Turning a Snapshot into a Watercolor, Part 2

Creating paintings of children requires an understanding of them, their personalities, and what makes them unique. In my last blog post, I talked about how I start the process from getting a great reference photo like this one you see here to creating a sketch. You can read that post here.

The reference photo for Big Sister and Little Sister commissioned paintings.

The reference photo for Big Sister and Little Sister commissioned paintings.

At some point in the process, I ask the parent(s) to tell me about their child so I can paint them with that knowledge. Once I get information from the parent(s), I pray to receive guidance on how to convey their personality correctly. Here’s what these girls’ father said about the big sister:

E is a great big sister, very protective of R. She loves books read to hear and ‘reads’ books to herself well after I’ve put her down for the night. She’s very creative and takes on multiple superhero personalities within each day. She’s a leader, but not in the bossy sense, she takes initiative in playing with others...and she has a really hearty/infectious laugh.

In the case of these two commissions, the dad wanted to have his two daughters painted from one photo that he and his wife captured while they were on a family vacation in Southern California. He sent me several texts telling me about his daughters’ personalities.

Before I put paint to the sketches I created, I create color swatches from which to work and to see how the colors will look together. Then, I start to paint. In this case, I had both sketches fastened to each side of a piece of cardboard, so I could work on them simultaneously. I worked on the sandy beach and background first, then added in the skin tones and shadows. I varied on this one based on how quickly they were drying and how much time I had to work on them.

LittleSister_step1.jpg
BigSister_step1.jpg

After talking with my collector, we decided to change the color of the older daughter’s bathing suit. He sent me a few more reference photos and I made the switch. I also modified the baby’s swimsuit to simplify it.

Big Sister reference photo for bathing suit color

Big Sister reference photo for bathing suit color

BigSister_inprocess.jpg
LittleSister_inprocess.jpg

I added several more details from the background and deepened the shadows to show how sunny it was on that beach day. The final paintings feel peaceful and happy to me. The dad loved them, too. Now, they are getting framed and will be presented as a birthday gift to the mother and wife of my collector.

Of the final paintings, he said, “Beautiful!!!” I’m excited to hear what his wife thinks when she receives them on her birthday.


Big Sister © Pam Baumeister, 2019

Big Sister © Pam Baumeister, 2019

Little Sister © Pam Baumeister, 2019

Little Sister © Pam Baumeister, 2019

Let me know what you think! If you’re looking to have your own paintings created, reach out and talk to me about what kind of painting would make your heart sing.