Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Love of a Child, A Gift of Christmas

The Prize

‘Time it was and what a time it was it was, a time of innocence, a time of confidences…’

These simple lyrics by Simon & Garfunkel describe life as a time of innocence when Marc was just a small boy. His eyes do appear to be focused on the prize, and his confidences have guided him through all he has accomplished thus far in his life.

It seemed like only yesterday when this photo was taken at Patterson’s Fruit Farm in Chesterland, Ohio.  A ‘yesterday’ that has led us to today, where Marc is now a fourth year Pharmacy student at Duquesne University.  You will never meet prouder parents! 

These are the words of Marc's father.  He commissioned a painting of his son from a small photo he treasured as a gift. We wish him and his family a very Merry Christmas and a very Blessed and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adding a Touch of Christmas

When Norman decided to do a painting of our friends horse he thought to take it one step further.  He added a wreath to the fence to add a touch of Christmas.

Here you can see the original photo on the side.  The painting was also done without the wreath. But the beauty of a painting is being able to take creative license and add or subtract elements to the painting.

Being digital it makes it easy to have more than one version and to be able to customize one version to a particular occasion as in this case adding a wreath gives the painting a holiday feel.

In this case the painting can make a great personal holiday card as well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Autumn Journal

Photos taken by Norman Drake

The days are getting shorter. The the brilliant hues of Autumn's glory are fading fast as winter approaches. This year the colors were particularly brilliant. I was thankful that Norm was able to capture a few of some of Fall's most wondrous color palettes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Portraits can Make Great Christmas Gifts

I hate to think that Christmas is around the corner. It is already the end of October. So often I panic when I think of Christmas presents. A painting might be a great solution!

The little girl in the above painting is the sister of the Bride in the picture below in the previous blog entry. Below is a photograph taken at the wedding that her sister gave us for the inspiration of a painting.

Many of us have great photos of loved ones tucked away in photo albums that would make a great portrait painting, let alone a great gift, especially for those that are hard to buy for.

What is nice about a digital painting is that copies can be made for other members in the family. Check out our website to get some ideas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Here is Norm's Newest Painting

I asked Norman to start doing more bridal portraits since he has done only a few. I had seen some bridal photos of a friend of ours and asked her permission for Norm to work on doing a bridal series. This is the first one. Hopefully there will be a couple more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Piano Man

I had written about attending a surprise birthday party of my childhood friend, Freddy, where I presented him with a painting that Norm did from our childhood days in the August entry. While at the party Norman was taking pictures of the guests and also the musical entertainment for the evening. The photograph below inspired the painting above.

Here is an example of how your photographs can be simplified into a painting with pizzaz!

Just think how your photo of a friend or a loved one can make a great gift when transformed into a painting. Now that September is fading fast, Christmas is not that far off and there is always that one person that is hard to shop for. Could you have found a possible solution?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bouquet for the Bride

The above painting of a bridal bouquet was created for Karen Zawtocki as a gift to her sister who recently got married.

It all started at the beginning of summer when Norman and I did a show at the Bayarts in Bay Village, Ohio. This was our first show since we started It was here we met Karen who upon looking at Norm's work got the inspiration for a gift for not only her sister, but her step-mother as well.

Here are her words:
Having your baby sister get married is a once in a lifetime experience. Mine was made all the more festive by my daughter being the flower girl. After all the showers, I really wanted her wedding gift to be personal and more china settings. I saw Norman's work displayed at the fair, and I knew this would be perfect. zit was a pleasure conceptualizing the painting to capture the beauty of her bouquet. Now she will have it tastefully and artfully displayed for years to come. I loved it so much, I got one for my step-mother as well.

Thank you Karen! It was a pleasure to work on your idea! Thank you again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Painting Brings Back Memories

Norman painted this painting for me. The inspiration came from a photograph taken of me and my next door neighbor friend, Freddy, April of 1957.

We were five years old then. Both of our sixth birthdays would arrive during the summer. This summer Dr. Fred is having a surprise birthday party and we hope to surprise him this weekend.

When we get together, we go down memory lane a lot. Riding our bikes, ice skating, building tree forts, going to the "little store" and the movies on Saturday afternoons. I hope this painting brings back some more memories, Fred!

To my long time buddy and friend!
God Bless!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Painting General Grant

A dear friend of ours, Ken Bach, is a civil war re-enactor.

He has spent two years researching Grant's life in order to portray the part of the General at many festivals and historical Civil War re-enactments throughout Ohio.

He recently showed us a photo taken of him in character.
Unfortunately the photo brings his character to the 21st century.

So Norman took on the task of putting Grant back into his own century. Norm illustrated Ken's Grant with a look of a nineteenth century painting. Norm researched painting techniques and color palettes used during that time period and came up with the painting below.

Norm also took the liberty of redesigning the photo for a more historical flavor with that aged looked of being stored in someone's attic after being passed down from one generation to another.

It was fun to do as well as a different kind of challenge. Ken's Grant is now back in the nineteenth century where he belongs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Here is Norm's Newest Painting

Two missionaries, Elders Flinders and Harrman, came to visit Norm and I for dinner.  They saw some of the work Norman had been working on and later came to us to commission a painting of the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio.

Here is their story:

"As missionaries, we leave our home and families to serve full time 
in various areas around the world. For two years we do a lot of 
growing as we face trials and difficulties unforeseen to us. In each 
mission around the world, young men and women like us are under 
the direction of a mission president who directs, inspires, and 
instructs missionaries under him during their service. Like us he is
called to give of his time and talents, leave his home, and serve 
others. Unlike us, he is also a husband, a father, and grandfather,
with a life of responsibilities we do not yet have at 19 or 21.

Our mission president becomes a father figure while away from home. 
President Peterson is conducting three years of dedicated, loyal, and 
selfless service. He exemplifies all the qualities of love, patience, and 
resolve that every great leader must in order to better lift those he 

As Elder Flinders and I thought of a gift we could purchase in behalf of 
our mission for President Peterson, we knew it had to be unique. It 
had to be something that would last, and something that would 
remind him of the love, we as missionaries, felt for him. As we brains-
stormed we remembered the unique artwork we had seen by Norman 
Drake. It seemed to just click! A painting! Not just any painting, 
however. This particular building is a unique symbol to our mission 
and church as it is the first temple to be built by the church over 100 
years ago. President Peterson loved this place, and we knew such a 
symbol, depicted in such a way, would be a perfect gift from us to 
him; a leader we have come to admire and love."

The photo that was supplied was taken by President Petersen.

H A P P Y F A T H E R ' S D A Y !  

Check out the before and after on our website.

Monday, June 8, 2009

All Smiles

We have been on vacation down in Emerald Isle, NC along the Crystal Coast, where we got a chance to visit Norm's youngest son, Josh and his girl friend Danielle.  Josh is a Marine, recently back from Iraq.  He and Danielle get little time together due to distance and schedules, but we were all able to meet over Memorial Day weekend which was wonderful reunion indeed!

The above is a painting Norman did of his son when he graduated from boot camp some 2 years ago. Below is a painting of Danielle, his girl friend, that Norm painted from a digital photo Josh took. The painting is apply titled Secrets at the Beach.

We now have a new set of photos from our recent vacation that Norman will work on to add to the site that I will feature in upcoming blogs along with other works in progress.  

To be continued...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Antique Store Makes Great Painting

Antiquing We Shall Go

Last summer, Norm and I vacationed up at Lake George, NY.  While bumping around the local shops along the lake, we found this great antique store.  I asked Norm to snap a photo because I thought he could make a great painting out of it some day.  So here it is.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A New Painting Ushering in Summer Fun

Norman just finished a personal painting of the boats along the Rocky River which flows into Lake Erie. It makes me feel like summer.  I can feel the warmth of the sun, the chatter among the boaters, and the puttering sounds of the boats as they glide along the river. You can find it on our website.

For those not familiar with the Rocky River, it flows through the Cleveland Metro Parks on the west side. The bridge above is the Detroit Avenue Bridge linking the towns of Rocky River and Lakewood together. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remembering Mom on Mother's Day

My mother turned 90 this year.  It is hard to see her youth disappear through the years that I have known her.  When my dad died years ago, I found this really cool picture of my mother in her early twenties taken by a photographer in New York City where she worked after graduating form college.

When we started experimenting with photos, I added color to the photo and asked Norm to do a digital painting of her.  I wanted to remember in her youth as well.  Timeless.

H A P P Y   M O T H E R ' S   D A Y,  M O M !

I love you mom!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Say "Happy Mother's Day" with a Painting

For new mother's and grandmother's alike, portraits of babies and children make a great gift for Mother's Day.  Remember, because these paintings are digital, both grandmothers and mom can have the same painting if you so choose.

And don't forget that a floral painting won't wilt or fade away and be next weeks trash.  Capture mom's favorite florals in a painting.  Have any photos of her garden?  They can make a beautiful painting for mom to remember her garden by. 

Check out the possibilities at

H A P P Y   M O T H E R ' S   D A Y

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Portraits are Great for Birthdays

Tom had recently seen the work Norman had done with the digital paintings of his sons Josh and Matt and decided to commission his portrait for his up coming 94th birthday. 

"I am old enough, I think I'll do this for myself." he said.  So we obtained a photo taken of him while vacationing at Emerald Isle, NC and went to work.  "I had a good time there." said Tom,
"Lots of good memories."

The siding on the building was a light tan which made him looked washed out. I suggested to Norm to take some artistic license and make the siding blue to help feature his blue eyes.
We showed him the preliminary idea and he loved it.

It is now framed and hanging in his living room.  He said he is thinking of having a party to show off his new portrait.  

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y,   T O M !

This was a lot of fun to do.
Thanks again, Tom

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kicking off a New Website


Our website for Your Precious Portraits is now up and running.  It has been very exciting and a whole new learning curve.  Even blogging is new although I have visited many of them. On this blog I will tell you the stories behind the digital paintings created for our customers on our new website. These are your stories as well as mine. 

Norman has been working on many digital paintings for our new website.  He did one recently of my son Gavin's dog Chopper.  Gavin had recently bought his first new house.  He did not have much to move in let alone hang on the walls.  His Dog Chopper became a natural for his first painting to hang in his new abode.

Gavin gave me a 4x6 photo which became the inspiration for his new painting. The eyes from the photo were filled with the reflection of the flash, but Norman was able to capture the sweet look of a dog faithfully waiting for his master.

We printed it on canvas and Gavin gave his approval.  Now he is waiting for a frame. Something nice that will work in Gavin's new home.

Now that our site is up, I will continue to add more tidbits about the one's photos being transformed into paintings to treasure.  You can have your photo and painting through featured here on this blog as well as your story behind the photo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Welcome to our blog. Norm and I our both professional designers and we have talked about what our second journey in life would be, that is what is our passion. We came up with Norm is a graphic designer whose love is photography and I am a designer, and both of us have been in the corporate world designing for most of our careers.

As retirement is around the corner for both of us and the corporate world has become a more harsh environment to work in, the question of what would we like to do tugged on our brain cells. We didn't want to be couch potatoes on a fixed income. But what? We still wanted to work, but at our age be our own bosses. But what would two designers do who designed greeting cards for most of there lives? Certainly not greeting cards!

Norman who had a talent of doing portraits while at Cooper School of Art in Cleveland years ago, started to dabble in a software called Coral Painter. This software is a digital brush for painters and illustrators alike. You still have to have the skills of an illustrator but now the wonders of what digital software can offer can make illustrating even more fun without the fumes of turpentine and a mess to clean up.

When Norm took a digital photo of his youngest son, Josh, he decided it would be a good subject for a digital painting. Josh's painting became an inspiration that would lead us to the idea of

Here is the photo Norm took of Josh at the breakfast table when trying out his new digital camera.

I told Norman how I loved his picture and to make it into a painting. He used the picture as a template and painted Josh's portrait in Coral Painter. I call this "The Dreamer" because Josh was so lost in thought at that moment.

It was then we thought wouldn't it be fun to do this for other people so they could have their pictures transform into paintings!

Your pictures of family, friends, lovers, pets, favorite places, or some other image that you hold as precious and have them transformed into a digital paintings to hang on a wall at home or in the office. Better yet as a gift especially to those that are hard to buy for.

A mother's portrait that could be reproduced for all children, not one.

A portrait of one's bridal bouquet as a beautiful floral painting to hang on the wall long after the beautiful blossoms withered and faded away.

Bridal portraits, pet portraits, children's portraits, house portraits, portraits of special people and places, the list goes on. Custom painted portraits that carry much more warmth than a photograph and cost much less those painted on canvas.

That is our idea.

Custom to your needs and with your permission featured online for others to see.

For example Angela, one of the marketing people I worked with had taken a trip to Ireland with her husband. She had seen Norm's work and thought to have to have one of her pictures immortalized as a painting to hang in their living room. As we started and talked about the idea we realized she wanted the painting to fit into her color scheme so we asked her to provide us with swatches.

Here is Angela's photo that she gave us to work with.

The sky was overcast and blown out, so we improvised and added a new sky. This is what Angela's photo looks like transformed as a painting.

This one is called Angela's Ireland

Angel now had her photo transformed into a painting to hang in her living room, and better yet match her color scheme, and to keep her memories of her trip to Ireland as hers to treasure.

We hope to make many new friends and paintings for people to treasure and to post their stories and pictures on blog and website.


Val and Norman Drake