Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hill Head Farm near Edlingham

In June I was commissioned to paint a view of Cheviot from Corby Crags- but including Hill Head Farm near Edlingham. This was to be a very special retirement present for the owner of the farm, who was retiring in July after years of being a very popular school secretary.

It's a massive, iconic view and there were a number of logistical problems about capturing a view at the right time of year to show the farmhouse, which is obscured by foliage on the trees in the garden during spring and summer. It was a difficult painting to create- not least because of the scale and complexity of the landscape, but also because it was commissioned and paid for by a committee- all of whom wanted the very best for the recipient, but had sightly differing views of exactly what that might be.

I was delighted with the final painting and believe it to be one of the best paintings I've ever done. But was it what the recipient wanted? I'm perfectly well aware that a painting spends a lifetime with its owners, whereas it's only with me for a short time. So while I need to feel I've created something I'm proud of, it really needs to speak directly and clearly to the owner.

Today the very happy recipient has been into the gallery to thank me and tell me just how much she loves it too. We both stood with tears in our eyes and agreed what a magnificent view it is... and yes....what a great painting!! 

It's made my day, my week, my month.... and possibly my year.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Life's Little Lessons....

Crown Studio Gallery before the new facelift! 

The sudden reappearance of summery weather made me decide to tackle re painting Crown Studio Gallery's shop front myself rather than having to wait for an available local painter and decorator. Since we bought the property in 2006 it's been painted twice by professionals and while it looked excellent on each occasion, it didn't last as long as I'd hoped.
This time, doing the prep work myself alerted me to a couple of interesting things- and has taught me several important lessons-
1) The "mortar" between the stonework below the window turned out not to be mortar at all, but injected silicon- so all of that had to be pulled out like giant strings of chewing gum and the whole lot re-pointed by a builder.
2) While the mortar was given chance to thoroughly dry, I accumulated the rest of the materials for the job. Who knew that gloss paint specifically formulated for stonework and masonry existed? Certainly not the woman in B&Qs Paint Department, who looked at me as if I was delusional when I asked her where I'd find it!! "You must have seen shopfronts that are painted?" I remarked- but apparently not. So I had to buy this online as it's a specialist product.
3) I prepped most of the wood work ready for painting yesterday, washing and sanding it, but this morning I noticed that the tiny brown spots I'd removed from the sill yesterday- and seem to wash away on a daily basis- had returned. So I concluded that they must be the "droppings" of an insect living at the top of the window frame. Turning my gaze upwards I noticed a crack in paintwork, so concluded that the offending bug must live in there. Up my ladder I went with my awl in hand and discovered that there was a long bubble of paint the full length of the shop front. So I had to remove all of that and fill the gap to avoid more wildlife taking up residence there.
The defecating critter turned out to be a spider.
Now, I can remember being asked by our eldest when she was about two years old, "What does spider poo look like Mummy?" At the time I had no real answer, but now I can tell her with some authority... it's pretty much like from fly poo!!!
The silicon filler all removed.

Mortar replaced.