Summer Portrait: Towheaded Trio

One of the most challenging and rewarding projects I completed this summer was a portrait of three siblings.

oil on canvas, 24x30"

oil on canvas, 24x30"

The painting was based on a photograph that was taken around 1990.  Don't you just love their outfits and baby blond hair?  What a fantastic source photo… the lighting was amazing!

This was my first foray into the world of 3/4 figure multi-child portraiture.  It's a huge genre, full of incredibly talented artists, so I was a little daunted to throw my name into the ring… I tried to stay true to my own style and remember every lesson from every class while channeling my portraiture icons.  Still, I learned a lot along the way, and this painting went through many revisions.  (You may have seen my Instagram posts with all kinds of red circles around what needed to change!)

I'm happy with the way everyone turned out, especially their sweet little faces!

I went all over the house, photographing the painting in different light.  I took it outside for a little while and sort of like how it looks in this photo - the painting background blends in with the foliage in the backyard!

Here's an image of the texture of the paint strokes from the side… can't fake that with a print.  Love it.

This client is framing the portrait now and eventually hanging it in their living room.  If I get to see the painting in situ, I'll be sure to update you and gush about its new home!

Prepping for the week ahead

I want to give you a little sneak peek of this week's upcoming painting project… I'm too excited to keep quiet about it!

I'm going to be working on an abstract piece for a client's gorgeous living room-in-progress.  This is my absolute favorite-favorite challenge.  Give me a space on a wall, some colors and fabrics, and let me go to town!  (Plus, I'm excited about the opportunity to build up my abstract portfolio.  You can see that my abstract portfolio is sparse compared to the oil painting portfolio, which doesn't actually correspond to the pieces that inspire me most!)

Back to the project… she's working with an interior decorator who compiled these bright fabrics:

And they're going with a light neutral on the walls...

And she's going all out with the painting, allowing it to be a big statement piece, repurposing this totally awesome gigantic gold frame:

Look at the photos of what they've already done!  

Don't you want to live here?  

I spent Sunday evening prepping my canvas and choosing colors to coordinate with her fabric samples.  I can't WAIT to make some art that's as pretty as this space!

Rebuilding with Paint

I know a woman who has a heart the size of Texas.  She’s the kind of person who not only remembers your birthday, but she remembers your spouse’s uncle’s birthday, and how you felt about their birthday gift last year, and offers to help you make lasagna for the family when they get sick.  This family friend goes out of her way to do things for other people all the time.

Like many of my clients, she approached me with a gift idea.  She wanted an oil painting of her father’s home, which had unfortunately burned down the previous year.  Her father had poured his heart and soul into the house and an addition, and they’d lived there for years, so the accident was really tragic for the familyWhat an incredibly sweet gesture to memorialize the former home for her father.

The tricky part was… we didn’t have a good photo.  I don’t mean it was blurry or just shadowy… but there were literally zero photos of the house in the daylight before it caught fire.  She gave me one photo from the newspaper of the home’s elaborate Christmas decorations, lit up at night.  That photo illuminated the size and lines of the house, but I couldn’t see any color or detail.  Then she gave me a few photos from the house after the fire, which they used for insurance, I think… so I could see what color the house had been, and the landscaping, but the shape of the house (as you might expect) was different than it had been pre-fire.


So I made a board of all the images and kind of made things up as I went, “rebuilding” the house on canvas, using paint!

You can see my setup below:

All the pictures were taken in the wintertime, so the trees were bare.  Because that tends to look sort of somber, she asked, “Can you change it to springtime?”


Because of the limited source info, this painting was a bit of a puzzle and definitely had its challenges, but it was fun to piece it together for this very kind and special friend and her father.

Summer Wrap-Up

Is it really the end of August already?

Hard to believe how quickly time has passed this summer.  At the risk of turning this post into a diary entry, I’ll tell you that the past three months have been chock full of change. 

Summer HQ in my parents' basement

Summer HQ in my parents' basement

I spent the summer living in Kentucky, at my parents’ house, while my husband lived in Ohio for an internship.  It was a blast to be reunited with my family and hometown, but definitely unusual to be a happily married 28-year-old living at home, visiting hubby on the weekends. 

celebrating a summer weekend with the hubs

celebrating a summer weekend with the hubs

In July, my sweet, hilarious, wonderful grandma got sick and passed away much sooner than any of us expected.  We were so lucky to get to visit her over the 4th, right before she took a turn for the worst.  Later that month, her passing and funeral were so graceful and brave and optimistic that they gave me a lot to think about, probably for my entire life. 

some favorite photos of Mimi from my wedding

some favorite photos of Mimi from my wedding

No time to think, though – right after the funeral we traveled across the country for a beautiful wedding weekend, followed by a series of showers, reunions, saying goodbye to our 15-year-old family dog, packing, moving, beach, wedding, moving again, school starting, wedding, and so on…

meeting Al the Camel at a very special summer wedding

meeting Al the Camel at a very special summer wedding

In the meantime, I had a number of art projects to wrap up in Louisville, which I absolutely adored and wanted to pour my heart into.  I can’t wait to tell you more about them!

my proud papa.  the best part of living at home was the support from a "fan club"!

my proud papa.  the best part of living at home was the support from a "fan club"!

All this to say… sorry for the lack of communication!  Business-wise, this has been a super busy summer for Alyson Johnson Creative, and I’m looking forward to more really beautiful projects this fall.   What I’m falling in love with, as an “artist-for-hire,” if you will, are the stories behind all the projects.  Every client has unique motivation for the piece they request and that inspires me anew with each canvas. 

going to miss sharing a studio with this goofball!

going to miss sharing a studio with this goofball!

Get ready for a deluge of posts to fill you in on summer work.   Fingers crossed that I can do a better job of keeping you updated in a timely manner as we move forward this year!  Thanks for hanging in there!