Tag Archives: gift

A New Kind of Commission

Most of my painting is driven by me, by what I want to paint. Usually when I am commissioned to paint for someone, it’s as a result of them having seen my work and wanting something similar.

Recently I was commissioned by a third party, to paint a sketch for someone’s birthday. We exchanged a few messages about a possible design, before I was asked ‘Could you paint a turtle?’ I’d no idea, having never done so before, so I offered to give it a go.

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The answer appears to be, ‘yes I can’. My client and the eventual recipient are both really happy with this work, as am I. It’s not a subject I would have chosen, and I am really pleased that on this occasion, I was asked to try something new and different. It was a useful reminder to be open to the possibilities. For those of you who may be interested, this is a sketch in acrylic paint on rough 300 gsm paper, laid on top of a simple watercolour wash.

 

 

The Art of Parties

I was recently invited to a friend’s party, and decided to paint an abstract piece of art for the host. I got in touch to find out her favourite colours, and after receiving the response, ‘purple and orange,’ I got to work. I decided to paint onto a 16 inch x 12 inch canvas, that’s a large surface as far as I’m concerned. Here’s phase one of the painting.

Phase One

Next I added some orange. Ouch! What an awful clash.

Phase Two

I stared to get a bit lost after this. First I applied a layer of translucent white to the main body of the canvas, to tone down the background. That didn’t work so I then applied a thick layer of purple over the orange and scraped off the excess to reveal hints of the colour beneath. I like the effect but the overall composition still isn’t working. It was the night of the party and I had to leave an incomplete painting to one side – there was no way I was giving this to anyone in it’s current form!

Phase Three

The party was good fun. I returned to my work and things deteriorated.

I was lost, and in a mess. I was just about ready to give up, then I decided to take the solid block of colour back to basics. Out came the titanium white.

Phase Six

The intensity disappeared – and then Keira offered a suggestion, ‘how about blue?’ How about it indeed. I loosely mixed up some blue and some translucent white, which I then dragged the mixture over the titanium white in short, blocky strokes.

Phase Seven Phase Seven Close Up

Finally! Several hours after I started – and with some valuable assistance, I got the painting somewhere I feel happy with. The recipient has seen a photograph and has approved, so it’s now signed and in the process of being delivered.

What have I learned? I tried too hard to work the two favourite colours into one piece – they weren’t getting along. I also learned that when using acrylic paint – you can salvage a disaster. Had I been making this in water colour – I expect I would have abandoned ship and settled on something else as a present long ago.

The Gift Must Always Move

Buy a book Read a book Pass the book on

July 2014, a small parcel arrived in the post. I opened it and inside was a book and a lovely hand written letter from my friend Callum Saunders. Callum has kindly agreed to let me share with you the words he wrote.

My dear Doug

On June 17th, you tweeted a photo of a card: ‘Buy a book. Read a book. Pass the book on.’ with the accompanying message, ‘Don’t let your learning end up on the shelf’. This struck a chord. I love reading and learning new things, yet this knowledge invariably ends up on my shelf.

I enclose a book I enjoyed that looks at the role of office work vs making things with your hands – it’s a truly eye-opening look at how we work in today’s day and age.

If you don’t fancy reading it, feel free to pass it on, loan it, give it away. But thank you for encouraging people and making me think about how I store knowledge.

With very best wishes – Callum

If you don’t already know him, I hope that by now you can get a sense of what a kind, thoughtful guy Callum is.

The book he sent me is called The Case for Working With Your Hands and a while ago it came to the top of my reading pile. Having read and enjoyed the book I’ve now passed it on to Richard Martin.

I’m currently enjoying a book written by Amanda Palmer titled The Art of Asking. Laurie Ruettimann recommended it in a recent blog post, and if you, like me, sometimes struggle to ask for what you need, I’d encourage you to get hold of a copy*. In the book, Amanda Palmer writes about gifts as being things to exchange, things to pass on, sometimes literally, as in the above book related example, and sometimes things to pay forward.

There is a phrase in The Art of Asking which is currently resonating with me: ‘The gift must always move’. I love this idea. I frequently wrestle with the question ‘How much is enough?’ and realise that some of the hardest choices we make are around what to keep and what to pass on, and move on from. Yesterday I was invited to respond to this question: ‘What is profitable?’ I wrote the following answer to myself: ‘Giving stuff away’. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that I have financial needs to meet and fun things I want to do which require the earning of, and exchange of cold, hard cash, and in addition I genuinely believe there is greater overall wealth created in passing stuff on, and in the exchange of gifts between us.

*If you would like my copy of The Art of Asking when I’m finished with it – get in touch. Ask and I will send it to you.