When I received an email from a woman in Switzerland, asking if I’d be interested in a commission to paint the site of her wedding (the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park) as a 10-year anniversary gift for her husband I said an enthusiastic, “Yes!” We agreed I would have the painting completed when she visited the Bay Area a couple of months later so that she could hand carry it back to Switzerland.
I visited the site, took photos and we agreed I would use the one above as reference for the painting. Since I shot the photo in late spring it wouldn’t really match the colors and light of her August wedding so I also used my imagination and memory of the park in summer to capture the warmth and strong light of August in the Bay Area. Below are some of the steps in the painting process.
Ms. S. had requested I include sunflowers that she remembered seeing in the garden so I added some large urns I’d seen on the web in photos of the Brazil Room patio and filled them with sunflowers (above). Unfortunately she wasn’t happy with the addition and wanted them removed. The sunflowers had been in a different area and there were no urns on the deck for their wedding.
Thanks to some luck, skill and “magic” (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser), I was able to remove them without leaving a mark (see above). She OK’d leaving the sunflowers in the garden on the left.
Then I began the meditative and fun work of painting each window pane separately. After I finished painting I realized it would have been smarter to mask the trim between the little window panes so that I could paint more freely, especially since I painted the windows several times to get the right values and colors. You can also see in the image above the beginnings of starting the stone work (also painted one stone at a time) and my first (unsuccessful) attempt to add patterns to the roofing material.
In the image above I had completed all the sections of the painting but hadn’t found the solution for the roof yet, and overall the colors were too cool. I removed as much paint as I could from the roof and repainted it several times before I finished the roof. I also added some layers of glazing over much of the painting to enhance the warmth of the colors in the stonework and wood trim.
Making the painting was a wonderful experience but the best part was when I delivered the painting to Ms. S. Even though I’d been sending her photo updates, she was moved to tears when she saw the painting in person. She said it was perfect and couldn’t have been more beautiful. We returned it to its protective envelope, rolled it up and placed it in a heavy shipping tube for her to carry it back to Switzerland where she will have it framed. She will present it to her husband next month. I hope he loves it too.
(Prints are available of this painting and I gladly accept painting commissions of local scenes or from your photos in watercolor or oil.)