A Difficult Space, An Inspired Solution

by Susan Stillman October 15, 2015

The making of each Home Portrait is a unique and individual experience. This project presented an unusual challenge that my clients and I were able to solve together.

When they were given a Home Portrait as a gift, they started looking around the house for an ideal spot to place the painting. As it happened, the family’s mantle had been empty, waiting for the right piece of art shaped to it’s extremely long and narrow shape.


Cheng Zheng Kui Chinese 1674

Inspired by the format of an oriental scroll, they thought about the possibility of showing multiple points of view in the long horizontal layout. This gave us the opportunity to take all the features of the property that would have been hidden in the backyard and bring them to the front, spreading out the design lengthwise.

Taking on this challenge, I first photographed the property on a bright and sunny day when the light and shadows showed everything to its best advantage.



The next step was to prepare a pencil sketch to the scale of the finished painting, so that we could place it over the mantel and see how the final painting would work in the room.  On the sketch, the clients were able to make notes and comments, and we made all our decisions about what would be in flower and what was important to include.


Here is the photographic view of the front of the house.  You can see in the painted version below how we adjusted the perspective to be able to view it properly.



The hidden backyard pool is brought into view on the right side of the canvas.


This is an historic tree which we wanted to highlight. The garden in the distance, also hidden, was uncovered to extend the left side of the canvas.



Here it is in it’s home, custom designed for the mantel. The finished canvas has dimensions of 74” wide by 18” high.