Girl and Husky painting

Girl and Husky commissioned painting

When it comes to portraits, I take on only a select few commissions each year, for customers who enjoy the fact that I paint a “likeness” of a person with maybe some slightly exaggerated features, enhanced colors, and my own made-up background patterns. And when it comes to animal portraits, I only paint dogs. I do find them irresistible with their unique personalities and trusting eyes. With that said, a couple of “Girl and Dog” assignments came my way recently, I happily took them on, and here are results of the first one.

My latest portraits are all created on cradled wooden panels (not canvas) because I feel that they allow for better detail capture, especially when, in the end, I enhance my painting with pen. Here are Girl and Husky – done from a photograph, with acrylic and pen.

Beginning stages:

Girl and Husky painting by Anastasia Mak

Girl and Husky painting by Anastasia Mak

(I left the painting like this, with “Zombie Eyes”, for sometime to complete a few other projects. Eventually my studio assistant begged me to fill them in because they were frightening her.)

Girl and Husky painting by Anastasia Mak

Wheew – eye are present. Now, to get to those little details.

Girl and Husky painting by Anastasia Mak

And – final result below! Now I just want to meet and hang out with that happy husky.

Girl and Husky painting

57th Street Art Fair 2016 poster by Anastasia Mak

57th Street Art Fair 2016 featured artist

I was thrilled to be invited by the 57th Street Art Fair to create a commission for their 2016 poster and banners.

This Fair is a nice show in Chicago’s south side neighborhood of Hyde Park, located not too far from University of Chicago campus. The commissioned project involved creating a painting, completing a poster / lightpole banner design, as well as making all of festival’s other supporting materials (postcards, bookmarks, lanyards, etc) – print ready.

After brainstorming the painting subject matter with the festival committee, we settled on Botany Pond – a serene little water spot in the Main Quadrangle of UIC campus, full of lilies and surrounded by plants and flowers, with a walking bridge over it. The building I placed behind Botany Pond in the painting is actually located a little further away in real life (on the other side of UIC’s Main Quad). But I chose it for this piece because I found it so interesting. Its gothic style has many little details that are fun to paint, and the right portion of it reminds me of a castle.

Here is the initial proposal sketch:

57th Street Art Fair poster sketch

….And completed painting along with my final poster / banner design:

57th Street Art Fair 2016 poster by Anastasia Mak

….and one of many street lamp banners advertising the festival!

57th Street Art Fair 2016 banner

What a fun project! I look forward to being there during the show days on June 4th and 5th! Stop by my booth (just south of the info tent) to say hello.

Thailand painting by Anastasia Mak

Thailand commissioned painting – “Sawadee Ka”

Here is a recently completed commissioned Thailand painting, based on two separate photos provided by customer. One photo featured beach, water, and those beautiful vertical cliffs. Another – orange wooden boats, frequently seen in Thai waters. I have been to Thailand, but so far – only to Bangkok, and not the “postcard Thailand” – beaches, small villages, etc. That visit was a quickie stop after spending 3 weeks traversing through Cambodia and Vietnam, and of course, I thirst to return to Thailand and see the rest. Needless to say, the subject matter of this commission got me very excited. It was a pleasure to create this piece with acrylics on a 22×28 canvas. Now the painting has traveled to Texas, and happily lives there above a fireplace, bringing back memories of what I am sure was a magical trip.

The title of this piece is Sawadee Ka – a Thai greeting.

Below are a few painting progress photos, and the final result.

Thailand painting sketch

Thailand painting progress

Thailand painting progress

Thailand painting by Anastasia Mak

Thailand painting on display

Ketubah painting commission

This one was completed in the end of last year. I am not Jewish, so when I was approached with a request to create a ketubah painting, I admit, at first I wasn’t sure exactly what it could be. An exotic fruit? Or maybe a funny-looking hat? Turns out, it is a traditional Jewish marriage contract! The artwork that goes with Ketubah can be anything that has meaning to the couple, and I was asked to create a modern version of one. So, I painted a scene with the lake and lighthouse (located here on Chicago’s north side), and the contract text was added in using a new to me technique – a gel medium transfer. Gel medium transfer consists of printing the text (backwards) on a laser printer, and “gluing” that printed paper to the artwork by using an acrylic matte medium. After everything dries (I left it to dry overnight), paper is carefully rubbed off with a wet sponge. What remains is the black ink, adhered to gel, which is adhered to your art panel. I had to practice this several times before attempting on the actual painting. Result was a success! Printed text transferred quite well with a little bit of that worn, “aged” look – just what the couple requested. Here are several stages of the painting along with a final result:

Ketubah painting process


In the end, I changed the border from orange to blue, to make it a little calmer. (Names have been blurred out for customer privacy)

Modern ketubah painting

When ceremony time approached, the bride and groom signed their names on lines I drew below the text. Very fun, unique project and I got to experiment with something new! (…Oh, and then I added my little artist signature to the other side of the painting, but was assured by the couple that I would not be entering into their contract my signing my own artwork. Because that would be a little awkward …..)

Ketubah painting by Anastasia Mak

“Snowboard Girl” commissioned painting

Lately, I’ve been creating a series of Girl figurative works, and here is my latest one – Snowboard Girl. For the last few years, I have missed painting semi-whimsical figures and faces, and they give my eyes a welcome break from rigid architecture. Actually, I always try to work on more than one painting at a time – and my ideal situation is to be switching between a figurative (or floral) piece and a city-themed piece. It doesn’t always work out that way due to deadlines and schedules, but that is a perfect combo to help my painting brain stay “balanced”.

My figurative works the were noticed by customers, and now I get commission requests for custom figurative pieces. While I DO NOT paint portraits per se (traditional portraiture has never been my forte as I have very little training in that area), I am happy to paint someone’s likeness (their whimsical character, if you will) – if I find that the assignment fits my style.

With this project, I was asked to paint a girl on a snowboard who would loosely resemble this customer’s daughter. I was eager to create the piece, as I love snowboarding and thought that the composition could well intertwine with my signature abstract background. The girl that the painting was created after has reddish hair and blue eyes, and I also did my best to mimic her thin nose and a smile. Result was a big success! I love the painting and the customer does too. I look forward to creating more paintings in my “Girl” series. …And, also really need to get on that snowboard. It’s been a couple of years!

Here are some progress stages of the painting, from initial sketch to completed piece.

Snowboard Girl sketch

Snowboard girl painting progress 1


Snowboard girl painting progress 3

Snowboard girl painting by Anastasia Mak

Blue Floral commissioned painting

This commissioned piece is a 24×36 acrylic on canvas. I got contacted by a customer who requested an original similar to my (older) Blue December piece. I got very excited at the opportunity to relive the process of painting a grouping of flowers! However, I made the plants and colors a little bit different because I wanted this new piece to be unique. I enjoy creating these floral compositions just as much as I enjoy working on cityscapes. Actually, painting tangled organic forms provides a nice compliment to painting linear, rigid buildings – so these two opposites work quite well in balancing out my “painting brain”.

Here are the progress shots of Blue Floral commission:

Blue Flowers painting sketch

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

…And, after a request to change a few stem colors to be more muted – here it the completed piece along with some detail shots! I am quite happy with the result, and the piece was a pleasure to work on.

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting commission

This 24×30 acrylic on canvas – Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting – was commissioned by a couple who has ties to British Columbia. The first commissioned painting I created for them – Cherry Blossoms – went in the room of their then-newborn baby girl. Fast-forward a couple of years, the baby is now an adorable toddler, and her little baby sister has just arrived! Baby #2 needs a painting  to adorn her room as well, of course! (…And Anastasia Mak is happy to come to the rescue). The idea behind these paintings is for each child to have a special piece that is “soft” and “pretty” enough to serve as baby / toddler decor, but also unique and with mature subject matter for them to appreciate as they grow older. What a great concept!

Point Atkinson Lighthouse is located in West Vancouver, Canada.  While I have not (yet) been there in person, I created this piece from various photos emailed to me by the customer. The Lighthouse sits on some large granite boulders, and I had so much fun using acrylic paint to play with the texture of these rocks. I feel lucky to get such fun assignments, and hope that little girl enjoys growing up with this original in her room.

Below are some shots of the painting’s progress, with the completed result at the bottom.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 2

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 3Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 4

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting by Anastasia Mak

And detail:

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting by Anastasia Mak

“Patagonia” commissioned painting

I have not been there yet, but when this customer sent me their photos of the Patagonia commissioned painting subject matter, I instantly recognized them as at Fitz Roy Mountains – because they have such distinct sharp shapes. The photos, of course, made me instantly excited about the possibilities of capturing the majestic beauties of canvas.

Fitz Roy Mountains

We discussed painting colors, and the combination of warm fall hues in the foreground with white snow and bright blue skies emerged in my head, which I then worked to bring out in the painting. Photos below show the painting’s progress, from an initial sketch to the final close-ups.

Patagonia Sketch

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

And now, for the final painting round – time to ease up on the clouds and let the mountains draw all the attention:

Patagonia painting by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting by Anastasia Mak

Fitz Roy mountains painting by Anastasia Mak

That was so much fun to work on. Needless to say, a Patagonia hiking trip will be happening for me eventually!

“Santorini” commissioned painting

Santornini painting by Anastasia Mak

This 30×60 baby was a very time-consuming and fun labor of love. A lovely couple, who lives in San Francisco, has contacted me about creating a painting from their Santorini honeymoon photograph. After I finished drooling over the beauty of their photo, I was excited to get started – even though the sheer amount of detail and the number of stairs and buildings guaranteed that the painting was going to take some time to complete!  But – I love complex cityscapes, and when they also involve blue waters of the Mediterranean, this kind of challenge appears simply delicious to me.

This was my assignment photo (taken from the honeymooners’ hotel – aaah, to stay in a room with THAT view!):


And here are some shots of the painting’s progress:

santorini sketch

santorini by anastasia mak

Santorini by Anastasia Mak

Santorini by Anastasia Mak

Santorini painting by Anastasia MakSantorini painting by Anastasia Mak

La Scalinata a Mezzonotte – commissioned painting

This new piece, “La Scalinata a Mezzonotte” was completed in February. Done on a 16×24 gallery wrap canvas, it depicts the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, in my “signature” elongated style. The customer of this project enjoys spending a lot of time in Rome, and he sent me a few photos from his last stay there. The photos were taken at Christmas time, hence the Obelisk is turned into a Christmas tree (with green laser beams at the top, oh yes!). There was a lady with an umbrella in one of his photos, looking up at the stairs – she had to be incorporated into the painting! – as well a slightly mysterious full moon, surrounded by clouds.

Photos below show painting’s progress, from start to finish.

spanish steps sketch by Anastasia Mak

Spanish Steps painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Spanish Steps painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Spanish Steps painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Spanish Steps painting by Anastasia Mak