Painting of Girl with Flowers

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Spring is almost here!  I am so excited for the seasons to change! While I love having four seasons, it’s nice to see the blue sky, the birds returning… and all that spring brings.  And, I’m anticipating the flowers.  Can’t wait for those!  With that in mind, I wanted to share this painted portrait I created of a little girl.  It was so fun to put this piece together.  You’ll see what I mean once you look at the original snapshot my client gave me.

First, here’s the finished painting for you to enjoy!

painted portrait of girl holding tulip in front of tulips

And now, let me show you a before and after.  Notice how much more space there is in the image, how her darling curls are now fully within the image…  I decided to add tulips to the background because of her adorable pink dress.  And naturally, in a field of tulips, what little girl wouldn’t want to pick one for herself or a friend?

I particularly love those eyes!  Adding life and sparkle to eyes is one of my favorite parts about doing these paintings.  Truth be told, that’s where I spend much of my time — making sure the facial expressions are just right.  The backgrounds tend to fade away into impressionistic brush strokes, because that’s not the focus of the portrait.  I want your gaze to be locked on hers.  Everything else in the image is secondary.

before and after of painted portrait, client snapshot and betsy's painted artwork

These before and afters are almost my favorite part!… because you get to see where we started!

The only thing better is getting to reveal the final painting to my client.  It’s hard to put into words, honestly.  The original snapshot was already valuable to my client, because it captured a moment, it brings up sweet memories.

But when I create a painted portrait from the snapshot, there is a sort of transcendence — the value of that moment becomes more apparent to others too.  It becomes ethereal, dreamy.  The image becomes a conversation piece, a jumping off point for reminiscing.  That’s why I love creating these paintings!

If you’d like to see more painted portraits, or are interested in commissioning me to turn one of your lovely snapshots into a painted portrait, please contact me (734-424-0472) so we can chat.

Painted Portrait – a Father Daughter moment…

One of the nice things about creating a painting is that I can meld several photographs into one piece — and it looks totally natural.  This painting was based on several photographs that we took during Yara’s newborn portrait session (see the blog post with some of our favorite newborn photos of Yara!).  It took me several versions of the painting to get things exactly the way I was envisioning, but that’s why I do this.  Because when all the pieces finally fall into place, it looks amazing.  Here’s the final painted portrait of Yara with her dad.

father daughter portrait, baby girl with her dad, newborn portrait photographer dexter mi photography baby photographer ann arbor mi, painted digital portrait, digital art.
I absolutely love how this painted portrait turned out! Adding in Yara’s dad made all the difference in the world. For me, the painting while cute beforehand, becomes something more. The beginning of a wonderful father-daughter relationship is captured here in the final version of the painting…. love it!
baby girl wearing unicorn bow, painted portrait, digital painting, portrait artist, infant portrait photographer, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor baby photographer
I love the pastel tones in this painted portrait of Yara. This is the first version of the painting that I worked on before showing it to mom and dad. We felt it was lacking something…. so I added in dad. Isn’t it amazing what a difference it makes?

If you’d like to learn more about commissioning a painting from an existing photograph, or from a portrait we create during your next portrait session with me, get in touch! I’d love to talk with you about how the process works and help create a family heirloom that matches your lifestyle and vision. Contact the studio via our web form or call 734-424-0472 today!

Motorcycle Racing Painting

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It’s interesting to see how motion is captured — whether in a photograph, or through other media.  I had fun creating this painting of a racing motorcycle (based on a photograph by Steve Sewell).  Brush strokes, whether “in real life” or digital, convey motion, impart a sense of speed.  This “quick draw” painting was completed in about an hour, give or take.  I had fun playing around with different brush strokes, but really wanted an abstract feel for the background on this one.  The brush strokes lend a sense of motion, though they are a bit rough.

motorcycle racing painting, based on a photograph by Steve Sewell
Motorcycle racing painting, based on a photograph by Steve Sewell

The thing about art is — you can spend hours on it.  Tweaking brush strokes, overworking details, deciding you both love and hate the painting at the same time.  Art is personal, involved. It’s not just an image, it’s about the emotion.

I could come back to this same motorcycle photograph tomorrow and end up with a completely different painting.  It’s all about the feel you’re going for in an image, how rough you want it to be, how refined.

Art is fluid, everchanging.

Art is personal.

As an aside, if you want to commission a painting from one of your own snapshots, please contact me.  I’d love to find out what styles of art interest you, the look you’re going for, and what excites you about your image.

Horse + Rider Painting (from Photograph)

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As I mentioned in an earlier post (Finding Time For Yourself), this year I’ve been trying to incorporate art into my daily routine.  For the most part, this has been in my sketchbook, with pen and paper.  But today, I took some time to experiment with digital painting.  This painting is based on a photograph taken by Bhakti Iyata (source:  I had a lot of fun painting digitally.  It always takes time to find a groove when working with new media, and digital is no exception.  But my goal was to capture the essence of the image, the feeling, and keep things kind of spontaneous.  Oh, and experiment with the painting process and “media” available digitally (i.e. all the fancy schmancy brushes).

digital painting of a woman riding her horse, cowgirl at a rodeo.
Painting of a woman riding her horse, based on a photograph by Bhakti Iyata (Source:

I’m liking the results, especially considering the amount of time I spent on it (maybe an hour or so of experimentation).  I’m not completely in love with the airbrush streaks on the woman’s hair and the horse’s mane, but that’s okay.  Art is a process.  The more time you spend practicing, the more you can refine your skills.

As an aside, if you have a photograph that you’d like turned into a painted art piece, please get in touch (contact Betsy).  I’d love to help talk with you about how I could create a custom art piece from one of your treasured snapshots.

Now, back to the daily art thing.  I have been pretty consistent!  Yes, I’ve taken a few days off, but other days I’ve had time to finish more than one sketch.  It’s interesting how creative inspiration strikes.

My takeaway so far from this endeavor?

  • it’s good to let your goals have fluidity.  I don’t want to be stuck doing something daily “just because” or out of obligation.  The whole purpose of this was to spend some time every day doing something for myself.
  • Don’t feel pressured.  Yes, I wanted to say “I’ve completed a drawing every day” — but realistically, I know this isn’t feasible.  Some days I’ve just done quick sketches.  Other days I’ve had time to spend an hour or two drawing.  Just do what you can, when you can.
  • It’s good to take a break.  Time off gives balance, refreshes, energizes you.  Our work week has a weekend (even though many of us don’t stop working), the creation story has a day of rest, exercise schedules incorporate “off days.”  It’s no good to be in a state of constant activity.  Rest, reflection… they’re good for the soul.
  • Include others.  Some of the days I’ve had most fun drawing were when I did collaborative sketches with my son, Toby.  It was fun to work on something together, to chat as we drew, and to have more than one creative opinion expressed in the final piece.  A note to Type A individuals — if you let a child collaboratively draw with you, set aside any expectations or need for things to go a certain way. It just won’t happen.

Am I going to continue?

Yes, probably.  Though I am not officially committing to a drawing (or painting) every day, I’d like to continue engaging the creative portion of my brain daily.  It’s really interesting how much that overflows to the rest of my daily routine.

In a nutshell… find time to do what you love on a regular basis, even if you have to make major changes to your definition of that activity.  Five minutes drawing.  Reading one chapter of a book.  Taking a five minute walk.  Playing games as a family once a month.

Whatever it is that energizes and inspires you, make it something you can realistically do.