A Special Commission

Every commission is special. Of course it is – if someone asks you (and pays you) to paint a particular scene, or pet, or person, its because the subject matter is important. That’s why I love to paint commissions. It’s terrifying at the same time, because you just never know if what you produce will quite fit the bill. That’s especially true of portraits – painting someone you’ve never met in the flesh, but whose face is known and loved by the recipient. I always ask for a number of photo sources if possible, so that I can build up an image in my mind of how the person looks from different angles, in different lights.

So I thought I’d share my latest commission with you, with the permission of the buyer.

This is a beautiful cottage in North Wales, owned by the person who asked me to paint it. They live most of the time in Coventry, but this is their second home. And it is just idyllic – I’ve visited there and it’s a very healing place to be. But with the present covid-19 situation, and ever-increasing lockdowns all over the UK, they haven’t been able to visit the cottage much.

So this painting reminds them of their beautiful home away from home. And I’m pleased to be able to give them that link with something which feels quite far away at present.

But every commission, as I said, is special. Here are some of the other commissions I’ve painted over the past couple of years.

Venice, special to the couple who commissioned it as they honeymooned there. Painted from their own photograph.
A glacier somewhere cold! Special because the couple spent time there on one of their first holidays away with each other.
Joseph, special because this was a gift, commissioned by his uncle, for his parents.
What a cutey! I’m not surprised the parents wanted this one immortalised.
Winston, special because he was one of a kind – certainly to his owner! He’s since popped off to kitty-heaven, so this is even more important as a memory holder.
This was painted to be given as a gift by the three children to their parents on their wedding anniversary.

This next one was interesting – I was contacted by someone who wanted a copy of an old watercolour doing. The only photograph he had of the original painting was tiny. He also sent a number of photos of the house as it is now – it happens to be the house where he lives. So I merged the watercolour, as unclear and small as it was, with the details from the present day photos.

And So commissions are always special. They always mean something to the buyer. And I feel very privileged to be able to contribute to that special memory, that special occasion. Scared, yes – will it be what they envisaged? But when I am painting these pictures, I am always deeply aware of the emotional resonance which they may carry. There are some which are even more special. They gain resonance with time, and with events. So I’ll leave you with this one. This is a mother and daughter portrait commissioned by the husband of the daughter. It was a lovely portrait to paint – the love between the two is very clear. And faces with a bit of history to them are always fascinating to paint.

But not long after I completed this, the older lady passed away. I hope my portrait brings joy, even if tinged with sadness.

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