A Completed Commission

The Final Version

This is the last commission of the year, and it is finished, I am pleased to say. I have had to keep in touch with the client, at every stage of the painting, which I don’t usually do, as it does make a lot of work . Having said that I have enjoyed this commission more than I thought, and maybe stage by stage consultation is not a bad idea, certainly after my last bad experience

However, they were nice people to deal with, and although they made a few changes here and there, basically they were onside.The painting was collected today and I am pleased to say that they were thrilled with the result

The subject of the painting was a Victorian cottage deep in the Surrey woods. Probably it had originally been an estate worker’s cottage, built around 1840 with a later addition.

I went to look at the cottage quite early one morning. The sun had risen. At this time of year, the shadows are long. The woods behind the house were brightly lit, most of the leaves had gone, and the light filtering through the branches gave them a translucent feel. To get that effect on paper needed thinking about. I used a colour that I don’t use often, quinacradone gold. It was perfect for the job and just gave the effect of sun-bathed trees that I was looking for

Most of the house was in shadow. I removed some as I wanted the effect of bright sun hitting the brickwork here and there. The combination of light and dark should be dramatic

When I was on site, the client brought their little dog, a Labrador bitch puppy. She was a beautiful colour, gold. Would I include her in the painting. I like to please, so I said yes, but I was anxious. I have painted dogs before but never done a dog portrait, especially one so tiny. She would be the size of a fingernail

I had taken some pictures. I have to say that for a lively puppy, she was very well behaved and posed beautifully. I picked one of the photographs and did a full sized drawing, which I was pleased with. I then reduced it in size to a thumbnail and put it in the sketch, and went on from there. When the time came to paint, I used the same gold as the trees in the background, and used more of the same for shadows on the dog. It worked better then I thought possible

Mostly straightforward otherwise, except that I could not get definition to stay in the cottage features. Overnight the colour would dry and disappear, which is not that unusual in watercolour. Eventually I reddened the brick colour with vermilion, which darkened the building and somehow improved the brick texture. Again something I have learned for another time

Commissions can certainly be testing, and very occasionally go awry, like my last unhappy experience, but they can also be broadening and make you attempt something you wouldn’t normally tackle. Will I start doing animal portraits? Hmm perhaps not, but animals in landscape are a possibility

7 thoughts on “A Completed Commission

      • Yes it does, which annoyed me at the time. I did take extra care with this last commission. keeping in touch stage by stage, which is not what i usually do. On the plus side, about a month ago I did an exhibition at the local hospital, and sold four, and one week later at our local annual exhibition I sold another, so I consoled myself with that
        I know you sell a phenomenal amount, and rightly so. I love looking at your work. It has a nostalgic feel to it, which is soothing considering the troubled world we live in.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Monsieur, this commission of yours, I think, could be rightfully called your MASTERPIECE. From an amateur writer’s point of view, I can tell that masterpieces aren’t always the grandest of paintings or poems or writings, it’s something that you’ve poured your heart into and turned something very ordinary into a special one. I can tell from your writing that you have poured your heart in it, going into details of how shadows are long and how translucent sun bathed trees looked, which is most enjoyable to read and even makes one feel that they are there while reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Farzana thank you
      It is certainly true that a lot of me went into this painting. Kind of you to say masterpiece, I don’t think I would go that far, but I do believe it turned out well
      The previous commission went sour on me, and you can read what I wrote about it. I was therefore extra careful with this last one, and checked with the client at stages which I have never done before. They were very pleased with the result, and as it was a present for their daughter and her husband who have just moved into this house, and are starting to renovate, they were naturally anxious
      I can only hope that the daughter likes it too


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