A Painting as a Christmas Gift - Bringing Summer Vacation to the Mantlepiece

I have come to thoroughly enjoy the challenges of working in different styles and painting on everything from walls to furniture to canvas.  Even more than this though, some of the most fun I have had painting is from working with client’s ideas.


Deb is a recent client who saw my mural panel at The Sweatshop gym in Medfield and then checked out my website.  When she saw my primitive trunk, she got the idea to have me do a primitive-style oil painting of a photo she took on her family’s vacation this past August.  This is going to be a Christmas present for her husband (since her husband is not yet aware of BlackBeak studios, it is safe to write this post without ruining the surprise!).  Deb and her husband love the shot, feeling that it captures the magic of their Nantucket vacation while also having a great patriotic feel to it. 


When Deb sent the photo (see below), I did a little research to get ideas of how I could work a little more realistic than my previous primitive painting to address the challenges of this image. This is when I discovered James Bard, who was a painter in the 1800’s.  James Bard is known for his paintings of boats, which are beautiful – and a perfect fit for what I wanted to accomplish with this painting!  To make sure I was on the right track, I had Deb look at James Bard’s works and her response was that it was “spot on!”


My first focus was the drawing itself.  Often times, my pre-painting drawings are loose sketches that really just map out the subject on the canvas.  For this painting, though – I knew I needed to be precise.  If anything in my drawing wasn’t exactly right, the painting would look off.


As soon as I had the drawing done, I was excited to jump into painting the water – as Bard’s treatment of water is a big part of what drew me to his work. I then worked on the sky, focusing on making the clouds more dramatic and picturesque than realistic (as with James Bard’s work).  With the need to be precise on the boats, I also needed the sky and water to dry before I could start creating all the details of the boats.


With a lot of referencing the photo for accuracy and some deep breaths while painting the many straight lines, I got the boats complete and let Deb know her painting was ready.  I always like to know what the final recipient thinks of their painting – and with Deb’s excitement to hang the final piece, she shared that I may not have to wait until Christmas to find out!