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.
Three Shires Funeral Service is a new start up, run by a lady called Jo Nicholls. I met Jo through our mutual love for horses and the fact that we had our four legged friends at the same yard. I had no idea she was a funeral director until we had an evening out and I have to admit I was ever so slightly fascinated. She told me about some of the horses were used as part of the Horse Drawn Hearse service that was provided by Fred Gee from Berkhamsytch Carriages
As part of my research I was allowed to visit the farm with Jo and shown round by the lovely Lesley who has worked with Fred for many years. After taking lots of photos and being shown the carriages I went back to the studio to think about how the painting should look.
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!
After a few rough sketches I sent the preliminary sketches to Jo who then sent them on to Lesley from Berkhamsytch Carriages….the news that came back was devastating. Maverick had passed away suddenly and the whole yard was in bits!
Even Jo and I shed tears - Maverick was a stunning horse with a personality to boot and his partner, Big Fred was affected by his loss too.
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 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.
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!
‘Transition’ is now on display at Three Shires Funeral Service in Congleton.
For enquiries about commissions please contact me!