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Mothers, brothers, and tears

I had visitors over the weekend.

Well, technically, they weren’t really coming to see me as such, as in a social visit to see how I was. They were actually coming to see themselves.

In paint.
David and Martyn came all the way from Bath to view the painting I’d done of them. They had made arrangements to stay in this area and brought along Martyn’s parents who are also depicted in the painting.

They arrived full of good cheer, and it was a delight to see them all and welcome them in to my new house. They admired the paintings hanging on the walls of my hallway, which I count as my mini gallery, and then looked askance at me. Where was it?

 I smiled, and led the way to my studio, opened the door and was hit by an overpowering smell of oil, turps, and paint. And said that I was pleased that the painting had now been hung and was residing upright on the wall rather than horizontal on my workdesk. And nodded towards it, although I didn’t really need to do that, since it was quite obvious where it was. “Oooh it’s big, bigger than I thought!” was the first comment, and they stood looking at it in silence. Then the comments started as they took it in turns to stand away from it, to view it better. They asked for the piece of wallpaper they’d sent me to view the painting against it, and could see that it would be fine against the heavy patterning. They were surprised at how deep the canvas was at 3 inches which is a bit deeper than usual, but it added to the dramatic aspect of it, and their room was easily big enough to take it,  and it added to the viewing experience in that where ever you stood or sat within the room the painting would be in 3D because of the deep edges.

I showed them the working drawings, and the preliminary sketches I’d done. And described the painting process of the acrylic underpainting, the thicker coats of acrylic to give the oils depth, and then the oils themselves, the the silver paint of the jagged wind applied with palette knife. As were the thicker parts of the paint to give it more texture.

They loved it. All of them.

But, the best bit, for me, was the fact it caused tears and upset. Instant tears on the first viewing. The tears of a mother as she sees her first born depicted in paint, her first born who although a man died too young, way too young. That’s something that no mother should have to experience and is tragic for any woman to have to contend with, and will probably never fully recover from. So, when she burst into tears at the first sight of it that was the best reaction there could have been for me. Because it meant I’d got it right, it meant I’d got the right feeling in the picture, it meant it was the right face, the right expression, the right depiction, and the tears were the best affirmation for me, to prove that. A mothers tears for her first born. And I’m sorry that it made her cry but pleased as well. Really pleased!

After that, the positive comments, the hugs of thanks, the smiles of wonder, the silence as they stared at it, and the words they spoke afterwards, added to the whole wonder of me making a painting for someone. A special painting, that means so very much to them, and always will because they designed it, picked the subject matter, colours, setting, that it would be in oils on a large block canvas, that it would have various family members in it, that it would be a happy painting celebrating their past, but looking towards the future too. They will spend many hours staring at the painting when it goes to hang on their wall, and will love it.

And I stood there, quietly pleased with myself that I’d done it for them, and that they had asked me to do it. But then, the mother said she knew I’d do a good job, and named the other paintings I’d done for the family in the past. Paintings that they still have on their walls, treasured paintings, bringing love and happy memories… I’d forgotten about some of them, since it was so long ago that I did some of them, but remembered them instantly when she named them of course, they are my creations, and well loved by me as much as them.

We had tea and biscuits after that, and sat chatting about many things, life, love, friendship, fun. And all of it was done with laughter, and an ease of jovial conversation when you know that everyone is on the same wavelength, and of a job well done. And they are convinced I will get more commissions through it, as various friends of theirs are intrigued to see it, and have heard so much about it. I hope so, that’s always my desire.

They didn’t take the painting with them, it stays with me a while longer whilst its still drying. So, I have the pleasure of it, before it goes to Bath to live. 

And maybe it’ll be the spark of a new idea, a new painting, not yet painted, but just a thought, in someones head….