Commissioned painting – Lakeview House Portrait

This 16×20 acrylic on canvas painting was completed in January. It is a portrait of a home located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. I inserted a little slice of Chicago skyline, visible from Lake Michigan North Shore, into the painting. Original sketch also had the El Train in it, but in the end we decided to not include it. If you look closely, you will see a black cat – one of the residents of the house – in the first floor window.

Here are the painting progress photos, starting with the sketch:

Lakeview house portrait sketch

Lakeview House portrait painting progress

Lakeview House portrait painting progress

Lakeview House portrait by Anastasia Mak

Commissioned painting – Fonthill Castle

This 16×16 acrylic on wood commissioned painting was a wife’s gift to her husband. The couple got married in the beautiful Fonthill Castle (which is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvannia and was built in early 1900’s); and the entrance pillars in the painting’s foreground are marked with their initials.

Photos below document painting’s progress from initial sketch up to a finished framed piece.

Fonthill Castle sketch

Fontfill Castle painting progress 1

Fontfill Castle painting progress 2

Fontfill Castle painting progress 3

Fontfill Castle painting completed

“Milwaukee Art Museum” commissioned painting

This 16×20 canvas is of the beautiful building that is Milwaukee Art Museum, along with a little bit of Milwaukee skyline surrounding it. The museum building was designed by Santiago Calatrava. This painting was commissioned by a Milwaukee resident. This was my first ever piece depicting Milwaukee, but I look forward to creating more Milwaukee pieces!

Below are the painting progress photos along with the finished piece.








“Chicago Reflections” commissioned painting

This commissioned painting was completed in September. It is a 30×30 acrylic on canvas, and its colors and concept were based on my original “Orange Chicago” piece. The customer, who spent some memorable years in Chicago, but now lives out East, wanted a composition of buildings that capture her Chicago life and experiences. Amongst other famous landmarks, we have: Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital, Tempo Cafe, The Drake Hotel, The Chicagoan Apartment Building, and Northwestern Abbott Hall with Northwestern Gate in front of it.

Timing of this painting was especially great because soon after it was completed, The Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital has met the wrecking ball. Sadly, the iconic building is now in the process of being demolished.

Here are the progress photos of the painting, leading up to the completed piece:

(click on each image to see it in larger size)

Concept sketch on paper:



Sketch on canvas (some of the composition has been adjusted):



Stages of painting – in – progress:




“Chicago Reflections” – completed




“Fulton Market Disctrict View” Commissioned painting

This large 36×60 commissioned painting was created for a Chicago couple who used to live in West Loop (or, specifically, the Fulton Market disctrict neighborhood). Now that they have a growing family, they have moved to a larger home and are no longer residing in the condo, but they have been missing the view.

So, the view that I painted here I captured with my camera in December 2012 from their West Loop condo balcony. I call this the ‘industrial’ part of Chicago. We are looking west, so Chicago’s skyscrapers are not visible from this angle, but instead the balcony looks out to El tracks, the interstate, the United Center, plenty of older brick buildings, and numerous beautiful sunsets. Many old meat market and factory buildings are still standing – some have been converted into trendy lofts, and some, such as Fulton Market building, are in the process of being demolished. This neighborhood is “very Chicago”, and I hope, that despite all the ongoing change and demolishion, it continues to retain its rusty / trendy / brick character for years to come.

Here is one of the photos I used to create this painting:


I started with the simple sketch on paper:


And then, the more detailed sketch on canvas:



The then the painting progress began:





And finally, the completed piece:



Then, the painting was varnished. Varnishing adds a protective layer to the acrylic paint and also brings out all the bright colors:


And finally, delivered and hung! Customers were happy, and I loved working on this piece.



“Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossoms” commissioned painting

“Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossoms” is a 24×30 acrylic on canvas commissioned painting that was completed back in October. This painting was created to be hung in a little baby girl’s room. Girl’s parents are from D.C., but now live in Chicago. The thing they really miss about D.C. is the annual cherry blossoms season. So, together with the couple we brainstormed a piece which can be classified as “girly, but not too girly” – and painting features The Jefferson Memorial, surrounded by landscape full of blossoming trees and branches.

though baby M. was a little too sleepy to approve this painting herself
when I brought it over, at a few weeks old, she is still officially my
youngest customer! 🙂

Below is a series of painting progress photos, starting with a preliminary sketch and ending with the completed painting:











Waveland Bowl art decor by Anastasia Mak!

Just recently I wrapped up a project that involves the most UNUSUAL use of my artwork to date!

The images of my Chicago paintings got purchased and installed as masking panels over FORTY BOWLING LANES at
Chicago’s largest bowling center – Waveland Bowl. Yep, from now on, when you go there, you’ll be throwing your ball under my paintings (well, prints of my paintings) – so I do hope it helps your aim!

The artwork panels were printed by Chicago-based studio, Marshall Productions.

I also have to add, the Waveland Bowl owner, Gary, was such a joy to work with. This may be a large facility, but they are a true Chicago family business.

My bowling skills are very rusty, but it is time to put them to use again. We have a couple of bowling outings scheduled next month – can’t wait to return there!





Pathway Services entrance mural commission

It was a wonderful experience to travel to Jacksonville, IL earlier this month for a mural project. Pathway Services, Unlimited is a great organization that provides opportunities, activities, and other types of assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities and other physical or mental challenges. The organization has recently expanded and moved into a brand new building. So they wanted to brighten up their entrance wall.

Through Jacksonville’s Imagine Foundation, I was commissioned to travel downstate for a few days and create this mural. The design was my own and came from a couple of recent paintings of mine. The mural was painted with latex wall paints.

Total painting time added up to about 30 hours, and it was HARD work. In the end of my 3 painting days my arms and back were quite sore and I was slightly dizzy from the paint fumes. But the project was SO VERY rewarding. People who work at Pathway Services are the nicest, friendliest bunch. And to watch their clients faces light up with a smile when they approached my developing mural was priceless. Thank you, Pathway, for this incredible opportunity!

Here is the completed mural (my apron kinda goes with the design, eh?):

Pathway Services mural by Anastasia Mak

And all the progress photos, starting with the sketch:

Pathway Services mural sketch by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

Pathway Services mural process by Anastasia Mak

“Cape Town” commissioned painting

This is a 24×36 commissioned painting of Cape Town, South Africa, that I have completed in July. The customer who ordered this piece lives in UK, so we did all of our communication by email and then I shipped him the final result. He is originally from South Africa, hence Cape Town has a special meaning to him. I have not yet been there, but South Africa is certainly on my list!!! I worked off the photographs that he emailed me.

Cape Town has a gorgeous waterfront, so seeing all the initial photos and visualizing the possibility of painting this beauty has me drooling from the beginning!

Below is the progress of the painting from start to finish. Click on each photo to see it in larger size.

Fist, as always, I create the outlines:



Then, the very dark colors (a.k.a. “underpainting”) get filled in:



More dark colors now fill out the Table Mountain, and I started developing the foreground details and adding highlights:


I have started doing my “crazy thing” with the sky. I knew I wanted to add some clouds yet in the end give the sky that warm sunset glow. (The sun actually sets over the water and across from Table Mountain.) This was my initial sky development, looking a little dark still. Both the customer and I agreed that clouds in the end should look less stormy:

Then I sat down for another painting session, and somehow my sky ended up going in an entirely different direction. No vertical lines! No stormy clouds! More of a “traditional look”, if you will:



But, after seeing this sky version, the customer said: “What have you done? You have ruined it!!!” …Ok, ok, I am joking – that is not what he said, and he was actually extremely polite. But, my original “signature” vertical lines is what he really liked, and this new sky direction was a total surprise to him. Frankly, it was my mistake for getting so carried away while painting that this dramatic change took place. It was also a slight email miscommunication, as I thought his wording indicated that he wanted a much “softer” look.

Luckily, when painting, every request for correction just presents an opportunity to make that painting better. Also, I LOVE painting skies, so going back to those puffy clouds and vertical lines was no problem for me at all. And in the end, when a painting has multiple thick layers of paint on it, it just adds to the richness of its texture – so, there are no mistakes when painting with acrylics. Only adjustments!

After a few more brushstrokes, I presented him with “Sky #3”:



And that was a winner! A few more highlights, and the painting is complete:

Here are a couple of detail shots:

When Mr. and Mrs. V in England finally received and opened a giant package from across the pond, I got a happy email telling me how much they loved the painting. I also loved working on it!! And as for my personal opinion on the sky, I still can’t decide which version – #2 or #3 – I like better. Looking at the photos now, I think I indeed like the final result – #3 – best (#2 does seem a bit too traditional). However, when sky #2 was there sitting on my easel, it just looked great. Something about that paint texture which doesn’t translate in digital photos and can only be seen in person made sky #2 work for for me as well.

Now I definitely have to visit Cape Town.

“The Buena Vista Cafe” commissioned painting

This 9×12 Acrylic on Canvas commissioned painting features a still life inspired by the popular, historic San Francisco watering hole – The Buena Vista Cafe. This cafe’s specialty is an Irish Coffee. The painting was created from my customer’s photographs, taken right there at the bar. He lives in Louisville, but visits San Francisco so often that is has become his second home, I think.

This little piece was so much fun to work on – the only problem is, it made me a little thirsty for a perfectly crafted Irish Coffee.

First 2 photographs below show the painting’s progress. Last two show the completed piece.