I have happily spent the past two months creating a family portrait painting for a Washington D.C. client. It was to be a surprise for his wife on their 30th anniversary and started out as a fairly straightforward project. My client wanted only a few changes to an emailed reference photo of the family in front of a fireplace. I suggested he send some photos of individual family members and asked if he might like a prettier background that was personally meaningful. That's when the fun began!
By the time the portrait painting was completed, my client had uploaded 279 photos of the family and their backyard to my Dropbox. I took additional photos of my husband modeling clothing and some of our wicker furniture. It was a daunting project, but I really appreciated having so many photos. I love “playing detective” when creating new images and many of my client’s photos provided “clues.”
The portrait took on a life of its own, using a different reference photo as the basis. It pushed me to a whole new skill level as I reconstructed the family pose, referring to numerous photos as I sketched and painted. I have to admit it was scary at times. I figured this painting would either be my magnum opus or my swan song!
Not only was this portrait the most challenging I have ever worked on, but also one of the most enjoyable! My client was great to work with, encouraging me and cheering me on through the entire project. After a while his kids joined in the fun and there was much phoning and emailing back and forth. We all got very excited about the anniversary surprise.
As the portrait painting was being completed, my client made screen savers from jpeg files I emailed of the work in progress. One day, Hillary Clinton was visiting his office and borrowed his desk. She noticed the screen saver on his monitor and oohed and aahed over the painting ... a thrill for me!
I received these emails from my client:
Our family painting is nothing short of mind-blowing! My wife LOVES it and can't wait to show it off prominently in our home. Thanks so much for this masterpiece, which was the hit of the party. I honestly cannot remember ever being this excited to give a gift to anyone. It's been an absolute delight working with you and I cannot thank you enough for making this the best anniversary I could dream of.
Finally had the electrician by today to properly light your masterpiece. We have been sitting here in our living room, with the TV and music off, just gazing in wonderment at your handiwork. We can't get over its beauty! Also today, I finally hung the other large one in the office. Everyone raved!