Home Portrait Commission

Home portrait


I received a local commission this month for a lovely two story brick house in the older section of Bloomington.  The woman was moving away from her long time residence to be closer to family and someone wanted to give her a nice memento of a home she had lived in for many decades.  It was a bit hard to get the pictures because it was to be a surprise, but stealth prevailed and we got the job done.

I wish there had been more colorful landscaping in the front, but I have the feeling she was no longer able to keep much up exotic landscaping.  There are nice flowers on the front porch, however, to add a little pop to the picture.  I also like the little wrought iron fence on top of the doorway and the curved railing.  They are fun little details and add visual interest.  I am coloring it with pastels instead of watercolor.  It was a larger size and I like doing brick with the pastels as it gives a richer color than the watercolors when the picture is bigger.


10,000 blades of grass…

10,000 blades of grass

10,000 blades of grass

….or at least that’s how it seems. Three and a half hours in, and all I’ve done is pasture.  That is about how long I can work before my eyes stop focusing on all of the little ink lines.  I do like it so far, though.  I plan to add some yellow and white wild flowers in the foreground to break up all of the green.  Fortunately, the barn is classic red and the house is white.  This is definitely going to be a test of my positive/negative space skills.

More grass and then the trees are next on the agenda.  Last will be the house as the pictures show 2 different facades – one with a screened porch and door and the other with a simple railing only so I need to talk to the client and find out which is correct.

(I have actually tried to estimate the number of grass strokes made and came up with almost 6,000!)

Cattle farm landscape

Farm landscape

Farm landscape

This one is a little different than my normal home portrait. If fact, it’s pretty far away, seeing as the house and the barn are way back there and it is really more of a landscape.  The drawing measures ~18″x7″ which is also a change from my usual working sizes.

The inking will take a lot of time here – lots of grass and trees.  In talking it over with my client, I decided the pastels would be more suitable than the watercolors. The richness of the sprayed hard pastel will enhance the landscape, although I will probably use a little watercolor on the small fence areas and the barn, just because it will be easier to lay a color base and then just shade a bit with the pastels and maybe a little colored pencil.

Think pink!

Surprisingly pink entryway

Surprisingly pink entryway

I finally got back to work on this massive looking wooden entryway located in Germany.  I have always like the pink facade combined with the huge wooden doorway.  The last time I looked at it was before the Christmas rush, so now that I’ve caught back up, I thought I’d get back to it.  I didn’t really have much left to do, but I deepened the colors some as well as the shadows.

This exemplifies what I like most about Old World architecture – the use of vibrant, unexpected colors.

We have been having a little bit of wildlife excitement here the last couple of days.  This year’s crop of coyote puppies has made its appearance.  I think they are denning across the lake as the mother hangs out past the far end of the dam just outside of the woods.  The boldest 4 of the 6 puppies (!) have crossed the dam and come to hunt and play in our back yards.  I am surprised the parents let them roam so far away.  It might take them 10 seconds to get over here if there was trouble, but I guess they are not too worried about us after all this time.  I took some pictures, but even with my telephoto lens, they hung down too close to the lakeside for really clear pictures.  If some manage to turn out, I’ll post them.  The last time they appeared in 2013, we saw them every afternoon for about 5 days.  I hope we get to see them at least that often.  These are younger than the 2013 group we saw early that July.

Color, finally

Wooden doorway

Wooden doorway

Color, finally, on the doorway.  I have made a preliminary fixative spray as I was having trouble deciding how rich the dusty rose for the woodwork was going to turn out.  So far, so good, but I definitely think I need to darken and delineate the shadows more.  It’s too flat yet.

We’ve had an up and down fall so far.  First very warm and then quite cold.  The animals have been hiding too, perhaps because some of the hunting seasons have started.  We’ve been hearing gunshots in the woods lately so hiking the south trail may be a bad idea for a while.  I did see flocks of tom turkeys twice this week, so that was nice.  And coyotes have been howling some.  Too bad we didn’t see pups this year.  The flower beds have given up the ghost, although I had one wayward white iris that decided it was okay to rebloom in November.  That didn’t last very long, but it was pretty.

I started an instagram account under ruthsartwork a couple of weeks ago.  Slowly, with the help of my son, I am being dragged into the social media webs.  LOL  It’s been surprisingly fun so far, though.

Black and white

Entryway inkied

Entryway inkied

The inking of the entryway is more or less completed.  The massive oaken doorway is going to be fun to color.  I have decided to go with the pastels for this one.  The richness of the doorway and the painted trim seem to be calling for more depth of color than I seem to be able to achieve with watercolors.  The vines growing up the side of the building will add natural green effects to soften the stucco and all of that wood.  Maybe I’ll throw in some red and purple too.  Depends on how the dusty rose trim and timber work turn out, I guess.

The brickwork for front walkway has a mild pattern to it and helps ground the drawing.  It is really just a gray color, but I may change that.  Too boring maybe.  Sometimes these decisions are made as I go.

It’s really Michigan

All colored in (mostly)

All colored in (mostly)

I was checking out the mailing address for my commission and, lo and behold, it’s really going to Grand Rapids, Michigan, not Georgia. The zip code looked wrong to me for Georgia and sure enough, it was really in Michigan.  Slight mistake by the buyer, but all’s well that ends well.  I’m glad I checked.  The zip was right so it probably would have gotten there eventually, but no need to tempt fate, I say.

I worked on the color the last few days and am pretty satisfied.  The brick was hard to do.  The two sets of photos, taken years apart, showed very different brown color combinations and I had to ask which was closer to the real thing.  One set had definite peach undertones to it, complimenting the half moon inserts and the other showed a much darker combination of browns.  I went with the lighter combo.

I really like the flower boxes and the colorful front landscaping.  It really adds to the overall effect of the house.  The little gate also adds a point of interest.  I know the ivy on the right doesn’t shows light in this photo, but it looks fine on the real thing.

One more session for tweaking tomorrow and then its’s of to its destination – northern instead of southern.

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