Merna and Senan at a French Cafe

A few months ago, Merna contacted me to request a commissioned painting to gift to her fiancé for his 30th birthday.  Her request was an interesting one. She wanted three separate paintings, each one of her fiancé and her at a different spot where they will be honeymooning. The tricky part was that the honeymoon hadn’t happened yet, so I didn’t have any exact photos to go by… and also that the three paintings were completely different locations but needed to have some kind of flow so they could be displayed together. I decided I was up for the challenge though! One of the locations she requested was at a French cafe.

merna

After a very extensive Google image search, and looking through random peoples engagement photos for ideas, I decided to use this profile picture of them (from their engagement photos) and somehow crop them into a patio at a French cafe.

I started with a deep red background on an 18x24" canvas
I started with a deep red background on an 18×24″ canvas
Then did a rough outline of Merna and Senan and a couple of background items with white chalk
Then did a rough outline of Merna and Senan and a couple of background items with white chalk
Next I started to roughly add some color into the background
Next I started to roughly add some color into the background
Then gave the lovely couple some skin and clothes. So attractive eh?
Then gave the lovely couple some skin and clothes. So attractive eh?

It’s usually around this point that I get discouraged with my paintings. I know in my mind what I want it to look like and I know that it will eventually get there, but looking at a painting like this simply makes me cringe. Luckily, this was a commissioned painting with a due-date for the client, so I forced myself to putter along. There was probably a good week between the above photo and the one below though, as I really needed the deadline pressure to motivate me to keep going.

Okay, so they're starting to look a little better now.
Okay, so they’re starting to look a little better now.
I added the coffee mug to set the scene a little better. And spruced up Senan's suit.
I added the coffee mug to set the scene a little better. And spruced up Senan’s suit.
Next I worked on the background a little bit.
Next I worked on the background a little bit. Insert milk, flowers, and a patio railing.
Then gave Merna some eyes and hair, as well as continued with the background.
Then gave Merna some eyes and hair, which she notified me was now longer than in the picture I was going by. So I “grew” her hair. I also continued dabbling with the background.
Merna notified me that her hair is now a lot longer than it was in the picture I was going by, so I "grew" her hair.
I gave Senan a face, finally. And Merna also told me that Senan has shaved his head since the engagement photo I was going by, so that meant I didn’t have to worry about painting more hair. Bonus.

 

Now we’ve reached the point where I truly have a smile on my face while painting. It’s finally starting to look like what I had imaged all along and I simply continue painting adding in details. It’s at this point when I’ll actually send photos to friends/family asking them for input about what to change/fix.

 

I played up some details and added some high and low lights, but nothing too major.
I played up some details and added some high and low lights, but nothing too major.
And finally, got to the finished painting! Notice Merna's rings? The wedding is next week but this is a painting of their future honeymoon :)
And finally, got to the finished painting! Notice Merna’s rings? The wedding is next week but this is a painting of their future honeymoon 🙂
The painting is on a 1.5" thick canvas and is extended along the edges.
The painting is on a 1.5″ thick canvas and is extended along the edges.
And here it is displayed in my room (where it is obviously not hanging...)
And here it is displayed in my room (where it is obviously not hanging…)
A close up view of Senan
A close up view of Senan, the birthday boy!
And his gorgeous bride-to-be Merna
And his gorgeous bride-to-be Merna

Well that was sufficiently long so I will save the other two paintings for another post on another day.

I’d also like to wish Senan the happiest 30th birthday! I hope you enjoy this painting even half as much as I enjoyed painting it.

This painting is obviously not for sale but if you’re interested in commissioning a painting of your own, check out this page with more information about ideas and my rates.

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22 thoughts on “Merna and Senan at a French Cafe

  • August 26, 2013 at 10:47 am
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    I like the planning stages you’ve shown.

    I’m just planning how to paint a new army of my little soldiers, and am going through loads of old books looking at photos.

    Planning really helps whatever item or picture you’re painting.

    Reply
    • August 26, 2013 at 10:51 am
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      Yes, planning is key. I however rarely plan my paintings too far in advance. Obviously a commissioned one requires it since I need to meet the clients needs, but when left to my own devices, I usually just have a general idea of what the finished painting will look like.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck with the army of soldiers 🙂

      Reply
  • August 26, 2013 at 11:19 am
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    Wow, this is awesome. You did really good with the challenge of painting an idea without an actual photo of where they were going to be!

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    • August 26, 2013 at 11:23 am
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      Thanks Dave! I definitely had my doubts along the way but am very happy with how it turned out in the end 🙂

      Reply
  • August 26, 2013 at 11:21 am
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    Excellent!! So cool how you put them in a totally different location. Great details too. Such talent!

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    • August 26, 2013 at 11:24 am
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      Thank you John, much appreciated 🙂

      Reply
  • August 26, 2013 at 11:30 am
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    Amazing Agata! And I always enjoy your details:)

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    • August 26, 2013 at 11:46 am
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      Thank you Lynn. I really enjoy adding those final touches at the end. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop…

      Reply
  • August 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm
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    Fantastic painting! I particularly like the way you handled her hair. So effective!

    And I completely understand the deadline issue. I really need something to push me, as I clearly lack discipline of any kind. 🙂

    Reply
    • August 31, 2013 at 6:49 am
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      Yes, deadlines and pressure are a must for productivity!

      Reply
  • August 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm
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    Wonderful and awesome!!!!!

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    • August 31, 2013 at 6:58 am
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      Thanks Tim, glad you’re enjoying it. I find it fun to look back at those photos, since the beginning stages rarely look much like the final painting.

      Reply
  • August 31, 2013 at 8:12 am
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    Wow!!!! Agata, this is just magnificent! I was asked to do a portrait of my sister and brother in law as “American Gothic”. Your work makes me think it’s possible–just a great job on this!!

    Reply
    • August 31, 2013 at 10:58 am
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      Thanks 🙂 I’m sure you’ll do a great job too!

      Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 4:05 am
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    This is MAGNIFICENT. Just magnificent. I LOVED seeing it done bit by bit.

    Enormous kudos to you.

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    • September 18, 2013 at 8:27 am
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      Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂

      Reply
    • September 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm
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      Thank you Paulette. I’m glad you enjoyed it

      Reply

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