A couple of months back I received a call from someone who has since become a friend. Sandra Even and her husband Perry had an idea for a painting that was so ambitious she wondered if it was “crazy.” As I listened, I tended to agree but thought we should keep talking. It was basically to include ten family members, in period dress, in action, in front of their Spanish style house.
The house and patio as I photographed it on my first visit.
The house, a majestic piece of architecture in the Santa Ana hills, was to figure prominently with the people, positioned candidly and naturally out in front. The first challenge with that, however, was the pool . . . which was right where everyone would need to be.
The planned placement.
Assuming we’d figure a way to make it happen, we determined the size and the shape of the painting by architectural factors and furniture already in the home. As they’d been dreaming of this idea for some time, the place for the painting had been long reserved. It was to be the jewel in a very beautiful ring.
A quasi-sepia tone version of the final photo.
I figured if we could get a photo, I could make the painting. So they set a date, brought family members in from distant places, located and borrowed early-California garb, and with the help of photographer friends, we arranged the shoot. The idea was for each to be in natural pose, acting in a way that indicated their particular talents or activities. That’s Perry and Sandra bringing in the wine and the bread. Their parents are at a game of cards, a normal activity for them. Via photoshop magic, the group has been pulled out from the house and the pool is gone. For the photo, one dog represented two (again, photoshop).
Laying in the background.
Here’s the first and easiest step in the painting process . . . getting rid of all that white canvas (in this case, linen).
After the photo, the drawing is the most important step. This one’s in charcoal. Cartoon is the actual word for this stage, though it’s exacting work and there’s nothing “funny” about it.
The first stage of painting.
This, and the following, show stages of oil paint being applied. At first it took on a sepia look, reminiscent of early photography. But the idea was for full color, if somewhat muted, with the “period” clothing.
Faces and limbs established.
The whites of the garb began to add punch as well as a sense of unifying design across the width of painting. Why faces first? Because they are the most challenging and, in a portrait, most important.
Here the figures are all complete, but for some finishing touches. The red dog has been painted in thanks to a photo supplied later, as well as the still life on the table, the card game, etc.
The house painted.
Once a stranger who learned I was a painter asked if I paint houses. “Yes,” I said, “though with a very small brush.” Above is one example of such.
The final version. Click on picture for larger view.
By the time I was done, the earth had become brown, the sky bluer, the clouds brighter, the foliage fuller, the windows more reflective, a wall-display of crosses added in, and Sandra’s hair more flowing.
The painting’s new home within a home.
Here’s the painting on its day of delivery. Someday it may receive a frame; meantime, it is a piece of lasting pleasure, a “crazy” idea that worked.
Here’s a quote from Sandra Even following delivery: “We continue to spend time each evening gazing at our painting. It is profound and very meaningful to us. Those who have seen it are complimentary yet almost without words.”
I’m grateful, and happy that they’re happy.
Current and Upcoming Events
Thanks to the loan of a desert hideaway, we’re off to Tucson for a week of art-making. Will doubtless be reporting on results of that in an upcoming post.
NEW: Prints Available for all paintings
Giclee prints on canvas or watercolor paper are now available for order on virtually the full array of Hyatt Moore paintings. See “Store” above, or click here.
Blank Slate, the “literary” blog
The writing blog, Blank Slate, is viewable on this same website (top right). One recent post featured a painting my dad made, with historical meaning. Check it out. To subscribe, click here.
Semi-Private Coaching for Painters
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Mondays and Saturdays in Dana Point
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in Anne Moore studio
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