Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Got there in the end

To be honest, I wrote the text further down this post about 6 months ago after hopefully completing that commission. I might have been waiting for the client to return the painting!  6 months later she still hasn't and still has a 2nd painting "on loan". Scroll down for images. I've edited the text.

I found the old draft while looking for something else, in fact, a list provoked by a list here. I'm not a friend of lists, to be honest. I think it's good for my brain to actually remember what I'm going to do, buy etc. But I suppose there are lots of people who do like to write things down. It reassures them, keeps them to their rules, and generally helps them to use their time more economically. Good for them. If I have things on a list, I immediately start avoiding the bits I can't be bothered with. I ask myself if it is helpful to struggle into such a "corset", like a lady of bygone years trying to conserve her waistline. In those days of extreme fashion, ladies suffered what was called "the vapours". They fainted for lack of oxygen. Fell to the ground like skittles. Fanned themselves furiously with imported Spanish fans and sniffed at what they called smelling salts, which probably contained ammonia! They couldn't breathe properly when laced up so radically. Lack of air to breathe due to lack of room to expand their lungs in apparel laced from armpits to waist. A totally ridiculous state of affairs.
I think I would get "the vapours" if I had to go along with rules such as "(l)arge patterns of complexity and arbitrary abstraction" or "(o)pportunities for high colour in counterpoint" (a contradiction in terms, by the way) as published in today's list. For more on that list, please contact me for the link.
What does all that mean, anyway? I don't really understand -  despite my higher education. That list referred to photography. How would it fit in with my painting, or writing, or arranging (for chorus) or writing new music or anything else, for that matter, or even with my attitude to photography?  In other words, I'd need a prelist before this shortlist, or a postlist after it because I need to know what belongs on my list and it has to be expressed in a form that I can relate to. I have to understand it and the consequences of sticking to it.I will not be printing it and sticking it on a wall, as I suspect quite a lot of reader will.
The readers of today's list should put their thinking caps on, try to connect its relevance with what they do. And that will take what we in the north of the UK call "kiddology". Shades of the Emperor's new clothes, except that we have presumably known all along about our nakedness. Why else would we want to follow such a list of instructions by claiming their relevance to what we do?
To conclude, one instruction is missing on that list: "If in doubt, use your intuition." It won't necessarily produce better results, if the talent and acumen are not there, but neither will the other instructions.
Painting on commission has its drawbacks. For instance, if you've gone to enormous trouble to paint a hydrangea like the one in my last post for a client with a predominantly beige living room apart from an oblong wall decoration consisting of a coloured photo of Greek vases stuck onto a wooden frame, and then changed the colouring because the client was elsewhere.
A few weeks later she turned up again to collect her painting. Her sofa was no longer a quiet beige, but a black leather look-alike with orange, black and purple cushions on a bright red seating area. The sofa went round a corner and had seating room for an estimated 6-8 persons!!!!
Now the delicate pink painting I had transformed from dark red would have screamed to be let out of her room - had I hung it there. Fortunately I saw the new sofa in time to tell the client the painting wasn't dry! She insisted on looking at it however, though I told her it was no longer suitable. She liked the background, and wanted it left as it was. What a relief. A lot of thought went into that background. I liked it and actually liked the painting in its pink garb, so I painted another hydrangea - not pink, however! The client saw it and thought she might prefer it, but I don't know yet because (6 months later) she has not informed me. This is the other painting:

Here's the commissioned painting, half hidden behind a jingling candelabra in her dining recess!

unsatisfactory lighting prevented a decent image

Some of the stages this canvas endured:

early on, after mapping out
a bit later

stensils added to enhance the surface


I thought the painting was finished!
then the client disappeared so I painted the clusters
smaller and pink and hung it on my own wall
she really did reappear but in the meantime she'd replaced
her beige sofa with a red and black leather-look affair
with orange and purple cushion, so pink would not match
-  but she still wanted the painting

lighting rather untruthful here, but all her new colours are either
in the flower or the background - I rather like it, but she's kept it!

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