A few months ago I was commissioned to paint a ‘wild’ garden. The client has a number of my paintings and loves my style, which always makes it easier—actually I refuse commissions if the interested party is not familiar with my work. I think most of us agree that we put added pressure on ourselves when it comes to a commission. Personally speaking I want to envision and embody what the client ‘sees’ and for them to embrace my response.
As research for this commission I visited a number of gardens for possible paint sites and forwarded these images to the client. In his reply it was clear that he was worried re a disconnect in our ‘vision’. Here I was concerned about representing specific gardens, and did he want a road, or building, in the background etc. In turn, he envisioned a visual smorgasboard of colour, movement, and life through shapes, line, colour and texture and for the culmination to take him to other places-I was so relieved!
Even with carte blanche to ‘go for it’ I still require a starting off point, and I work out what to incorporate and where..So over the last few weeks I have been painting small studies of colour and movement from my own garden, which was liberating because I know it so well. Below is an example. I’ve also been plucking up these sacrificial flowers as reference and my studio is filled with honey jars of individual blossoms. Some wilt faster than others so I really have to coordinate my timing re flower picking and painting!
When I immerse myself into the physicality of painting it is in anticipation of the ‘endorphin’ high-where the painting takes over and transcends. For me the only way to achieve this as well as a meditative state in the studio is through guaranteed big- fat- chunks- of time—time with absolutely no interruptions other than bathroom breaks, food and water. ( I'd be fine in jail if I could bring my paints!) I always begin my workday with a long dog run in the field to inspire me -and to wear them out so I can work work work. I am hoping to have that, and the painting, finished (and approved) soon! Then maybe the air will cool and my schedule will clear and I can get back out for some fresh plein air.
August, Remains of the Day
oil on canvas