Scott and Heather’s First Dance

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season and had a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate. I know I certainly did! Now that Christmas is behind us, I can (finally) start sharing the paintings that were Christmas gifts for various people.

My best friend Shelby’s brother got married recently, so as a Christmas gift for her new sister-in-law, Shelby asked me to do a painting to commemorate their wedding. I was more than thrilled to take this on, although I will admit that I was a little hesitant since I don’t usually paint people, unless they’re very abstract. I knew it was important that the bride and groom look recognizable, so I figured it would be a good challenge. Shelby e-mailed me at least 20-30 photographs from the wedding so that I had an idea of the venue and of course all the people involved. We decided on a scene from their first dance, with all the immediate family members in the background.

Some of the photos that I worked with
Some of the photos that I worked with

I started by painting a rough background of the venue, which was inside a tent.

Background
Background

Then I added some details to the tent, such as the banners and windows.

Details added to the background
Details added to the background

Next, I added a first sketch of Scott and Heather.

Added a rough sketch of Scott and Heather
Rough sketch of Scott and Heather

Then I gave them some skin. How considerate of me.

Added some skin to the couple
Scott and Heather with some skin

Then I started adding the families in the background. I started with a rough sketch of the Mussers.

Starting to paint the Mussers
Starting to paint the Mussers

Then starting adding Heather’s family.

Heather's family

I worked on these 9 people for awhile, slowly building them up. I also wanted to add some of the décor from the wedding, such as a really neat table made out of barrels, as well as show the centerpieces, and a normal table.

Both families are complete
Both families are complete

And finally, the finished product:

18x24" Acrylic on Canvas - Scott and Heather's first Dance
18×24″ Acrylic on Canvas – Scott and Heather’s first Dance
Zoomed in on Scott and Heather. Aren't they beauts?!
Zoomed in on Scott and Heather. Aren’t they beauts?!

Zoomed in on Heather's family

Zoomed in on Scott's family
Zoomed in on Scott’s family
Side-view - I extended the painting along the 1.5" deep edges so that it doesn't need a frame
Side-view – I extended the painting along the 1.5″ deep edges so that it doesn’t need a frame
Side-view of the other side
Side-view of the other side

And again, the finished painting.

18x24" Acrylic on Canvas - Scott and Heather's first Dance
18×24″ Acrylic on Canvas – Scott and Heather’s first Dance

Congratulations Scott and Heather! I hope you two have a wonderful life together. This was a joy to paint for you two, and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Lighthouse

I came across a great quote today.

“People teach what they need to learn”

I couldn’t agree more. Whenever someone says to me that they can’t paint, I always convince them that yes, yes they can because you can’t be “wrong”. Everyone has a different style and if you paint what you see or feel, whatever that may be, it can’t be wrong. We all see and feel things differently and that’s what makes art so unique. In fact, that’s the whole beauty behind it.

I say this to people because I truly believe it, yet when it comes to my own painting, I often struggle with this. I have a hard time trusting myself that what I envision is “right” and will look good. Especially in the early stages of a painting, when it doesn’t look like much, I often what to give up and not finish it because I fear that it won’t be good enough when it’s done, and I’ll be disappointed.

I tell my friends at school all the time not to stress over exams or school and just do their best. What’s the worst that can happen? So you fail an exam, or a class, so what? You’ll take it again, and life will go on. Nobody cares, only you. So stop being so hard on yourself. I think I repeated this little monologue at least a dozen times in the last week, since we just had final exams, yet at any given time, I have at least 3 or 4 paintings on the go. Why? Because I’m scared to “ruin” them. I begin a painting when I have an idea, then the next day, I’m scared to make a brush stroke in fear of ruining what I started. So instead, I start another painting. And I keep doing this until (usually due to lack of space) I eventually convince myself to just go for it and paint.

I need to learn to take my own advice.

Advice one: you can’t be “wrong” when you paint, so just do it!

Advice two: Don’t fear failure. What’s the worst that can happen? When it comes to painting, this is so trivial. I mean realistically, you just paint over it! No big deal at all.

Oh so you came here because you want to see a painting and not read about my inner thoughts? Fine, here’s one for you.

I was inspired to paint this piece in the midst of studying for exams. I find studying for exams to be a stressful, dark, and lonely time – easily my least favorite time of the school year. I worked on this piece periodically throughout the exam period and it really helped me relax and forget about the typical exam stress. I started with the background using acrylic paint and a palette knife.

Background
Background

Next I started painting a lighthouse. I think I was subconsciously inspired to paint a lighthouse since it symbolises light and hope during darkness. Pretty fitting during exam time!

Lighthouse 1

Over the next week or so, I would dab at it whenever I needed a break from anything school related. I slowly added some details.

Lighthouse2

And eventually was left with this.

The final product. 18x24" Acrylic on Canvas
The final product. 18×24″ Acrylic on Canvas

 

Side view - the painting is extended along the edges.
Side view – the painting is extended along the edges.

 

Zoomed in view
Zoomed in view

 

Another zoomed in section
Another zoomed in section

 

To give you a better idea of the size, here it is above a small desk.
To give you a better idea of the size, here it is above a small desk.

 

Do you feel like you try to teach other people what you yourself need to learn? If so, what do you try to teach? I’m really curious if this is just me, or if this is common.

By the way, that quote is from the book “The Happiness Project” which I highly recommend.

Like this painting? The original is for sale here.

 

London Ladies – Take 2

London Ladies? That sounds a little familiar now, doesn’t it?

You’re right, I have done this before. If you remember my post from Reading Week, I featured a painting that I called London Ladies. I didn’t talk much about it on the blog, but I painted that one for myself, of myself with my 3 best girl friends from London.

From left: Gill, me, Steph, Mouna
From left: Gill, me, Steph, Mouna

I grew up in London with these fabulous ladies (hence the appropriate title for the painting). I have known Gill and Mouna since the 4th grade, and met Steph in the 9th grade. Let me tell you a bit about the stars of this painting.

Gillian Heisz, CA, is the chartered accountant of the group. So we would expect her to be very organized, proper, and boring, right?. While she certainly is the first two, boring she is not! She is so funny without even trying (seriously, you are!), and also classy, confident, elegant and caring. Think Samantha Jones, but slightly less kinky…or at least, I assume… In the painting, she is wearing a simple blue dress, which in real life suits her perfectly. Simple, elegant, beautiful without trying too hard. That’s my Gill 🙂

Did I mention that she is gorgeous? Oh yeah, she is gorgeous, and single!
Did I mention that she is gorgeous? Boys, get in line!

Next in the painting, is me. I’m not going to dwell about myself here, but I’ll just mention the outfit choice. If you know me at all, you probably know that I tend to gravitate towards pink or purple clothes… That may be the understatement of the century. So appropriately, I’m wearing a purple dress in the painting.

I was shocked to find no pictures of me in purple...but pink is close enough and there are plenty of those!
I was shocked to find no pictures of me in purple…but pink is close enough and there are plenty of those!

The girl in the red dress would be my beautiful friend Stephanie Buono. We met on the first day of the 9th grade in our English class and I was immediately drawn to her laugh. If you’ve heard it, you know what I mean! It is ridiculous contagious and funny on it’s own. Not only funny, she is also super smart, caring, supportive, and appropriately studying to be a psychologist. She was my first ever roommate and we went through some rather interesting (think horrifying) experiences together in ‘Susie’ (what we named our apartment) which will probably haunt us both forever. I painted her in a cute red dress because she wears red often, and it looks great on her.

And she also has the best wardrobe ever! How cute is that dress?!
And she also has the best wardrobe ever! How cute is that dress?!

And last but certainly not least, we have the fabulous Mouna Hanna. The painting I’m going to feature in this post is actually painted for her, to put in her new apartment when she moves to Toronto. Mouna is the very successful lawyer of the bunch, and just got offered a new job in TO (congrats!). I could say so many great things about this girl, and have so many memories growing up with her that I actually don’t know where to start! I’ll summarize it by saying that she is just awesome 🙂 Seriously, the best! Funny, gorgeous, intelligent, loves wearing black, and has the most incredible shoe collection. Look closely in the painting, and you’ll notice the signature red soles that Mouna is lucky enough to own several pairs of.

You can't see the shoes, but they're probably Louboutin's
You can’t see the shoes, but they’re probably Louboutin’s

If you’re still reading, then you get a gold star, because this has been one long post, and I haven’t even made it to the painting I’m featuring yet! So here goes. This is London Ladies – Take 2, painted specially for Mouna.

As always, I started with a background, done with a palette knife on an 18×24″ gallery wrapped canvas.

background

If you’re wondering where I initially got the inspiration for the color scheme of this background, check out my shirt.

Colour Inspiration

Next, I added the abstract buildings of the background. If you look closely, you can see some chalk guidelines that I drew to the central focal point. I usually wipe off any that are left once I’m done.

Building up the background
Building up the background

Then came my favorite part: adding the stars of the show! I rearranged the order this time, because I wanted Mouna in the middle since the painting is for her.

From left, Steph, Gill, Mouna, and me
From left, Steph, Gill, Mouna, and me

And the finished painting:

London Ladies - Take 2
London Ladies – Take 2

This one is slightly bigger than the original one, and I put some more definition into the background buildings. Here is a side to side comparison.

Preference?
Preference?

To give you a better idea of the size, here is one with reference to my bed (which is either a queen or a double..)

I had to make my bed for this photoshoot...
I had to make my bed for this photoshoot…

Lastly, here is a side view. I used a 1.5″ deep canvas instead of the typical 0.75″ for more drama. I want this to be more of a statement piece than the original one. This also means it looks better unframed, since the painting is extended along the edges.

Side view

Well there she is! I hope you like it Mouna, and I can’t wait to see it in your new home.

Side note: Today is my fabulous mom’s birthday, so if you happen to be lucky enough to see her, please give her a giant hug and kiss from me. I won’t say how old she is, but let’s just say she is getting dangerously close to 50 (but doesn’t look a day over 20, right?!). Mom, Happy Birthday!!! You are the best and I love you beyond words. Can’t wait to see you in 15 days when I’m home!

Happy Birthday

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