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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