I do not paint portraits very often, but this portrait commission came about so organically, I just went with the flow.
At Easter dinner on the family farm, my mother-in-law mentioned that she was looking for something for a particular wall in the newly painted eat-in kitchen.
She pointed to some decorative plates hanging on the wall, one in particular, and wondered if I could paint the girl in a hat, to go with her new theme.
As a professional artist, I did not want to be copying another artist’s image, so I said sure, we could just put a hat on Ellie (the only grand-daughter there at the time), and I can photograph her.
Two minutes later, I turned around to see her trying hats on my niece, Ellie Mae. I knew right away it had to be this hat. But it was all moving so fast.
My mother-in-law is a woman of action, she promptly placed Ellie on the edge of an armchair in the living room, and looked up at me.
There was light flooding in from the large window on the right, but also through a frosted window in the door on the left. It would be tricky to photograph. And my good camera was at home.
Still, timing is everything. So I borrowed my sister-in-law’s camera, and before long I had at least 3 strong contenders. It was difficult to tell, on the small screen, so I just crossed my fingers that they were clear enough to give me the detail I’d need to paint a portrait.
It just all came together so well, from the plates she had shown me, I knew my mother-in-law wanted an innocent young girl with a big hat and flowing hair. Ellie was the right age, with the right hair, and she was right there!
When I e-mailed my mother-in-law the image of the painting for her approval, she responded “Wow… really like it Donna. Love the eyes especially, and the look overall is eye catching and fresh … she looks like she could talk to me. Very happy with it!”
I delivered the painting last weekend, and it looked great against the red-orange wall. My mother-in-law was thrilled with the portrait, and I hope the rest of the family will be too.