I like, where possible, to have some sort of continuity in my writings. Random is okay but can become somewhat disjointed, especially if one reads more than one piece of writing at a time. My last blog (was it really as far back as 24th October this year?) spoke about doing odd things or just being odd in general. So I wanted to follow on from ‘odd’ by picking up an odd thread of thought or decision I had made recently and expanding the topic into another subject. I do know what I want to write about, that being the recent event of having three days away from the Studio and spent in Tighnabruaich (Argyll), but how to connect my writing on the recent commission I have been given to being odd was perplexing me.
Odd. Yes, I can fit a certain amount of oddness into my remit for a commission of Tighnabruaich. Last weekend I made an odd or spur of the moment decision regarding the execution of the painting requested. A few weeks ago a couple came into my Studio to request a commission of a painting of a small Argyll village nestled on a Loch Fyne shore in the Kyles of Bute. Tighnabruiach was, and still is, a place that is precious to them. They provided me with a photograph of the place to work from. Not the best or most clear of photos but I promised to do the best I could, using the resources available to me. I couldn’t use memory because I had never been there. I did the preliminary work (compositional sketches, a small study, colour mixing for a palette to use etc.). The clients chose the format and materials, agreed the proposals, paid their deposit, signed the contract and left feeling happy. They have popped in since placing the commission and both are pleased with the progress to date. However, I came to a bit of a block a week or so ago. The basics have all been done but I just could not see enough detail from their photo to encourage me to complete the scene. Damn! I tried some internet research on the area, hoping to get a feel for the place. Didn’t work. I started to think outside of the box. I had not built any costs for research into the commission but I knew I had to do something to pull the project together. This is where ‘odd’ comes into it.
A spur of the moment decision had to be made. Justifications had to be self-proposed and self-sanctioned. It’s how I do things. When money is tight, as it often is when you are a self-employed artist, there has to be some good solid reasons to spend money. Time as well as finances are limited and stretched at present. Odd that I should suddenly decide to use up three days and £150 to satisfy the Muse’s demands. I chose to book a single room for two nights at the Tighnabruaich Hotel. Art materials and clothes packed, I set off in the car on Tuesday morning. I had convinced myself that this trip would pay for itself in that I could get at least one more painting from the area to cover my costs. Not the same composition of course as I have a policy, when I am paid a commission to do a particular scene, that I do not replicate the work. So I had to be prepared to stop at various scenic spots en-route and return to photograph or sketch scenes I could use in the Studio.
Photographs were taken all through the trip and I did a late afternoon walk on arrival along the water’s edge and through the village. Wednesday was spent finding the location the clients had taken their photograph from, taking my own shots, and then some ‘en-plein-air’ painting from the other side of the village (one for the Muse) until the tide came in far enough to make me pack up. Mid-afternoon I took the opportunity to have a good ‘reccy’ around the area on foot as well as by car. More photos, more expense, more time used up. But all to future advantage, or so I justified to myself.
I was so carried away by the beauty of the place and thoughts of new works I could achieve from all of the scenes discovered, that I had not taken note of how far I had gone in the car. I ended up getting back after dark, well after dark, and having traversed across a very narrow un-named road that cut across the desolate, big-dipper, countryside. Not to mention the odd (this time meaning occasional) sheep or deer walking or crossing the road in front of me.
Tired but a happy artist. A good night’s sleep (well, as good as I could in a rather ‘tired and need of refurbishment’ hotel bedroom. Then it was back on the road home with the same agenda for justification as before. More en-route stops for photographs. There were a few less stops this time as the weather had turned. We now had low cloud, grey and dismal, and the rain came down for most of the journey. I arrived home rather tired and worn out after my adventure. Pleased I made the decision to go and with thoughts of returning after winter has psssed. Then I slept like a log when I got into my own bed. Tomorrow is another day, one of practical doing rather than creative musings.
So now you know what an artist does to make a living. Rather odd occupation would you not agree?