Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas Present

Creating a painting for a Christmas present is the most fun. There is that feeling of Santa, the elves and the workshop at the North Pole.

We got a call and met with a gentleman named Jeff Nicholson. He had an idea for a painting. He wanted to have a painting of all the houses he and his wife and family lived in.

This was to be a gift to his wife, Laura.

It was to be a house portrait of six houses. 

It was at the end of November and the challenge was to create a seamless portrait of the Nicholson homes. We brainstormed with Jeff and came up with the idea of "Nicholson Road" with their most recent house to be more prominent.

Needless to say, it was like doing six house portraits as one and all in time for Christmas!

We ended up finishing the painting late Christmas Eve just in the "St. Nick" of time.

Here is a close up of part of the painting to see more detail.

Because of the unusual layout, the painting ended up to be four feet long and sixteen inches high.
To see more of the painting, click on the following link:

Jeff emailed us Christmas day that Laura loves the painting.
We aim to please!

Thanks Jeff for the exciting challenge!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Maria: from Black and White to Color

Maria's children and grandchildren asked her for a good picture of her. Maria soon discovered that she didn't have many good pictures. She had passport pictures, but not much else. 

She did discover a 2"x 3" black and white photo taken of her many years ago. 

She was 18. 

It wasn't much, but she asked Norman if he could come up with something.

Knowing her coloring, that is eye, hair, and skin coloring, is key to creating a painting from a black and white photo. She also gave us an old passport photo for color reference.

We liked the old black and white which captured not only her youth, but had a sense of beauty and romance not found in the passport picture.

Maria comes to life!

So much richer than the tiny black and white wallet sized photo warn with time.

Now she has a beautiful portrait; an heirloom to pass on to her family.
The beauty of it being digital is she can obtain more than one copy and request size changes.

See Maria in our gallery:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finding Inspiration for a Portrait

Sometimes when one selects a photo for Norm to do a portrait all the ingredients aren't there. After all a photo does not capture the magic let alone catches us at our best. 

My friend wanted a portrait of her daughter with her cat.

Well she had the photo of her daughter with the cat. But after looking at the photo, she decided that the portrait would look better if her daughter was not wearing glasses or a bandana.

So she gave Norm a second photo of her daughter to show him what she looked like without her glasses and bandana that she wore in the first photo.

This helped Norman to know the person better when illustrating them for a portrait.

Mission accomplished!

 Norman added her mom's favorite color of green to the background using the plaid shirt as the inspiration for the overall color look. The color of the T shirt was changed to show of the cats upper body that gets lost in the first photo. It also works well with the colors in her plaid shirt, and suggestions of that color are added to the background to pull the color palette of the painting together.

Here is another example of what can be accomplished by the use of more than one photo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Pat Torok

Deb Dougherty had seen us at the Lakewood Arts Festival. After seeing some of Norms portraits, Deb started to come up with an idea for her Mom's 80th birthday. Deb and her siblings wanted to do something very special.

Deb and her sister Mary came over to brainstorm a couple of ideas for a painting for her mom. Combing through their family pictures the sisters realized that it would be great to have a portrait of their mom and dad together.

 This was the photo they liked.

They liked the expression of their dad. It captured his sense of humor and his coffee mug that was usually in his hand. But Deb and Mary soon realized that their mother's eyes were closed. Deb reported that she usually complained when the camera captured her that way. At first we worked to paint the eyes opened but it seemed unnatural. Something else was not working.

So we asked for more pictures.  Deb brought us several more. So we out of the second group of pictures we picked this one.

Deb assured me this photo was a good capture of how her mom looked.
Well she even had the same earrings.

 Using the two above photos for reference, Norman came up with the following painting for Pat's birthday.

Here is a portrait of Art and Pat 

 with love from Deb, Mary, Michael, Chris, Joe and Katie

We thank Deb and her family for this wonderful opportunity of doing their parents portrait.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

For the Love of Painting

When Norman isn't working on a clients portrait, he works on his own stuff. 

The blossoms on our magnolia tree were so beautiful this past spring I asked Norman to photograph the tree. The blossoms seem to last only but a week and then the leaves take over. So it was a nice surprise to find that Norman decided to paint them later. Now I can have a bit of my favorite part of spring all year long.

Here Norman did a painting of salt and pepper shakers that stood out of the clutter on our kitchen table. I was amazed how such everyday items could make a fun painting. The shakers look quite formidable here and seem to have a personality all of there own.

This is his most recent work. After Norman did a house portrait for a client he work on this one that was inspired by one of the many lake cottages in the quaint resort town of Lakeside, Ohio.

Since many of these interim paintings are not the direct result of work that he does for Your Precious Portraits, he now has another website: where you can find prints of his work for sale.

The nice thing about this site is that you not only can purchase a print, but you can choose size, paper, format, mat color, and what kind of framing. You also can purchase greeting cards of his work as well.

If your in the mood to shop check us out at:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Portrait Celebrates 50th Wedding Anniversary

T H E   G R O U D L E   H O U S E

 Home of Sandy and Glen Groudle

To celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Sandy and Glenn Groudle, David and Tim Groudle and their wives Heather and Sue, got together to commission a home portrait for their parents. The family knew that Sandy always wanted a painting of the family home. A home of many happy memories. 

So here is their gift to their loving parents and in-laws. To Sandy and Glen Groudle:


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Beauty of the Cleveland Metroparks

One of the things that impressed me upon moving to Cleveland many years ago was the richness and beauty of the Cleveland Metroparks. I forgot about this painting Norman did, until we adding some prints to sell for the Art Festivals we are participating in over this summer.

This is of the Rocky River near the Lorain Bridge. It always amazing me that such a serene place exists below the clutter of homes, highways, traffic and strip malls of Cleveland and its suburbs.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In Memory of Jean Lowry

I had received a call from Ernie Lowry. He wife had recently passed away and he wanted a portrait to be done in her memory.

He had a three by five photograph, that was taken of them many years ago, that he had treasured.

Although he had many photographs of her, this particular photo meant much more to him. 

Before he knew about Your Precious Portraits, he paid to have the section of the photograph of his wife enlarged as you see here and framed. But with older photos you can only enlarge so much before you loose detail.

The photo was cropped, retouched, enlarged to 8" X 10", matted and framed.  He paid $400 for the work done to create the 8" X 10" photo. Needless to say he was very disappointed. 

So from an image no larger than half the size of three by five photo, Norm went to work. 

For the same investment, Mr Lowry got a painting! 

For us we got to meet with a wonderful man who loves his wife and misses her dearly. We got to hear his story about the love his wife and the wonderful woman she was.

Thank you Ernie, for telling your story and giving us the opportunity to do this painting.

For a closer look of the painting click here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photo Diary of the Festival

This past week was a hot one! 

I took off a week from work to work all the harder to help Norman get ready for the Festival of the Arts at St. John's Medical Center. This was Friday morning the first day of the show. 

Our tents had to be up and ready by 9:30.


We started Thursday afternoon and thought we would stroke out in the heat and be found in the goose poop by the pond.

Our tent is now complete and it is looking like rain. Here is the first peek inside.

Norm hinged 3 doors together and painted them with 3 shades of light green. The doors added more display space in our tent. 

I also displayed some prints of his photography in my grandmother's old wicker suitcase.

More matted prints of Norm's work are displayed in the opposite corner.  As the day progressed and the skies cleared I moved them out by the front.  

The plastic white lattice that we used for the sides of the tent worked well for hanging more paintings. 

It gave the tent a gazebo feeling.

So here is our tent and we are finally ready and waiting for our first customer.

This can't be our first customer?!?

The geese kept us company and searched for droppings of kettle corn from the passers by. 

But, thank God, our first customers started to arrive. 

My turn to guard the fort. 

I kept to the shade when the sun came out.  Unfortunately our tent was in the sun unlike the lucky ones that had shelter under the trees. 

Sun block was a must!

I think this was our youngest customer.  What a cutie!

 This is a shot of the many tents under the trees that lined the walking path on the St. John's Medical Campus.

At Sunday's close the artisans packed up and left the trails for our geese companions.

All in all, the festival turned out well. The sun came out and it cooled down enough that many people came out to visit.

We met many wonderful people.
I hope to be telling their stories through Norm's future illustrations. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Creating our Banner for the Festival of the Arts

It suddenly dawned on me while in this frenzy of getting work printed, matted and framed for our show this weekend, that we had no identity for our little white tent in the sea of many white tents that wind around the walking trails on the St John's medical campus.

I had spotted a banner hanger a the local Pat Catan's and felt I could adapt it to my purpose. The next step would be designing the banner. Since we can print on canvas that solved my first problem.

Designing it to fit our logo and be seen was another. The hanger is not particularly wide so as you can see I designed one for a vertical look.

The banner measures 14" X 36"

I designed it so it can be viewed from both sides.

I pray this will do the trick. Meanwhile Norm is getting our work ready for the show. Our studio is only half completed. Folding doors for the tent to hang paintings on tower in my living room accompanied by a large folding table where I am matting prints.

Somehow this does not feel like vacation. All the same I am excited.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Memories

There is a saying that summer is half over after the 4th. I always sigh when I hear that. I have so many fond memories of summer. Norman painted the above picture from a photo he snapped while we were up in Lakeside, Ohio capturing the quaintness of a long lazy small town summer. I asked him to do a painting of it so I can hold on to summer even in the cold Cleveland winters.

The old wicker chair reminds me of my grandmother, another warm memory in of itself. I can almost hear the sounds of summer from this painting: kids playing, birds chirping, lawnmowers with their distant hum. Oh how I love summer. Thanks Norman for capturing a bit of it for me.

To see Norman's original photo click here: original photo and take a tour through Norm's photo gallery.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Norman Drake's Newest Painting

I discovered Lakeside, Ohio two years ago when I went on a retreat for the Artists Way through and artist friend Wendy Fedan. I had a wonderful time! Although it is a woman's retreat Wendy allowed Norman to join and photograph the group. From some of his photos Norm did this painting of where some of our classes where held along Lake Erie. For me it is so nice to have a painting of a treasured time at Lakeside.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Ready for the Festival of the Arts

Last week we started to make a list of what we needed to accomplish for setting up our booth for the up coming Festival of the Arts held by St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Ohio.  This is our first year to display our work there and I can say we are very excited.

We have our tent from last year, but the lattice siding bowed with the heat. Norm is reinforcing the siding  with metal conduit pipe. It seems to be working nicely.  The other thing we have been working on is adding extra display walls for inside our 10' x 10' tent.  We have painted and hinged three 30" doors to add extra hanging space.

Hopefully soon I will be able to add some pictures.

The other item of news is our purchase of a new Epson printer that prints on canvas up to 44" wide. We have to redesign our office space to make room for the new printer. This will enable us to print larger paintings for our clients and keep down the price by eliminating the need to send them out for printing. The printer has 10 colors which will be great for color reproduction.

Again when done I hopefully will be able to post pictures.

Another up and coming art festival we will be participating in is the Lakewood Art Festival in August.

Please mark your calendars for some summer fun and I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Holiday Photo Becomes Portrait

Sometimes inspiration is found in looking at our photos from the past. 

Norman was rummaging through some of our photos from one of the many Christmas parties we had and found this picture of Jeanne. He thought it had potential for a painting.

And here it is...

What is nice about digital portraits is that you can play around with the layout.  I suggested a tighter crop for an alternative.

You never know what might make an interesting painting. In this case the pose was an interesting one. Norm used this one to try out some new brushes he designed. He wanted a soft look. 

Please add your comments and give us feedback on which layout you like. Your comments are welcome.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What Could be Better than Fixing a Photo?

So often we have have a really great photo of a loved one as in the case of Holly Lauch. She brought us a photo of her daughter Emily that had gotten ruined in a frame. Moisture had glued the image to the glass and the glass in the frame had broken. Holly thought all was lost. 

It was certainly a challenge. But here it is as a digital painting... warmer and more vibrant.  Plus Norm could even do more.

Holly was redecorating her bedroom where this portrait would be hung so we asked for some paint swatches. This helped Norm to add some greens in her bedroom walls to be added to the painting in the background as well as reflected color in her dress.  We could have the painting work with Holly's color scheme.

That is the nice thing about painting and illustrating on a digital screen.  It is not only Echo friendly, no oil paint or turpentine to dispose of, it is easier to color match and add color to a painting to coordinate to a particular color scheme.

Thanks for the challenge Holly! Wait for the story on her other daughter's portrait.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Youth Remembered

Bill, a friend of Norman's, dropped by for a visit while passing through. In catching up Bill discovered Norm's portraits. We told him about our relatively new business of Your Precious Portraits and he pulled out a treasured picture of his wife Bobbie that he carried with him and asked if Norm could do a portrait.
Well here is:

It was so touching to hear him talk of his wife of many years.  His picture was one of the few he had of her when she was young.  Isn't funny that even as we age, inside we don't picture ourselves as getting older. We think of ourselves in the prime of our youth. Maybe that is our spirit. Hers is beautiful.

I can certainly see that Bill still lovers her very much.  She is a treasure.

To see the original picture check out our gallery

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Open House at True Custom Framing by Design

It was not too long ago Norm and I were eating at the Stone House Grill when I noticed a frame shop that had opened up 2 doors down.  Of course I had to investigate.  We walked in and met owner Jesse Guardado and his wife and like us he had just started his business not too long ago.

It was a start of a friendship.  We came up with the idea of promoting his framing and our artwork in his store.  Just recently last week Jessie held an open house promoting a 50% discount on on framing an gave us space to feature Norman's art screen.

Here is Jessie below with one of Norm's pieces: Girl with Red Umbrella, in the background showing possible framing of a portrait.

Here I am discussing the benefits of digital painting being echo friendly and the economics of digital painting.

Below is one of Norms paintings that Jessie recently framed. It is painting of our dear friend Jan Dragala's horse. Jan is a designer and artist as well. She worked with us at American Greetings for many years. She now passes on her talents and insights to the students she teaches.

Here Jessie and potential customers look at one of Norm's paintings of a little girl we entitled Precious.
She is the granddaughter of another dear friend Dan Forst who also worked for many years at American Greetings. She graces one of business cards and indeed is precious.


Again there I am below. I have to say it was fun meeting so many people who are interested in the arts.

Again there is Jessie below discussing the limitless possibilities of framing with those that came to the open house. He works with his clients and will customize to his clients needs. He also does a lot of out of the box thinking when it comes to framing the unusual. 

The Art of True Custom Framing by Design is located on 24960 Center Ridge Rd in Westlake, Ohio.

Come check out his shop and prices and support the small business man.  He loves to please his clients.