Behind the painting - Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy - 12x16 commission peice

Positano, Italy - 12x16 commission peice


 I have been working on a commission piece for the past two weeks. It was a very fun, challenging but rewarding experience. I thought it would be fun to share my process here with you. 

 The client asked me to paint her honeymoon location in Positano, Italy. The photo she sent me is similar to this:


 I have to admit I panicked. I thought to myself "How will I paint such a complicated background?" If I simplify it too much, we might lose the feeling of the place. But I will go insane if I try to paint all the details! As I mentioned before, I am not a photorealistic painter. Therefore I have to find a way to compose this image into something that is loose, atmospheric, but still captures the essence of the place. Since it is a commission piece, I have to know what the client wants. 
So I asked her two questions:

  • What did you like about the place the most?
  • Can you share with me your fondest memory there?

 The client graciously replied me:

Our favorite thing about Positano was walking around the town and enjoying the food, flowers, and culture there. Every day was a celebration for us, and that spirit of joy was encapsulated by the color and life of Positano. There was bougainvillea crawling up the brightly colored houses and stores, and lemon groves, with the most flavorful and enormous lemons I’ve ever seen. It was just gorgeous. 

 Our favorite memory was our daily ritual of having a cocktail and watching the sunset on the balcony of our hotel overlooking the marina. I’ll follow up with a couple more photos of the scenery for you.
paint-over concept

paint-over concept

She wrote it so well, I can literally feel it!  While I am not able to fit everything she mentioned in the painting. I did pick out some keywords from her: culture, joy, color, life, flavorful and sunset. I took the photo and did a conceptual paint-over with Photoshop. This is what I end up with:

 I change it into a sunset, I paint out a lot of needless detail and preserve the colors. I put the couple in the foreground as they are the focus. And I move the church to a bit more left so it fits into the scene better. When I sent her the concept, she replied: "I have chills writing this. This concept is absolutely PERFECT and beautiful!!!! You have captured exactly what I wanted!!! " 
 I then start the real painting. I use the concept as my reference and paint out the painting I had in my mind.  With the couples walking as the first read. The church on the back as the second read. And the background buildings, mountains, and boat as the third read. I was able to capture the colorful background buildings without going overboard with details. Using visual language to convey a simple and direct message.

 The client loves the painting and it's now on it's way to her. I'm really happy to be able to serve her, knowing that she will be able to revisit her wonderful memory through the painting. As an artist, nothing is more satisfying and rewarding than knowing my art able to bring people's memory back to them and allow them to experience it again. I wish this lovely couple well and their marriage will remain as beautiful as Positano's Sunset, and just like their honeymoon... "Everyday is a celebration!"