This blog is hosted by Hanne Lore Koehler, artist, author, illustrator. I will try to post a new article every day, including new work, painting tips, art news. Hope you will join me and leave a comment!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I composed this painting of a family enjoying a summer vacation on the dock of their cottage in Muskoka using several photographs of different sizes: the cottage, the dock, the Muskoka chairs and individual photos for each family member. It was quite the challenge to get the sizes of each item in the right proportion, perspective and lighting to unify the different elements of this painting and make the scene look natural

It would have been much easier to paint this scene using a single photgraph with a single light source and proportionate elements as reference; however, this was just not available. The family did not take many photgraphs and, at the time that I was entrusted to paint this family heirloom, sadly, one of the parents was deceased and the boy had grown up. By scanning at least eight different photos of various sizes into the computer, I was able to arrange and rearrange and resize each element until I was satisfied with the composition. I could then use this "image combo" as a basic reference with proportionate sizes of each element for my detailed pencil drawing on canvas. When it came time to do the actual painting, I had to choose a single light source so that all the shadows would be consistent in order to create a unified natural looking scene.

To add to the degree of difficulty of the project was that the medium chosen was watercolor which meant that once the paint was on the watercolor canvas, it was there to stay. In addition, white paint should never be used in a watercolor painting. The white that you see is the white of the canvas so that, if you want to keep certain areas white or very light, this has to be planned and mapped out in advance.

Although this was a difficult and challenging project, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I love it when a painting comes together.

Inquire about a custom painted family portrait for your family heirloom. Email me a photo and I'll send you a quote.