Commissions…a brief how and why.
I am in discussion with a client about a potential commission and promised to send him some information about a couple of commissions where I had been asked to include specific figures in specific settings. It then struck me that other people may be interested in the background to these paintings…here’s the first one.
Landscape featuring the limestone pavement at Malham Cove and two people in the middle distance. Blue skies with slight cloud.
The lines of the limestone pavement are intended to lead the viewer’s attention to the couple in the middle ground. The clouds disappear behind the hills above the figures and again are intended to lead one’s gaze towards the couple. The dry-stone walls to the right of the composition also lead attention towards the couple. Indeed the whole composition including the strong tonal contrasts in the cliff are all strategies to focus the viewer’s contemplation on the two people in the painting.
The two figures are almost seen as one. This is intentional and represents the joining together of two different people into one union. As this is a wedding present from the groom to the bride it seems appropriate to try to signify the union in the painting. The groom provided me with a number of photographs of himself with his fiancé. In one photograph they lean in towards each other and I wanted to use this within the painting.
The strong intensity of colours in the grass where the couple are placed is also intended to attract the viewer’s attention to that part of the composition. In short I have tried to use linear, tonal, colour and psychological prompts to focus attention on the figures of the engaged couple.
Here is the second commission where specific figures and a specific setting were desired.
“Shade Of The Sycamore”
Landscape featuring the gardens of Smithills Hall. The pink stone of Smithills Chapel can be seen on the right and part of the black and white structure of the Hall can just be seen to the right of the sycamore tree that dominates the painting. Two figures and a dog are in the shade of a sycamore tree whose leaves create a dappled light in the strong late Spring sunshine. A male figure is seated on a bench under the tree, a female figure (his sister) stands to look towards the male figure and her little dog. The three figures (brother, sister and the the pet dog) are arranged so that they are all looking inwards towards each other forming a triangle (if seen from above). I favoured using triangular structures throughout the composition. The top of the trees in the middle ground on the left is aligned with shadowed bank at the right of the base on the sycamore tree in the foreground. The roofline of Smithills Chapel is aligned with the shadow on the left of the sycamore tree. I chose to use triangles as the triangle is a strong geometric shape.