Three houses for three sisters

Personalized portraits of a family home

This project was a series of three individualized watercolour portraits of a family home for three sisters. Their father had this house built 62 years ago in north Toronto, before he met their mother. Over the years, it became a loving homestead for frequent family gatherings and it was filled with laughter and memories. It came time to sell the home, and the family wanted something to capture the years of memories and laughter contained in this home.

They sent me a number of pictures of the family and various details of the home itself. It was wonderful to see so many smiles, so many moments caught on camera. There was no doubt from the photos that there was a lot of love in this home.

It was a collaborative process to develop each painting: deciding on a more realistic style, the colour palette, how and where to add the personalized aspects, etc. Each painting was crafted with love. I hope they bring back many memories for each sister and provide a small touchstone of this era of their lives as they move forward.

RUTH – The family had a camper trailer and would go on trips during the summer months. Ruth fell in love with the West Coast on one of those trips and now lives in Vancouver, BC. Her portrait, naturally, featured the trailer parked in the driveway in between trips.

Family home portrait – Ruth. Pen, watercolour and gouache on paper.

ANN –  As one who organized the many family garage sales at the house, Ann’s portrait featured a sale in progress. I had fun adding in some of the real items from the photos they sent – the pile of hats, the skis, boxes of picture frames, a cane, and a toy that someone was actually playing with in one of the photos… as well as a few made up items (and my own tin watering can).

Family home portrait – Ann. Pen, watercolour and gouache on paper.

MARY –  Mary loved the birds and gardens. This feeder hung from the eaves for many years, and the gardens featured peonies, tulips, irises, and roses along with a wealth of flowering trees and shrubs. This was a fun painting – we just made everything bloom at once, regardless of the season!

Family home portrait – Mary. Pen, watercolour and gouache on paper.

They were kind enough to send me descriptions of each painting being unwrapped: Ann’s laughter and joy at all the objects in her garage sale, and the emotional importance of the piece for Ruth. I so appreciated this glimpse into the paintings’ arrivals at their new homes. Mary had this to say about receiving her painted story:

“The postal carrier brought me a package today! With great excitement, I tore it open. I am overjoyed. The tears rolled down my face. Your work is very beautiful. It is so stylized with such great attention to meaningful detail. The colours are so perfect. The colour of the house bricks is spot on! I will cherish this piece. I feel so touched that you created this painting.” – Mary

Perhaps there is an event in your life such as the death of a loved one, or the sale of a family home. Or, perhaps you are simply feeling ready to look back on a meaningful period in your life. It takes time to heal after a loss, but at some point, you may feel you want to reintroduce this past place into your life, to carry it with you and find comfort in it. I can help bring a past space to life for you, in a custom painting.

Learn more about commissioning a custom painting of your story