Stages of a Commission

I was asked if I would produce a canvas painting – the inspiration was an Internet sourced photo:

I’m always a bit nervy and unsettled when I have to do something based on someone else’s photo and ‘specially when it’s quite a complex image, as is the case with this one. That said, I really love this image and the feelings it evokes. I’ve looked up at trees like these many times, so it is a special feeling to be able to try and recreate that scene on canvas. I chose to make this painting on a 80x60cm linen stretched canvas. First thing to do was prime it in a burnt gold colour, before painting the ‘sky’. (The gold colour serves two purposes – it stops ‘painter nerves’ 🙂 and also makes the blue ‘glow’, so it’s not so flat)

I added some texture while the blue paint was still wet (dabbing it with a kitchen towel, which I didn’t realise had ‘heart’ shaped motifs on it .. duh.) Once the blue was dry, I started painting the main shapes, using acrylics.

For me, this subject matter works better with soft pastels. However, you cannot apply pastels to a canvas surface without first giving it some form of coating, other wise the pastels will just drop off. I discovered that Golden make a ground specifically for this purpose, so I purchased a small tub. I have never used this Pastel Ground before and wasn’t sure if it would provide enough surface grip or ‘tooth’ for the pastels but I have to say that this stuff is amazing! It is best diluted and applied with a sponge or large brush (I used a brush). I applied about three coats in various directions. It dries almost clear, so I could see the underpainting quite clearly. Then I started applying pastels.

I was still a bit unsure about the pastel ground, not knowing how much pastel I could work into it but really I am so impressed! I could also work the pastels in with a brush, using water. I included watercolour brushpens, fine markers and pastel pencils to create more definition of the shapes. I’ve resisted the urge to draw or paint in millions of tiny branchlets, as that is not indicative of my style. Anyway, I am quite happy with it, this is the end result today:

‘Look up’ Mixed media, soft pastels on stretched canvas 80x60cm

My client is very pleased with it, so I will now give it a few more coats of fixative and possibly also apply some Winsor & Newton matt spray varnish, as a final protective layer. This was great fun to do!

Framed!

I found a local framer in Norwich who did a really great job with my large soft pastel painting of the Norway Fjord and it’s now on the wall:

I is quite chuffed

Norway, fjord – coursework – soft pastels – large!

At long last I’ve completed my fourth assignment for POP1 (Practise of Painting), I am now heading into the final stretch and the bit I’ve been most looking forward to, so whoopee doo for me hey!?

I decided to do a large (the brief was for something about 90x60cm) soft pastels landscape (that was also in the brief) and chose as my subject a scene from a trip I did to Norway a couple of years ago. This is how it ended up:

‘Norway, fjord’ soft pastels on 100cmx70cm Pastelmat

I ordered special paper from Clairefontaine in a sienna tint for this work and it’s really quite large. I have had quite a fight getting quotes to frame it that are below £200 – most of the framers I’ve spoken to want up to £300 to frame it, which is a bit much. Anyway, I’ve found someone in Norwich and hopefully going to take it there soon, it will still cost me over £100 to frame but I think will b e worth it. I will take a photo when it’s on the wall with furniture so you can get the idea of scale.