Welcome to the Neighborhood!

May I introduce the holiday 2015 additions to AJC Estates?  :)

I was delighted to create more pieces for BWS Landscaping in Richmond, Virginia, and also add some new Cincinnati clients to the mix.

This year's pro tip: take photos as if you're a proud landscaper.  BWS takes the most fantastic source photos... probably because they always include the surrounding landscape!  

Wedding Bells in the Big Easy

This summer, I was commissioned to paint a custom save-the-date for a friend's wedding in New Orleans.

The ceremony would take place at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, and the reception would be at the Orleans Club.  These sites are just a few blocks apart on St. Charles Avenue.  

So gorgeous!  We wanted both stunning locations featured on the save-the-date.

In New Orleans, wedding parties will sometimes have a "Second Line Parade" after the ceremony, where a big brass jazz band, along with the bride and groom, lead a parade of guests down the street.  The first time I saw this, I was baffled by all the umbrellas and handkerchiefs and the whole shebang... so it left a lasting impression.

My client sought the perfect unique New Orleans motif that didn't include the famous streetcars of St. Charles Avenue.  The second line parade seemed like a natural fit!  What a celebration!

We tested out some type options and decided to mimic the famous tile lettering that decorates the streets of New Orleans

From pencil drawings to watercolor:

When the actual piece arrived in the mail, guests knew they were in for a big, beautiful party!


Congrats, Ali and Dean!  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

A little of this...

...a little of that.

I've been doing a lot of dabbling since we moved.  The great thing about my new studio setup is that I can work on lots of projects at once.  The bad thing about the new studio setup is... that I can work on lots of projects at once.  

I built this sweet double wall easel:

And to celebrate, I started... a watercolor.  Which doesn't use the wall easel at all.  Oh well!

This watercolor has been AWESOME... the client preferred an autumn setting, and the colors of the leaves REALLY make it pop!

11x17" original watercolor

11x17" original watercolor

While I was working on it, I experimented with several ways to capture the process.

I fiddled with Flipagram:

And then took some progress videos... one was excruciatingly slow, but I used iMovie to condense it from 5 minutes to 41s:

The iMovie quality is better, but this clip of painting is a little more interesting... I think?  I made it using LapseIt, which takes timelapse pictures and turns them into a video... unfortunately, it degrades the quality a little bit.  Or maybe it's just out of focus.  For your viewing pleasure:

Obviously, I'm not a technical expert.  

What do y'all think?  Which one do you like?  Or do you prefer the good-ol-composite photo, like this?

Please do let me know - I'll try to keep things as interesting as possible!

For more in-progress works, follow my Instagram @alysonjohnsoncreative

Ta-ta for now!

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.