Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A HOUSE Portrait? Yep, a house portrait!

Last year, I got a request to paint this cute rowhouse in South Philly which was for a Christmas gift.  How hard could a house be?  Harder than I thought!  Making sure everything was in proportion, prospective, squared up right, the right distance...a little math-y for me.  I could have traced it, but that seemed weird, I would have gone crazy tracing all those bricks and THEN painting them in.

Lucky for me, my honey is a former billboard painter who had lots of tricks up his sleeve for laying out pictorials, and he shared them with me.  Actually, I use a lot of little sign painter's tricks in all my artwork!

Besides the house, itself, my customer wanted flowerboxes and a filled planter.  AND a kitty!  Can you see him in the upstairs window?  I painted this on a wood panel, which made framing super easy for her.

I used acrylic paint, which was really fun with the curtains.  After I painted the insides of the windows almost black, I just thinned white way down on my palette and next to that, a big blob of white right from the tube.  I dipped a squared off brush into the thin wash and picked up some of the thick on just one corner and painted the folds of the curtains.  The thin paint made them look gauzy, and the thick made the folds, all in one action. 

Now, that is a trick I picked up from my "decorative" painting days.  Years ago, I played with decorative country painting.  I painted hundreds of geese and old fashioned Santas, etc.  It gave me confidence that I could develop the skills to do unique pieces, rather than the factory-like churning out of identical (but well-selling!) pieces following patterns.

The bricks were a challenge.  I tried painting the mortar, but couldn't get it thin enough or regular enough with a brush.  I experimented with my beloved colored pencil and that worked great over the dried acrylic.  So this is a mixed media piece!  The trick was making the mortar straight...but not too straight.  I took a piece of straight cardboard and dinged it up and carved just a tad of a curve here and there and used that to make my lines.  I moved it a little each time.

So, lots of tricks on this one!  I think it makes a great gift and I know the recipient of this one loved it!  Hope you do too!
I'm artist, Robin Zebley, writing about my art and how I create it here on my blog.  Here's my pet portrait site, lots of samples and details about how to commission a portrait of a pet, child or HOUSE!  Join my Facebook Art Page !  Lots of updates and occasional contests and giveaways.  Thanks for visiting, and if you want to read my most current post, just click on the banner at the top!  Robin

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