Process, Process, Process!

by Susan Stillman September 3, 2018

Creating a Home Portrait painting is not about copying a photo. Like any research project, I start by collecting as much visual information as I can amass along with the stories and ideas my clients bring to me. Then comes the process of putting it all together in a sketch, where we can begin to see what the final painting will be. Trees are moved or removed. Inevitable distortions from the photographs are amended. Lost details are recovered. It all comes together as a whole at the sketch stage.

When I have my clients’ approval, I transfer the sketch up to the canvas.

Fenwick House

Their vacation home was the third painting commissioned by this CT family. Note the angle of the house, the incomplete stone course on the seawall, and the inability to see the garden, porch, and terrace in this view from the water that we’ve chosen.

In the painting we’ve straightened the front face of the house, continued the stone for the whole sea wall, showed the water and beach in an ideal moment, and included all the lush living areas that are hidden in the photos. I’ve also changed the perspective on the dock to keep it from stealing the focus from the house. My point of view is as if I’m floating a bit over the water.

Greenwich CT

In this beautiful Greenwich home, the trees are a favorite feature, but we have to do a lot of shaping and trimming in order to direct your eye to the house, where it belongs. Note the left side of the house is totally obscured, and you can’t see the charming outbuildings to the left of the property.

Here the trees were included but significantly subdued. The ornamental tree to the left of the house is in bloom, and the details of a garage door, the dormers and cupola are included. We also can see the shed and fence on the far left, as well as the three pups in their favorite napping spot.

Wilmington, NC

My current project is the third painting I’ve done for this client who recently moved south. Since it is far away from NY, I am using her photos to put this Home Portrait together, and she has done a fantastic job gathering all the information I will need. Note the large tree in the foreground which will have to be eliminated.  I will include the wall in front, but by using a higher point of view I’ll be able to see the important elements that are hidden behind it.

Here is the sketch. You can see how the front entrance will be the center of interest, and the lovely gate and trellis will frame it. We see the water from the driveway and from a breezeway on the right side. The favorite trees behind the wall will all be included, as well as the flower boxes, front flower beds and crepe myrtle in the foreground. I’m excited to paint this beautiful house! Please come back to see it finished in the next update.