Commissioned painting of Lyon, France - Harriet Lawless Artist

Commissioned painting of Lyon, France

In December last year I was commissioned to paint a custom painting of Lyon, France.

My client's partner is from Lyon but lives in Sydney, Australia - about as far away from home as you can get! This painting was a gift to her for Christmas to bring her homeland into her Aussie home.

When I start a commission, the most important thing is to work out exactly what my client wants. I spend a week exploring concepts and compositions with sketches and small paintings. I send photos of these to my client and incorporate their feedback before starting on their final painting.

My client wasn't sure what he exactly wanted. So we worked together to figure out exactly what he wanted for the final piece.

Pencil Sketches

The first step was pencil sketches focusing on the city's river confluence. Lyon is unique as it is settled on the meeting of two major rivers. This was a good place to start exploring compositions to capture this beautiful city.

I do black and white pencil sketches first, before painting. If the scene doesn't work in greyscale it won't look good in colour either. It's important to get the bones of the composition solid before we get distracted with colour.

Harriet Lawless artist sketch of aerial view of Lyon, France for custom commissioned oil painting including the river confluence and notre dame in the foreground

Harriet Lawless artist sketch of Lyon, France for custom commissioned oil painting focusing on the river confluence

 Harriet Lawless artist sketch of Lyon, France for custom commissioned oil painting

After much discussion, where my client changed his mind and decided he didn't want the painting to focus on the confluence, he decided to proceed with the third scene. This composition is less busy and more simply focuses on the stunning architecture - Église Saint-Georges de Lyon in the foreground and the Basilica of Notre Dame of Fourvière and Tour métallique de Fourvière on the hill above.

Paint Sketch

My second step for a commission is to paint a small painting of the chosen composition so I can get feedback from my client and incorporate changes to make sure they're happy. In this way, we both know exactly what the final commissioned painting will look like before I start working on it.

My client was very happy with the trial painting, but we decided to move the water line down for the final piece and to include a more dramatic sky.

Final piece - drawing

Below are images of the pencil drawing for the final painting. You can see the grid lines I've drawn onto the panel which are based on the golden ratio and guide my composition design. I make sure the drawing is very precise before I start to paint.


I sent these photos of the drawing to my client. He was happy, so I got started on the painting.

Final piece - painting

Here are some progress shots of the start of the painting process. I've started with the sky and water and then started blocking in the buildings from left to right.

After the painting is blocked in with basic colours and shapes, I get stuck into the details. So many tiny windows to paint!

I send regular progress photos to my client so he can give feedback and see the progress.


And finally, the finished piece!

This painting now proudly lives in Sydney and I hope it brings many fond memories of France to its new owners.

If you'd like to enquire about a custom painting, please do so here.

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