Thursday, November 25, 2010

A birthday present

So after a failed attempt at NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month), I was called upon by my dear hubby to throw together a birthday gift for his mother. He says a few words and I'm suddenly thrown into some rather intense chaos as I search for just the right thing. After the success of my last painting, I finally decided I'd give it another try. So all I needed was a great photo that I could get excited about putting on canvas...

This is a picture of my father-in-law and his mother at the airport after he'd been gone for three years serving as a mission president in Argentina. This wonderful woman passed away only a week later.

I was of course struck by the emotion the picture portrays and felt the inspiration that I need to paint. First, though, I needed to set up shop, including the photo and a sketch I whipped up, all taped on the cupboards in my studio (ahem, I've said it before, it's my laundry room . . . but things are what you make of them, right?)

Next came transferring the sketch to the canvas. (Secretly this is the hardest part for me. If the sketch doesn't come out right, the picture is doomed from the beginning.) Sketch complete, I finally get to put paint down, always starting with the background.

Next comes the skin. Skin is always hard because you have to mix just the right color and make the separate people different enough so they look like individuals. Once you get a good color though, it's the delightful shading after that.

After skin comes hair and facial details.

Then clothing:

Then stress . . . As you can see from the picture, the face of my FIL is just not quite right. Grandma came out just about right on the first try, but my dear FIL... So I called in the experts--two friends of mine who both have a spectacular eye. They helped talk me through some of the finer lines and very specific details. It's amazing how much the smallest lines and most minute shading can affect the recognizable features. Here is what finally came out. Duh-dum-dum! The reveal!

The close ups:

The full pic (including what you can see of my

Happy Birthday, Mom!


  1. Please excuse blogger for being retarded. I'd blame the user but why do that when you can yell at your computer screen without it yelling back.

  2. christauna it was the most thoughtful birthday gift and it means so much to me ! I loved this woman so much and of course her dear son. It will be a treasure for me forever. I am so thankful for you and your great talent and for Brett for thinking of it. I love it! and I love you MOM

  3. Can I count it as a birthday present from me, too since I took the fabulous picture?? :)

    Such a sweet, thoughtful gift you are truly talented Christauna!

  4. Christauna, this is beautiful. What a meaningful way to use your talent.

  5. Beautiful painting. It says so much.


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