Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Commission #1: "Memories of Home"

I promised before Christmas that I would show you all the commissioned paintings I've been working on lately. Most of them were intended as gifts, so I couldn't spoil the surprise and reveal them before the holiday. Well, now that the decorations have been packed away and things are getting back to normal around here, I'm ready for the big reveal! This first one is a picture of a simple little white house in Smyrna, Georgia, a place filled with happy memories for the family who commissioned the painting. (My friend, Kellie, and her cousins all went together to have the painting done for their parents.)

Ink & watercolor, 12" x 8" on 140 lb. paper

To begin the painting process, I painted wet-in-wet washes to suggest the shadowy woods behind the home. The foreground trees were built up with light, medium and dark layers of color.

I used sponging to indicate some of the upper canopy of leaves and branches and added a touch of spattering for texture and movement.

Grandma and Grandpa are shown sitting on the screen porch watching TV, which was Grandpa's favorite way to pass the time during hot Georgia summers..

To paint the complicated lattice, I masked off the strips with masking fluid, then painted the shadowy areas behind the lattice. After the masking was removed, I indicated the cast shadows from the Rose of Sharon bushes.

The pink crepe myrtle bushes and magnolia tree in the front yard featured prominently in the family's memories, so I included them in the painting.

And Grandma's green and white hostas were her pride and joy, so I couldn't leave them out.

I even included Grandpa's maroon Chevy Lumina in the carport where he parked it each day.

And then there's Todd, Grandma's beloved Pomeranian. The painting just wouldn't have been complete without him, and the birdbath that Grandpa painted blue each spring.

What you may not realize is that none of this stuff was there in the reference photo that Kellie gave me to work from....

Her notes and verbal descriptions were a big help in planning the sketch, and luckily I was able to find another view of the property on Google Earth...

Google's image
but the rest was just me working my magic!


Kellie tells me there wasn't a dry eye in the house on Christmas day when the painting and prints were opened. The whole family gathered around to examine the artwork, smiling as they discovered all the personal touches I had included. It's a house portrait, yes, but it's so much more than that to this family. It's a touching tribute to home and love and family. A reminder that it doesn't matter how humble the home, as long as it's filled with love.


  1. Thank you Leslie for letting us share the delightful painting you did of your friends parents home. I loved the way you added things and left out unimportant things. What is the saying ' Artists prerogative ' Recently a friend of ours gave us a water colour painting he had done of our house . I wish he had done that !! He painted every weed & dead flower he had seen, in the photo he used as a guide. Your friends will treasure that picture and pass it on through the generations.

  2. Your painting is beautiful!! I love all the added touches. I know this family will treasure it!

  3. Wow, great work Leslie. My neighbor surprised us one year with a painting of our house with all the woods behind it at far as you could see. There is a highway in the background now, and she wanted to give me a painting of it before the highway was built. I love it so!

  4. Leslie, this is just lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. How lovely! What an awesome gift. If only I had something like this of my grandparents. Bravo!


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