SIMONE DAWOOD - PAINTER
'The Uffington White Horse Commission'
"Simone’s work has a wonderful way of portraying a sense of place in just a few strokes. We instantly recognised The Ridgeway near Wayland’s Smithy as a place we had recently walked along. We liked the painting so much we commissioned Simone to paint a picture of the Uffington White Horse. She enthusiastically took on the challenge and we are thrilled with the result. She has captured the essence of the landscape in a wonderful way and it was a joy working with her on the piece." ...The Client
Having seen some of my work during the Open Studios showcase in Marlborough last summer, a charming couple came to visit my studio during the 2014 art season. After a good chat about our shared interest in the ridgeway landscape and some enjoyable indecision about which painting to pick, they bought 'Early Morning near Wayland’s Smithy #1'.
They asked if I would perhaps be interested in a commission and we agreed to wait until after Open Studios had finished to give them sometime to consider what they might like. Being keen walkers who live quite close to the Uffington White Horse, they were interested in exploring the idea of a complimentary painting that might work as a ‘continuation’of the landscape that would hang alongside the Wayland’s Smithy work.
We set up a meeting for a couple of weeks later. I was delighted and amused when they turned up with a ‘cut and pasted’A4 bit of paper with bits of my paintings stuck on with a rather charming tippexed White Horse in the middle of it! Despite the comedy of the moment, it actually made sense as it gave them a visual prompt from which they could explain what they had in mind.
This was my first commission, so it was imperative that we each understood the process and were clear about the objective. They knew my style and were clear that they would not get a ‘literal’image of the horse in the landscape.
I needed to ensure that the horizon would match up with the existing painting; although they were not being hung directly side by side they were to be close enough to mean that continuity was vital.
They outlined the elements that they wanted included in the painting e.g. the dry Coombe known as The Manger, the sparse horizon and the tree line nestling at the bottom of the Hill. With the help of a couple of OS Maps we agreed the POV that roughly the painting would take. We discussed how these elements could be represented allowing for my own interpretation of the subject.
I visited the site and took photographs, then back in the Studio sketched out a few ideas. A final sketch was sent to the Client for approval and I started the painting.
Working from my drawing I started with a rough watercolour which helped me to visualise the broad colour palette to work from. I then measured up my linen and made up the canvas ready for the oil painting proper. I tend to mix my principle colours (mainly greens in this case) in advance making a note of the mixes so I can return to them later in the process with exactly the right colour balance. I start with an under painting, then layer over with thicker and fatter paints to give texture and depth to the final linen surface.
It took me approximately 20 hours to finish the painting over a 6 week period plus time to recce, research and make up my canvas. Images were sent to the Client as I neared completion and everyone seemed happy. We kept in touch and after a small alteration to the horse itself the project was complete and the painting was sent to the framer.
An interesting and rewarding process; I learnt a great deal over those weeks and have since taken on 2 more commissions with another pending.
A challenge certainly, but it seems that if both sides are very clear about what they expect and agree a realistic timeline then there should be no surprises (other than good ones). It is a process that requires a great deal of trust on both sides and good communication is essential. In the end it is an original piece of work and the artist must be able to work freely expressing their creativity and vision, crucially knowing that the client has broadly the same vision.
I very much look forward to the next one.