Working from Photos

As y'all know, the bulk of my work comes from painting my clients' photos.  Some of the photos are awesome, with great light, a clear composition, and it's easy for me to pick what I like to highlight and create a beautiful painting.  Sometimes, though, I spend as much time trying to piece together what the photo is supposed to represent as I do actually painting!

Before Christmas, I painted a series of small watercolors to commemorate a family's homes over the years.  My client only had one photo that she'd taken herself; the others had to be sourced from Google Maps.  Sometimes this works (see #2!) and sometimes... a LOT changes between the time you lived in the house and when Google took its photo (#3).  I was lucky to have a thoughtful client with such a good memory!

Let's start with Exhibit A:

This first photo has great light and shadows, with nothing obstructing the composition... it's awesome.  She just wanted the car removed.  Easy peasy.

Exhibit B: I used two Google Earth angles to piece together this former home, and my client's memory, and her absolutely amazing/adorable sketch to fill in the landscaping that had changed:

Et voila!  A cleaned-up version of her old house.

Finally, Exhibit C:

This one needed digital triage for me to be able to paint a watercolor from it.  There was no roof to be found, the horizontally striped awnings were gone, every surface had been repainted, the trees weren't the newly-planted baby trees of her memory... so we had to collaborate a lot to make sure I captured the right image.  

I've been working on a number of pieces lately that required a ton of digital TLC.  I am grateful every day for Photoshop, but my goodness, it has opened a Pandora's Box of time-stealing tasks.  I enjoy it, but I'm really not trained in that, so it takes me a long time.  And I don't want to create a bunch of paintings that look like cheesy Photoshop printouts - anyone who's seen my Pinterest board knows I gravitate toward loose, flowy, hyper-colorful stuff.  I think that having such precise photographs is making me a stickler about painting the photograph instead of just painting a painting.  Maybe I should start taking more source photos myself, or just say "no" to bad source photos.  What do you think?

Stick around - there might be some big changes coming for AJC in 2015. 

Paper for Parties! Introducing Printed Invitation Design

Last night we hosted a baby shower for four of our favorite friends.  They are two couples, both of whom found out they were expecting at nearly the same time.  It has been so fun to see them prepare for their new baby girls!

It's hard to find an invitation designed for two couples.  So guess what I did?

It all started with a watercolor painting:

We wanted to host an atypical baby shower: it took place at night, and men comprised half the group.  We figured the boys might be wary of a girly "baby shower," so the drink theme made it a little more man-friendly.  This painting led to all kinds of cute party items!

Love having custom envelope liners... and look how thick these cards are!  Was so impressed by the printer.

A number of guests live in my apartment building, so I just hand-delivered the invitations.   Their envelopes looked so naked without stamps... so I made little faux stamps to go in the corner:

I made personalized notepads for the guests of honor, in hopes that they would serve as mementos from the shower once the couples move away and become families of three!

And for the rest of the guests... little baby bottle party favors with "It's a Girl!" Hershey kisses inside.  Yum.

The shower was a blast... we had the guys chugging beer out of baby bottles and other fun stuff.  I got way too into decorating for it.  Thank goodness for my husband, who inflated 50-something balloons!

Here's my little attempt at an ombre arrangement of tulips:

Cheers to the wonderful parents-to-be!  Thank you for giving us two beautiful reasons to celebrate.

On behalf of AJC... cheers to an exciting new foray into paper goods!

Caribbean Daydreaming

Who else is freezing these days?

Wanna take a vacation?



Me, too.

This juicy blue oil painting finally dried, so I begrudgingly said goodbye and shipped it off.  (It sure looked pretty in my living room…)  

If you get a chance, look up Cayo Espanto in Belize…  wow.  I'll never get a chance to go there, but it sure was fun having this private island all to myself for a few months! :)


This January, I had the pleasure of traveling to Italy by proxy, thanks to a jet-setting client who shared one of her favorite pieces of Tuscany with me.

While visiting her Italian home, she fell in love with a painting and wanted me to re-create it for her husband.  

Sì, certo!

The original looks like it was painted on something smooth, so I decided to paint this on board.  We decided to make the painting 30x30".  I couldn't find pre-made wood panels that large, so I made my own.  Here's Phil at Home Depot helping me with Step 1:

I spent a few days prepping the board - cleaning, sanding, applying gesso, and so on… perhaps a little longer than I expected, but it was a fun process and so rewarding!  I loved the final working surface.  Sorry I didn't take pictures of the process.  Just imagine a piece of wood, painted white.

The completed painting:

What style would you call this?  Abstract? Cubist? 

Here are some details of the final painting:

(Love that swishy stuff.  I added a ton of medium to the acrylic to make it do that… fun.)

Here is the best part… the feedback!!  My heart nearly exploded with joy!!  Look how wonderful and warm it looks, propped in its new home:

This might just be outright bragging, but I can't ask for better reviews than these!

What fun it is, indeed!  Feedback like this makes every single minute of my job feel worthwhile.  Yay!

I hope to see an update when the painting gets framed and hung.  In the meantime, I have an "appuntamento" with some paintbrushes… arrivederci!