Family Portraits within a family portrait

Up until recently all my family tree paintings were painted in two styles.  The first one was a portrait of a couple seated at the base of their family tree with the rest of their family represented as names on leaves.  The second one was essentially a family portrait with everyone in the family painted as full body portraits. Then I had an idea!  What if I paint the ‘main couple’ as full body portraits and depict the rest of their family as portraits in frames hanging on the tree?  I pitched this idea to one of my clients.  She loved it and from that moment on I got myself a third family tree art style.

If you’re a creative individual you always feel the need to explore.  Do different things and do the same things differently.  That’s how you grow as an artist. Although, I’m sure the same applies to other professions.  Being out of your comfort zone does wonders when it comes to personal growth.  I’ve painted so many family trees up to this point that oftentimes I don’t even have to think about what I’m painting.  The colors, composition, etc. just appear in my mind almost as a preset filter in a program.  It’s nice when I have to think and not create artwork on autopilot.  I like mixing and matching.  Even something as simple as painting the leaves differently brings me excitement.  I like being challenged.

Technical and creative challenges in portrait art

My family portraits are different from your standard watercolor family portraits.  I don’t paint families from photos the way other artists do.  While I use people’s photos to paint from I come up with poses and props to use in my work.  I try to make my family portraits fun and dynamic.

Families aren’t depicted as stiff and awkwardly looking at the viewer.  They are having fun, enjoying their hobbies or are portrayed according to what they do in life.  For example, in the painting below I had to paint one of the family members holding a human brain, (she is a neurosurgeon!).  It was my first experience painting a brain.  The same applied to a tiger in the painting.  While I paint a lot of cats and dogs I’ve never painted a tiger before.  …or a yoga mat for that matter.  Not that yoga mats seem to be all that challenging to paint I still had to make sure that it looks like a yoga mat and not just a purple rug.

Practice makes perfect

It’s fascinating how with practice you get really good as an artist at painting certain things.  I remember a mere year ago I dreaded painting musical instruments.  Guitars in particular.  Nowadays I feel like a pro when someone’s requesting me to paint their family member playing the guitar.  “Acoustic? Electric?” I ask, “Gibson? Fender? Rickenbacker?” I even began to recognize the brands by looking at the guitar photos my clients send me.  Pretty crazy for someone who can’t play anything, right?  Crazy, but also so amazing!  We are so capable as people!  Paying attention to the smallest of details, trying to remember everything, being really present in your work makes you grow in ways you could’ve never anticipated.  It expands your mind.  Makes it hungry for more: more knowledge, more information, more details, more challenges.

No cutting corners when it comes to art

More often than not I work on a very tight schedule.  The majority of family tree paintings I get are commissioned as gifts for either birthdays or anniversaries.  I always make sure that the paintings are done in time.  Sometimes it means sleepless nights for me, other times it means sleeping a few hours a night for long stretches of time.  I’m not complaining.  I love what I do and I’m used to living on that schedule.

I’m not going to lie there are days when I tell myself that I can easily paint less details and could get the painting done sooner.  There was a moment while I was working on the painting below when I said to myself that there is absolutely no need to paint flowers on a blouse when I can make it all one color.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it!  So there I was painting flowers at 3 AM with my vision blurry after 10 hours of non-stop painting.  When I woke up the next morning and looked at the finished painting I was happy that I didn’t cut any corners.  The family tree painting looked vibrant, detailed, and as unique as the family it represented.

Watercolor family portrait painting in a style of family tree art

To order your own family tree art that represents your family members’s personalities please Contact the artist or go to the Shop section of this website.