Cheapskate Seeks Perfect Gift

I’m nearing the end of the latest draft of my latest book and realizing that it’s probably going to need at least one more go-round before I show it to anyone. In the mean time, I was just invited to my neighbor’s 40th birthday party, which meant that I’d have to come up with a unique gift that said “Wow! 40!” without sounding too shocked. And if I could do it on the cheap, then so much the better. Which is why I decided to give him a painting of his front lawn.

My first pass wasn’t bad (for fourth grader maybe) but when I finished, I realized that I got the colors all wrong:

So I went back to the drawing board (pardon the pun) and made this sketch:

Which I painted over to get this:

One big mistake I made was with the arm of the chair on the right. To me, the angle seemed all wrong, so I fixed in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I also added some flowers to the garden in front of the house and some frames in the window. One mistake I couldn’t fix, however, was the outline around the leaves of the tree. Even as I was drawing it, I was wondering why I did it.

In any case, the final version looks like this:

I suppose my heavy use of Photoshop raises some issues about whether this is art or not, but I’m not really aiming for “art” with a big A. Mainly I just want a gift that doesn’t cost a whole lot and won’t end up on a table at my neighbor’s next yard sale causing no end of awkwardness as I pick it up in front of him and ask how much it costs.