It is a long time since my last blog post due to an exceptionally busy summer. I planned to have a leisurely one but 2 large commissions put paid to that. I can’t really complain and certainly would not get any sympathy if I did! I can’t reveal one of them as the client hasn’t seen it yet but I can show you the larger one.
The biggest ever at 36 x 26 inches, a large area of the piece is silk painting and it was to be presented over a stretcher frame like a box canvas (not stretched in my usual manner and mounted and framed under glass. A first for me.
Before I could start I needed to buy a frame big enough to stretch the silk on and a size 30 paintbrush (as the largest I normally use is an 8). The image I had to work from was taken on a phone and when printed at A4 was pixelated but I had enough to go on. My client and I had lots of discussions about content and composition and then I was ready to start.
The image is a view over Hampstead Heath featuring a row of distinctive winter trees, a family group with their dog and a pushchair, all telling a story of a typical day on the Heath.
The silk painting proved to be even trickier than I anticipated and took me several attempts to get the sky just how I wanted it. I did achieve a painted sky I was pleased with but it wasn’t close enough to the brief so I started yet again! All the silk painting advice I give to my students was going through my mind and I thought how much better they would feel if they could witness my failures! I did succeed in the end ( it wasn’t going to beat me) and then I moved onto the embroidery stage.
With a beautiful soft light glowing through the trees I used a loose bobbin thread to create the blue greys and muted purples and browns amongst the branches. I worked across the image moving the hoop several times, emphasising the variations in each tree, carefully stitching the bench, figures and dog until eventually I got across to the other side!
Once it was finished stretching the piece was tricky too, as any new technique can be. I wrestled with a staple gun and a large frame for a day or 2 and finally had a flat, taut, square finished piece. I suggested to my client a floating frame was a necessity to protect the edges of the bare silk and sent this photograph to illustrate the idea. A £1 coin shows the scale.
Once framed I delivered it to London and had the pleasure of hanging it on the wall in its designated space!
It was a challenge, all commissions are a step out of the comfort zone because the clients wishes are always in the forefront of my mind and I don’t have the same freedom as when I create for myself. This one was a whole lot of firsts! The reward is a happy client.