Lynbrook artist Natalie Katz found a new subject when she moved from Brooklyn to Long Island almost five years ago: houses.
It happened after her oldest son's school asked parents to find vendors for a fundraiser.
"A friend, knowing I'm an artist, suggested I raffle off a commissioned house portrait,” says Katz, 36. She did a watercolor of her own home to use as a sample and raffled off a custom house portrait. A few parents who wanted the portrait but did not win hired her after the event.
Through word of mouth and social media exposure, Katz has painted about 50 watercolor house portraits over the past 4.5 years, she says. Most are gifts, and some are commissioned by real estate agents to give to clients who have sold a home.
Sometimes, a client will send photographs to paint from; if she is painting a house nearby, she might stop by to photograph it herself. She charges $250 to $350 and paints on Arches cold-press watercolor block that measures 12 by 14 inches, unless otherwise requested. Purchasers display her work framed, sometimes in a new home, sometimes in a vacation home, sometimes in the home that is the subject of the painting.
On Instagram, Katz, whose maiden name is Ozog, shares her work under the username ozogart. She works from a home office she shares with her husband, Paul Katz, who is project manager for a company that implements computer systems to organize clients' finances. The two have four sons: Jacob, 8, Lev, 6, Isaac, 4, and Elliot, 8 months.
Katz grew up in Michigan, where "the houses are a lot more cookie-cutter . . . I love the character in the houses here."
Once, a woman commissioned her to paint a before-and-after house portrait as a Christmas gift to her father. Her father had built their Baldwin home and lived there with his five children even after their mother died. He had updated the home over the years.
“She sent me the video of him opening it, and he had tears of joy in his eyes,” Katz says. “I hear this often when I do family homes or portraits with so many memories.”