Mamaw & Papaw's House

I delayed posting about my latest painting, since it was commissioned as a special gift and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. It was painted for a young woman named Alison, from her dad Mitch. This is the country farmhouse which was Alison's maternal grandparents' home when she was a child, so she has many wonderful memories of time spend there with her cousins.

The grandparents are deceased, and now the home is under different ownership. I had visited the property a couple of years ago when it was for sale, and wandered around the farmyard, with its rustic outbuildings and weathered barn. Old oak boards on the inside walls of one of the small sheds had various names written in chalk, with the year they were written, like "Alison 1995." Although quiet and deserted, the homestead had revealed some of its past life to me.


My challenge was to paint this home with contemporary photos as my reference, altering it to look more as it did a few decades ago. Mitch visited the current owners and took numerous photos, following my suggestion to photograph it either early morning or late afternoon, whichever lit the front of the house best.

From Mitch's reference photos, taken in the late afternoon sun on a late November day, we chose a slightly angled view of the front of the house, with one of the big maple trees framing the scene on the right. Mitch wanted me to depict the home in an autumn landscape, and reviewed some of the "changes" in the house details to make it look more as it did when Alison was young - no porch railings, different roofing, move the swing chair, etc.

I decided to emphasize the warmth of the autumn afternoon light, and cast a golden glow on the white clapboards. This was greatly accented by the bright foliage colors too. For the clapboard siding, I used a mechanical pencil with a hard fine lead (so it wouldn't smudge) and drew them with a ruler. As in many of my acrylic paintings, I used glazing of transparent paint over these pencil lines, giving a blue cast to the shadows and yellow near the strongest highlights.

As a final touch, Mitch had a custom frame made from rustic boards saved when the barn was dismantled. I hope it will be an image Alison will long treasure, along with the happy memories of her days there.