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This painting was done with great care for a husband who wanted to give his wife a very special birthday gift.  He mentioned that he could do jewelry or clothes or a trip but he wanted something that would express the warmth of family life that they had shared for many years.

And so I started “Clearing Skies” . His only direction was that he wanted it somehow focused on Washington, DC where they had lived and worked nearby for decades, and that somehow he wanted to include family members.

He also wanted it to be a surprise for her October birthday.  So not a word to her, or anyone in the family, all of whom I know personally.

I set out early one cool day last January to do some reconnaissance and see what location might work best, focusing on major Washington DC landmarks.  It also had to be a scene that could accommodate multiple figures.  Other than that, I was open to inspiration.

As luck would have it, it had been cold for weeks, but all of a sudden it was warmer and had a misty rain in the air creating dramatic fog effects everywhere. As I crossed the pedestrian paths near the mall, I was thrilled to see colors and light that was interesting and different from the normal “postcard” DC scenes.  Perfect. What I thought would just be a thinking photo session, showed real results.

My patron left it completely open to my creative direction, but asked if I would include him in the process.  He’d never worked with an artist before, and was keen to have a better understanding of how an artist works.  We set up an email link so we could communicate without being discovered.

I sent him sketches.  He sent me family images that I could work from when I got stuck with Facebook or personal archives.

He was very complimentary, and I could tell, very excited about the project.  He also said he had no idea when we started how much work went in to creating a large painting.  It was fun for both of us.

I, of course, wanted to make sure he was pleased, but also create something that I loved artistically. I also wanted it to have a long life of enjoyment, hopefully by future generations.

I wanted something that they would never get tired of walking in to the room and discovering it as new over and over again.

I completed it with a couple of months to spare so it could dry and be framed and ready to present.

I hope this family can cherish this memory of a particular time and place for generations to come.


Clearing Skies, 30 x 48″, oils