Tuesday 15 January 2013

A boar or two.

I think it's finally time to put these paintings up here. It's a funny old business, painting commissions for people. I know I am just the last in a long line of artists who have discussed this issue - many of them far more eloquently than me. But here's the thing. I'm usually pretty careful to be objective about commissions, and thought I was pretty hard and professional about the whole thing. A customer asks for a painting, you discuss it at length, I do a few quick roughs, and if it's going in the right general direction, I push on. If it's not, well, it's no big deal, you listen closely and head in a different direction. However, last summer, I got caught out pretty badly and it's taken me a long while to feel like I'm ready to expose myself again.
I was asked to do a painting for a friend. A good friend. We talked about it at length, and then after a couple of months of pondering, I did some serious meditation, and really channelled the muse. I was so thrilled with what I had come up with - I thought it was perfect! I did some roughs, and spent hours working on the complicated border design which I thought represented my friend absolutely. And here is where it went wrong. Usually at this point, I have a very humble approach. I may have spent considerable time thinking, and working on roughs, but I haven't put any of my soul into it. I'm pretty noncomittal at this stage, and quite prepared for rejection. This time I was cocky and arrogant and exceedingly pleased with myself. I skipped around the house singing 'this is the best thing I have ever done' to my family. I rang my sister and told her how perfect and amazing  my picture would be. I emailed my friend and told him this was going to be awesome, and what did he think of the roughs?

It wasn't what he wanted. 

I was absolutely floored by this, shockingly so. I was so unprepared for it, that it completely shook me emotionally and creatively for a long time, and it took me a couple of months to pick myself up again from it. I couldn't distance myself from this, and move on with a new painting, and at last I decided to go ahead and paint the original painting anyway, for myself, because it needed to get out, and I didn't think I could do a new one until I had 'exorcised ' the first. Once done, I put it away quietly. Eventually, I picked up my pencil and did new roughs, and a new painting. This one was right, and my friend was thrilled. And here is the lesson. It was not in any way the fault or problem of my friend, whom I love dearly. It was me.
I put MY heart and soul into his painting, when I should have put HIS  soul into it.
I'm pleased with the eventual painting, but it doesn't have much of my soul in it. 
And I guess that's right. You would think, this far down the line, that I would have learnt this by now. I thought I had, but I'm going to keep the other painting, just to remind me of this! It's such an old lesson - pride comes before a fall, or, Never be cocky until the roughs have been approved!

Anyway, I've got rid of the emotional baggage attached to this, and can laugh about it now, so I'm curious to know which of these two paintings you like best? (I honestly wont mind which you choose!)

So, after the emotional stuff, here is something to make you laugh. In an attempt to beat the never ending rain, I made a comedy Sou'wester style cover for my riding hat. So far my children have refused point blank to ride out with me if I wear it. It keeps the rain off though ;-)

The girls went on a Christmas ride, stopping for hot chocolate and mince pies half way. Captain enjoyed the mince pies as much as they did!
I have spent the beggining of the year dealing with the aftermath of the babies new found hobby. It's called 'breaking in and breaking out'.They have broken into the feed shed, discovered how to undo bolts and latches, and how to push fence posts over so they can go exploring the woods. They have caused a large amount of damage in the last few weeks, and yet miraculously have escaped unscathed. The only thing I can say in their favour is that they do both come when called. Earlier this week when I discovered them missing, and the fence and gate to the woods looked as if a bulldozer had driven over them, I called for 5 minutes. They came thundering down from somewhere deep in the wood, over the wall and through the thick undergrowth, inordinately pleased with themselves.
Perry looks like butter wouldn't melt , doesn't he? Don't be fooled.
The children have now been back at school for a week, and I have been able to get back into my studio. I began with a landscape to remind me of summer in the dark depths of winter.
Then it was back to 'The Woods Maiden and her King'.
I've been tucking birds away in the ivy. Chaffinch and wren, blackbird and blue tit.

Honey bee, and nuthatch.
And done. I think.


Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

What an inspiring postful of paintings! They are all wonderful and I especially love the sunlit landscape...
I find commissions can be intimidating and it is hard not to be emotionally entangled in creating any image, art comes from that place afterall. I think you've done a great job with both versions and I really like both, though I must say the lovely border work does very much appeal to me :)
I always enjoy and look forward to seeing the paintings you've been working on... about time I unearthed my own brushes!
Good luck with the adventuresome ponies!

MEME said...


Kath said...

That last work is amazing! I love the tiny birds.
As for the boars? the first one has an almost art deco feel to it but I prefer the second one, it's more your distinctive style, which I admire.

Lovely pics of the ponies, I was reminded how I used to go out riding on Christmas day and people would come out of their houses to give us mince pies!

De la Renaissance said...

Commissions can be touchy...one commission that got a bit off track put me off of my art for nearly 10 years...So glad yours ended well!

Personally, between the two boar paintings, I would choose the first, though both are wonderful!

Danielle, love your pony posts...and that last painting is gorgeous!

Virginia said...

Hi Danielle,

I find both intriguing, but the second is the one I could live with more easily. And I fall - hook, line and sinker - for Captain every time you include him in a blog. He has such a gentle and intelligent eye. It's all very well for the kids not to mind wet down the back of the neck, but I'm with you - give me comfort over fashion every time!!

Lovely to have you back blogging.

Elderberry-Rob said...

I like the first, it's very intricate and keeps you there a while, I like the second too but that doesn't hold my attention so long. I always like your work and I hope you won't mind me saying, but I think it's the bit of your own personality and soul in your paintings that makes them really shine. Betty

Madeleine said...

Both would look very good on my walls. The boar in the lower one looks mischievous and endearing and a softer character while the top boar looks bold and individual. Yes, that's it; the first boar is an independent soul and the second boar looks a little bit 'needy.'

Dianne said...

I haven't been here in ages, been ill, I have missed all your beautiful art work and the lovely children with the gorgeous horses. I like the first pic you drew best myself. I love your hat perfect for the rain, kids they don't like anything we grownups do LOL.. Your other drawings are fantastic as always.

Freyalyn said...

Interesting little commentary you've done here. And some lovely paintings. I don't have a favourite boar; I like them both.

Karen said...

I love the first painting, it's more whimsical, magical, with a lot of little things happening. I LIKE the second painting, still looks like your style

Em Parkinson said...

My immediate reaction was that I preferred the second one but, having looked at them more closely, I've changed my mind. I love the graphic stuff at the bottom of the first and I think the composition is more to my taste. Would have preferred it square but then that's my OCD side taking over!

Gabriel S. Ignácio said...

Oh, dear!
Your blog is really awsome!!!
I liked it a lot...
It's so beatiful, clean and peaceful...
I love the ponys!!!! hehehee
I'll follow your publications!
Hugs and rockets,

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou everyone :)
Painting today was scuppered by the snow - I had to spend the day trudging through it to feed ponies!

Danielle Barlow said...

PS. Em - it's only the angle of the photo that makes the first painting look wonky! In reality the lines are perfectly parallel ;-)

Tammie Lee said...

wonderful to see all the details of these paintings. It is much easier to sell a painting that is already made. But how wonderful that you love the first piece and that you made a piece that thrilled your friend. Perfect in the end.

fun to see you with your hat for weather and protection.

sending a warm smile.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

What a wonderful post! Reminds me of some of my commission experiences :( One was so bad I quit art for 5 years.

I like the painting at the top of the post the best although the second one is lovely too.

We no longer ride on Christmas day, but we do a carriage ride on Christmas eve if the weather permits. great photo of the kids together on their ponies.

The lady and her lord is a wonderful painting! What detail!

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

For me it is a difficult call to pick which painting I prefer. The first boar seems a more whimsical, attractive character, and I do like the border. The second painting is also lovely, and I like the crows in both. :)
I also love the illustrations following and your story of the baby horses.
I love visiting, and getting a glimspe of your wonderful world.

gtyyup said...

It's been too long since I've visited. So love your painting. Which one? I like the second most, but I do like the first also! The details in both are so much fun to find...very much like the painting of yours that I have...the eye can keep looking and finding something new!

The kids and ponies look lovely as usual. Happy New Year to you~

Stacey said...

I was just introduced to your art by my beautiful friend Tammie Lee. I just adore your work, and am enjoying leafing through your website. Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world around you! I look forward to having one of your pieces hanging on my wall some day!

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Both are fantastic in my view... and to Gail.. that is just wrong for you to have stopped your art for 5 years !!!!!


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