I think it's finally time to put these paintings up here. It's a funny old business, painting commissions for people. I know I am just the last in a long line of artists who have discussed this issue - many of them far more eloquently than me. But here's the thing. I'm usually pretty careful to be objective about commissions, and thought I was pretty hard and professional about the whole thing. A customer asks for a painting, you discuss it at length, I do a few quick roughs, and if it's going in the right general direction, I push on. If it's not, well, it's no big deal, you listen closely and head in a different direction. However, last summer, I got caught out pretty badly and it's taken me a long while to feel like I'm ready to expose myself again.
I was asked to do a painting for a friend. A good friend. We talked about it at length, and then after a couple of months of pondering, I did some serious meditation, and really channelled the muse. I was so thrilled with what I had come up with - I thought it was perfect! I did some roughs, and spent hours working on the complicated border design which I thought represented my friend absolutely. And here is where it went wrong. Usually at this point, I have a very humble approach. I may have spent considerable time thinking, and working on roughs, but I haven't put any of my soul into it. I'm pretty noncomittal at this stage, and quite prepared for rejection. This time I was cocky and arrogant and exceedingly pleased with myself. I skipped around the house singing 'this is the best thing I have ever done' to my family. I rang my sister and told her how perfect and amazing my picture would be. I emailed my friend and told him this was going to be awesome, and what did he think of the roughs?
It wasn't what he wanted.
I was absolutely floored by this, shockingly so. I was so unprepared for it, that it completely shook me emotionally and creatively for a long time, and it took me a couple of months to pick myself up again from it. I couldn't distance myself from this, and move on with a new painting, and at last I decided to go ahead and paint the original painting anyway, for myself, because it needed to get out, and I didn't think I could do a new one until I had 'exorcised ' the first. Once done, I put it away quietly. Eventually, I picked up my pencil and did new roughs, and a new painting. This one was right, and my friend was thrilled. And here is the lesson. It was not in any way the fault or problem of my friend, whom I love dearly. It was me.
I put MY heart and soul into his painting, when I should have put HIS soul into it.
I'm pleased with the eventual painting, but it doesn't have much of my soul in it.
And I guess that's right. You would think, this far down the line, that I would have learnt this by now. I thought I had, but I'm going to keep the other painting, just to remind me of this! It's such an old lesson - pride comes before a fall, or, Never be cocky until the roughs have been approved!
Anyway, I've got rid of the emotional baggage attached to this, and can laugh about it now, so I'm curious to know which of these two paintings you like best? (I honestly wont mind which you choose!)
So, after the emotional stuff, here is something to make you laugh. In an attempt to beat the never ending rain, I made a comedy Sou'wester style cover for my riding hat. So far my children have refused point blank to ride out with me if I wear it. It keeps the rain off though ;-)
The girls went on a Christmas ride, stopping for hot chocolate and mince pies half way. Captain enjoyed the mince pies as much as they did!
I have spent the beggining of the year dealing with the aftermath of the babies new found hobby. It's called 'breaking in and breaking out'.They have broken into the feed shed, discovered how to undo bolts and latches, and how to push fence posts over so they can go exploring the woods. They have caused a large amount of damage in the last few weeks, and yet miraculously have escaped unscathed. The only thing I can say in their favour is that they do both come when called. Earlier this week when I discovered them missing, and the fence and gate to the woods looked as if a bulldozer had driven over them, I called for 5 minutes. They came thundering down from somewhere deep in the wood, over the wall and through the thick undergrowth, inordinately pleased with themselves.
Perry looks like butter wouldn't melt , doesn't he? Don't be fooled.
The children have now been back at school for a week, and I have been able to get back into my studio. I began with a landscape to remind me of summer in the dark depths of winter.
Then it was back to 'The Woods Maiden and her King'.
I've been tucking birds away in the ivy. Chaffinch and wren, blackbird and blue tit.
Honey bee, and nuthatch.
And done. I think.