Painting a childhood home – Vineyard Farmhouse artwork

Vineyard Farmhouse, watercolour painting

Vineyard Farmhouse

This is a painting of a house. Yup, call me Einstein for pointing that out. But there’s a bit more to it than that. This was the house that I first lived in, and holds many memories that I’ll never forget (all being well).

The original photo – where I tried to look as inconspicuous as possible when photographing it

A few months ago I was chatting to my Dad about living there, and he spoke about when he had M.E. so severe it left him bed-ridden for many years. This normally would have been problematic for me as a young child growing up, but as we lived in Christian community there were people around who helped out. One of these was a chap called Mike, and as my Dad continued his story it became clear that Mike helped out a lot in those difficult years, despite him being busy with work and church commitments. I can remember times of playing football with him (he was rubbish), and once broke his thumb with a thunderbolt from 30 yards (or more likely a 3 yard miss-hit).

So to say thank you for putting up with the little brat that was me, and to acknowledge he has had a big part to play in my life I decided to paint for him the house where we lived, Vineyard Farmhouse.

Hmm

Starting the painting, and getting stuck on shadows

The location of Vineyard meant that the sun would never shine where I wanted it to, resulting in a flat looking picture as shadows convey depth. So I used a bit of artistic license and changed where the sun was shining. This was fine till I started painting telegraph poles and simply couldn’t work out how the shadows would run on the roofs of houses, or how the porch shadow would fall on the stone.
Helpfully I live in a Christian community house with some very talented people, and one of these was a 3D modelling guru called Aidan. I asked him if he could re-create the photo in a 3D environment so we could play around with the sun position to see what looked best.
3D model from photo angle
An hour later using a combination of the original photo, Google maps, Streetview, and Sketchup, he had created a model where I could test a few sun angles and choose which one looked best.

The 3D model in Sketchup with detail from Google Maps, Streetview and the original photo.

The 3D model in Sketchup with detail from Google Maps, Streetview and the original photo.

The chosen sun angle with shadow from the porch, window bays, and the left side of the building in shade.

The chosen sun angle with shadow from the telegraph poles, porch, window bays, and the left side of the building in shade.

Once the shadows were worked out I cracked on with it. There was a few things I learnt – painting grass is a mission, and I still hate windows (no offence to Bill Gates). The whole thing was done in about 6 weeks, which is fairly rapid by my usual standards.

On location and nearing completion

The artists den (all my stuff dumped on a dining table)

Around this time my Dad was getting married so for a gift I scanned the final painting in, had it edited to look like a railway carriage print (something he’s obsessed about), and then framed it as they were many years ago.

The carriage print version of Vineyard that I gave to my Dad

The carriage print version of Vineyard Farmhouse

The actual painting was then superbly framed (thanks to Joz at Good Timber) and mounted (thanks to the Framing Centre) and given to Mike.

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