River Painting in Oil on Canvas - a custom commission

This custom painting was requested by a new collector as a gift for her boyfriend. The two enjoy summer days by the river while he fishes (detail to the left) and she relaxes on the shore.

To skip to the finished piece click here. Otherwise, read on as I design and paint this scene.

To begin with, I need to lay out a composition. I have already decided that the painting would be great in oils, but first I do a watercolor study. This gives me something to show the client for approval and also helps me work out what I want to do.

Mary, the client, sends me a few photos of her and her boyfriend and of the river. She graciously answers my many questions such as what they wear, what color are the chairs they sit on, etc, etc. Once I am satisfied that I have enough information, I paint a quick watercolor study on inexpensive watercolor paper:

I used Paint Shop Pro to digitally move the main elements around after doing the painting. The fisherman was originally over to the left more and the chairs were more to the right. I was not entirely satisfied with that layout. Working digitally makes it easy to adjust the composition without having to paint it again.

My collector is very happy with this composition. This place is special to the two of them and she says it brought tears to her eyes. It's a go!

Now, I can begin the oil. I start by sketching the composition onto the canvas, then paint the fisherman:

Next I paint the two chairs and Mary who is reading with her feet in the water. It looks a bit rough and messy right now, but it will get better!

I then paint the sky and far trees keeping the color cool since they are in the distance. Next is the water which is moving swiftly:

The chairs are on a small pebbly clearing. I paint this a dark color since it is in the shade. Pebble details will be added later.

The nearer trees are painted a warmer green to visually bring them closer:

Once the trees are painted, I add pebbles to the beach using a paler color:

Lastly, I adjust the details on the figures and any other values that need more work. I send an image to the client. She is very happy with everything so the painting is finished!

Fishing and relaxing by the river
'Our River' original oil painting on canvas
You can click this image to see it larger.

I'm happy to take custom orders. Contact me for a custom painting of your pet, home, garden, grandkids, favorite vacation spot or whatever your heart desires.
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