As far as New Year’s resolutions go, the one that I made that went “This year I am going to say “yes!” to everything” was quite possibly one of the most interesting years of my life so far!
From painting on TV, to becoming the Chairperson of an International Art Group, there are always unexpected opportunities if you keep your eyes wide open.
With that spirit for adventure and if I’m honest a low boredom threshold, I very rarely turn a challenge down that forces me out of my comfort zone and into unchartered territory. It has allowed me to grow in confidence and try new things; from putting on exhibitions, to delivering speeches to an audience of far more experienced and knowledgable people than me!
Also any artist that works on a commission basis will tell you that their worst nightmare is to receive a commission where the photos are blurred or the animal you are being asked to paint is no longer with us!
So with a positive attitude and a sense of intrigue I agreed to produce a painting for a new Funeral Service in town.
I was given several reference photos of the carriage with the horses, Big Fred and Maverick.
Friesian horses have to be one of the most handsome breeds and with their resemblance to a light draught horse they are capable of great strength. Big Fred and Maverick were no exception! With manes to die for and an upright posture they knew they were handsome and posed for the camera like they were on a film set!
The commission was now about more than a horse drawn hearse. Having met these beautiful horses and made a connection with them, I now felt duty bound to capture their spirit on canvas. No mean feat when they are pulling a carriage driven by a local legend!
So portrait of said legend, portrait of said horses and a pretty good replication of the particular carriage that I was privy to study, I now had the biggest painting challenge of my life (so far!)
I knew that I wanted this painting to be uplifting as it was going on the wall of Jo’s funeral parlour. I wanted the people who entered with sadness to at least see the artwork and feel hope and warmth.
I took to the canvas using big energetic brush strokes and before each session took time to get into the zone. This was not just a study from photographs – it needed to come from the heart and in order for that to happen I had to convey that emotion with each and every brush stroke.
As there was an element of portraiture in the painting both Fred (Gee), Big Fred and Maverick had to be recognisable so I honed in on their key features, played them up and diluted the rest.
I spent a long time living with the painting between sessions, to the point where I think Jo thought I had given up but with her encouragement, open mind and willingness to let me have time to play with it I think that we have managed to come out with a painting that speaks of energy, life, vitality, colour and hope. I have come through the most incredibly spiritual experience, and it really has made me question so many things. A totally enriching experience!
It is never easy to go through something that you only ever experience when you have to, but Jo is the consummate professional and she provides a bespoke, professional and affordable service to with packages to suit every budget.
‘Transition’ is now on display at Three Shires Funeral Service in Congleton.
For enquiries about commissions please contact me!
I am an artist.