This weekend my latest commission (below) went to its forever home. It’s my third textured lavender field creation and the biggest lavender to date. 50 by 100cm.
The first lavender field (below) evolved a few years ago. A small work (only 9 by 12 inches) with lots and lots of layered palette knife textures. It is now beautifully framed in its happily-ever-after home in Surrey. The white floating frame complements the delicately textured surface.
"Mojo” (below) is the second lavender field that I created last year. Currently available from my flora collection and very much admired at last year’s Otley Coffee Culture pop-up market. Mojo was created using palette knives but my technique has evolved from the first one. I now use a greater variety of palette knives and quite a few more layers. Plus, there’s much more texture in the foliage.
My latest commission is for a new collector who had admired Mojo but wanted something bigger for her home. It is also a tribute to her mother who loved purple. I was very honoured to be entrusted with such a special commemoration piece.
Working at a larger scale, I felt it important to prioritise creating a sense of depth. For this reason, the sky and clouds are very gently blended. You’d be surprised quite how many layers there are in that sky. Even I’d forgotten (easily done when you lose yourself in the creative process) until I showed my new collector some timelapse clips of the process and realised that I had clip after clip of cloud painting. For clouds, I use a combination of finger painting and brushwork.
Creating depth in paint is not just about changes in scale. Things that are closer to the horizon tend to be greyer. It’s one of the most useful things I learnt in high school art classes. So, the most saturated part of the sky is towards the top of the painting. And the lavender in the distance has much less colour than the flowers in the foreground. The textures are also more subtle.
In comparison, the blooms in the foreground have layers and layers of glorious, salient palette knife textures. To create so many layers with this level of texture you do need to let them dry incrementally. Otherwise it’ll all get blobby and you’ll use the definition of the flowers. When I first thought the commission “done”, I moved it downstairs and hung it in my lounge. I find having my art in my living space an important part of the creative incubation. It’s the way I figure out what finishing touches are needed.
Artist forums often deliberate about how you know when a painting is done. And how you make sure you don’t overwork something. It’s really easy to overwork something that you’re up close to all the time in your studio. In contrast, I find, keeping my artwork where it can catch my eye when I’m walking past or watching telly gives me that insight into exactly what little details are needed to give a painting that final lift that brings it to life.
In this case, the final touches were about accentuating the sense of depth and contrast. These were the little additions of light and dark that made it “pop”. The textures also wrap around the sides of the canvas. So, these were also brought out a bit more (easier to do on the wall than on the easel).
Commissions are always different to other creations. You’re never sure if what you’re imagining is what your client is picturing. Paintings take on a life of their own. And, in this case, I knew that this one needed to do justice to the remarkable woman who loved purple. Emotionally, it’s a celebration of friendship and family. Technically, the layers are as much about depth of character as they are about pictorial depth. Delighted that my collected said “It’s exactly what I wanted!”
Thank you, Leeann for trusting me with this tribute.