wall and mixed paint on my palette until we were able to agree upon the shade of green they thought did justice to their home ~ thus the final portrait that you see here.
"THE BEAUTIFUL DAY" ~ (HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY HOME NEAR LAKE WASHINGTON, KIRKLAND, WA)
CHALLENGE ~ PAINTING A HANDSOME (RATHER THAN "CUTE") PORTRAIT OF A CONTEMPORARY HOME ~ This beautiful, contemporary stucco residence was wrapped around a Kirkland hillside overlooking Lake Washington. The owners appreciated my style, but were worried the finished product might look too "cute" for their home's modern, sleek interior. They wanted the artwork to be appropriate to their neighborhood, the landscaping, and the setting.
SOLUTION ~ MORE PERSPECTIVE AND A CHANGE IN FOCUS ~ I actually did two things that helped me create a successful portrait of this attractive contemporary residence.
FIRST ~ I introduced more perspective into the piece than I had been using in most of my paintings at the time, taking photographs of the property from many angles.
Although I focused on the important architectural details, I did my best to make this piece have a more realistic, authentic architectural renduring feel. Plus, I kept my recreation of the property simpler than many of my previous home portraits.
SECOND ~ 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 surroundings. The greenbelt was full of wildlife and birds including families of eagles, hawks and seagulls, so some of those winged creatures made their way into this painting.
When I delivered this piece to the owners, they were so delighted with the final piece that they requested a wedding-theme alteration of a print to create invitations for their New Year's Eve wedding at home. Click on my Bridal to see this artwork.
GOD BLESS OUR BELOVED PETS . . . MAY THEY LIVE FOREVER IN OUR MEMORIES!
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ARTWORK OR CONTENT?
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