Art Painting

Sunset with Papa – Custom painting for Ana’s birthday!

Hi again!


I recently shared a sneak peek into my latest project, which also happened to be my first commission. I had the pleasure of working with Sabrina on this custom piece and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Sabrina initially contacted me about a series of portraits for her kids in the style like this baby portrait I did a while back:

Baby, realism

As we were discussing the project, she mentioned that her daughter Ana’s 8th birthday is coming up and would like to do a special painting for her. Ana and her papa LOVE the sunset when the sky is all sorts of different colors. She says that:

“…God has taken His hand and made a beautiful painting for them to enjoy. So just about everyday we will look at that painting as a family.”

As I learned more about the sweet and lovely Ana, I felt like I had met this wonderful little girl. I wanted to make this painting even more special. I didn’t want to just paint a scene, I wanted to paint the feeling and love that Sabrina was describing. I wanted to create a representation of the beautiful bond between Ana and her father.

With the help of some reference photos and many descriptive emails, I was able to visualize the scene in my head. I couldn’t wait to get started, but as mentioned in my previous post, the Army life and a new job pushed the timeline of this project back. Needless to say, I jumped right on this after my last day at work. I started with drafting a few scenes with varying composition based on what elements Sabrina and I had agreed on. I narrowed them down to the two scenes below and confirmed with Sabrina which she preferred.

sabrina sunset sketches-sml

She chose the scene with Ana and her papa sitting together while enjoying the sunset, as this was closest to how they truly watch the sunset. I went to sketch this on canvas-paper before laying down the tones and basic color blocks.

Sabrina sunset beginning

At this point, I usually find myself borderline “crazy anxious”… like I always do when transitioning from sketch to paint. This is because the painting is at an awkward phase and I can’t help but panic that it’s not looking how I visualized. With a slight nudge from my husband, I snapped out of it, and added more layers until my vision finally became more real. This is what the painting looked like half way through:

Sunset with Papa - unfinished

At this point, I gave Sabrina a status update and she was pleased with the direction I was going. The only request was to add pink on some clouds if possible. I was already going to do that, so I was happy we were on the same page. I couldn’t wait to add trees and other details to finish.

Over the course of this week, watching paint dry was actually exciting. Naturally, I continued to paint like a mad woman, and was able to finish on Saturday evening. I couldn’t wait to share my progress with Sabrina, so I sent it to her late at night. Luckily, she was still awake, responded immediately, and gave approval of the finished painting. Her approval put my heart at ease, allowing me to sleep peacefully without the constant worry if she would approve or not. Below is the finished product. I am super excited to send off the signed and sealed painting, and have Sabrina and her husband see the finished piece in person!

Most importantly, Ana’s birthday is in September, and I absolutely cannot wait to hear how Ana reacts! Rest assured that I will include a follow up post on this 🙂

Sunset with Papa - finished, taped

I hope you enjoyed seeing the progress of this project. Please let me know what you think as you know I love any feedback I can get!

Do you have a special time of day or memory that you would like to see painted? Don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to discuss it with you and see what we can develop together.

Until next time,
<3 Kara

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  • Reply
    Importance of color in any creative project | Makara Sernett
    March 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

    […] Blast from the past: Sunset with Papa […]

  • Reply
    June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

    This is incredible! You are so talented! Love it 🙂 I am trying to come up with something I want you to paint for me!!!

    • Reply
      June 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks Courtney! I really appreciate you taking the time to read the post and also write something 🙂 If you have something in mind, definitely shoot me an e-mail, or call me and we can talk about it! I would love to paint something for you.

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