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Royal Crescent at Bath – past present and future

When I was first asked by David and Martyn to paint a large picture for them, I was more than happy to accept. I would far rather do commissions than exhibition work, because then the client gets exactly what they want, and I tailor the painting to fit their needs. and I do this by listening to what the client wants. Sometimes its a short request, sometimes it’s a longer one.

The brief was to depict them both walking infront of the Royal Crescent at Bath, on a windy Autumnal day, their three dogs with them, and the parents of one of them off to one side accompanied with their dog, and the sisters and their husbands of the other standing some way back in the background. As well as that, there would be the brother of one of them and the mother of the other, both up in the clouds to show that they are no longer with us, but are close in heart, mind, and soul. The colours of the painting were to match the particular colour scheme of their sitting room, and preferably weren’t to have much green or blue in it, which made it somewhat interesting, as half of it is sky, and a good third of it is grass! As well as that they wanted the painting to be dramatic, and not be lost against the strongly patterned wallpaper of their lovely period house. It was to be in oils, and show movement as the wind picks up the leaves and blows them across the grass. And there were to be eyes in the trucks of the trees, showing happiness.
Ok, all of that is possible.
It helped greatly that they sent me a large selection of photos to work from – of themselves individually walking infront of the Royal Crescent at Bath, and of their dogs, and the other people in the painting. They also kindly sent me some pictures of the room where the painting is to hang, so that I could bear that in mind for the positioning of the colours and edges of the painting. Its on a block canvas which is 3 inches deep, so it will stand nicely against the patterned wallpaper and not be lost against it. I was to be working with browns, creams, plums, purples, reds, silver, white, and black.
So, I knew who I was painting. I knew the setting where I was painting them. I knew the palette of colours I was working to. I knew the size of the painting (31 x 47 inches) and that it would be in oils.
But, to start with I wasn’t sure how I was going to show the wind.
And then, it dawned on me. I would paint the wind as an entity all of its own. In silver, since that was one of the colours requested.  The wind would start high up on the right hand side of the painting, and swirl around and across the painting, swirling around the people in the foreground, depicting love from the beloved people in the sky, and movement of the wind as it swirled the leaves in the picture as well.
I started with a simple pencil drawing, and that went on to another pencil drawing which is the first picture I am showing here, and that is the image that was transferred onto the canvas and then I started the acrylic under painting of garish colours you can see in the second image, to give the oils a depth of colour. And only then I was able to start the  oils proper and that evolved eventually to the finished subtle painting as you see it here. Its had many hours of work put into it, and I am delighted with the result. There is a lot of texture in the paint, particularly in the silver of the jagged wind, and the oils have really lent themselves to the movement and texture of the grass and leaves and some of the clouds. If you click on each image you can see far more of the detail in the pictures. There are a lot of colours even with the limitations of the palette, and a feeling of distance through the aspects of the wind and clouds. I love the bright red of the shadows of the foreground around the main figures, and the curvature of the Royal Crescent. There is a large Wow factor about the painting, for me, and its certainly a conversation piece pulling loved ones together. And I absolutely adore the wind! It’s racing across the canvas, in a rush to be on its way.  The whole painting is a landscape, and a portrait, a surreal, spiritual, realistic, abstract painting that pulls a lot of my talents together to create something that is totally unique, and special for the people it is intended for.
The painting is entitled “David and Martyn at The Royal Crescent at Bath – past, present and future”. And the photo here really doesn’t do it justice, but whilst its drying and I can’t move it upright for a better photo, this is the best I can do. But when you’re standing infront of it, you can see the nuances of detail, the texture in the paint, the movement in the wind, the leaves as they whisk across the grass, the details in the faces of the people, and the animals, and the feel of the place depicted, and the Autumn day as the clouds scud across the sky.