I was having a friendly email exchange with Samantha's Studio a fellow artist and blogger from Enfield, North London. (Please take a look and follow Samantha's blog. It's still in the early stages of development but I know there is some stunning artwork to come later).
However, we got onto the subject of commissions and how we were puzzled by people who send an old black and white snap of Aunt Doris who is standing in a field, 100 yards from the camera and expect us to create a portrait from that minuscule amount of information.
I was checking through my library of images (looking for inspiration) when I came across this 'artistic extravaganza' which was a commission which I should have turned down flat but being the sort of person that doesn't like to say no, I half heartedly agreed to take it on. Originally, they just wanted a simple colour field of lilac and green to go with some curtains or furnishings but having accepted the commission, the client then went bonkers and decided that she wanted it to represent virtually her whole life history. Gulp!
Here are some of the things she wanted it to portray. To the left are her supporting parents who are propping up a horseshoe shaped motif. Yes that one escaped me too. Her husband had a repetitive job in an office where he had to wear a tie and was miserable. A representation of a praying Buddha would be nice with her Mum and Dad naked in the woods in the background in the moonlight. Just to the right of the Buddha is the client in a foetal position, because that's the way she liked to sleep and the bubbles above are her night-time thoughts. Top left is a total eclipse of the sun which just happened to be occurring at that time. Yeah! Why not, just chuck it in. Her favourite flower was the lily and it would be really, really nice to use that as a basis to show her and her husband as a loving couple cradling their little baby. Yeah right. Below them is the loving couple just melting in one anothers arms with passion. I really can't remember what the road leading into the distance was all about except it was probably my escape route, and as for the red 'thing', I can't recall, but it may have been that I had blood on my mind. It seems so out of place, why on earth red, there? Big mistake on my part.
All that and I had to keep lilac and green as the dominant colours. Why the hell did I agree to do that and furthermore how did I do it at all? I must have been as mad as the client at the time.
I used pastels on a half sheet of Ingres paper for this and just in case you are reading this Mrs Sutherland, I don't normally allow people to go five years without paying, so any time you're passing a cheque would be nice. Oh well, I put it down to experience, the painting probably ended up in a jumble sale or charity shop anyway. Be interesting to see who has it now, and what they think it's all about. I can't even remember the title of this painting now. Maybe 'Exasperation'?
Commissions? No thanks.