22 March 2013

Jessie and Sam

Jessie and Sam:

Mere weeks before MS blew up in my lap, I’d spent an afternoon painting a landscape study outdoors by the side of a neighborhood road. A woman stopped and admired the work I had propped up beside me. We talked for only a few minutes, then in her thick German accent, she wanted to know if I could do a portrait for her from an old photo. For sure, I can, ma’am. We exchanged particulars, size, price, and then I told her I would be back at that same spot the next morning if she decided to commission a portrait.

She was waiting in the morning light when I got there. She had a black and white photo of a couple sitting on their farmhouse porch. They were her husband’s parents, now gone. Her son, their grandson, was moving into a house on the property and she wanted to gift the portrait to him at the housewarming party.

“Do you want it in color?”
“Oh? Can you do that?”
“Yes, ma’am.”… I asked what color his eyes were, and she described the shade of blue then described every other possible color in the photo. She was charming, and I commented how much I loved her accent, it reminded me of my teens in Bavaria. We were fast friends.

She paid me half then, as discussed, and then before she left, I asked “What were their names?”

Her eyes lit that I would ask, “Jessie and Sam”.

So I started like I do all of my oil paintings… sketching it in with warm sienna, a natural base for any outcome, just to get it situated in the canvas to my liking, sharpening the shadows and erasing with thinner when needed and laying white in where I know the highest areas are going to be.

sienna sketch

 Then I started adding some color and sharpening details
 The finished portrait


She loved the finished painting, and hung it in an unused room until the housewarming.  I saw her a few weeks later. She reported that her husband found the painting, and loved it so much that he wanted to keep it. It hangs in the formal living room. He said, "I'm keeping it, he can have it when I die"



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Helen :) I enjoyed doing it. I usually do what I want, not so much to please anyone else, and this was a learning experience.


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