17 Sept 2018

Commission Accomplished

In the spirit of my last post, I thought I'd do a bit more documenting of my process - how I get from ideas to finished work - and how I feel at the end of the experience.

Readers of my blog will know, I've been working on my own artwork for my collections, but I also take on personal commissions as well.  For example, here's a commission from a few months ago.  I tend to start with meaningless scribblings the size of a postage stamp and gradually work my way up in various stages to an A3 finished drawing, thus:

Stage 1 - thumbnail sketch
Stage 2 - pencils

Stage 3 - digital colour
Stage 4 - final product

 Bristol commission

My latest lampshade project has been from someone who wanted a particular favourite view of Bristol, from the top of Christmas Steps.  My first thoughts were, that's going to be great - a panoramic landscape is my favourite.  But how would I get on with a cityscape?

Another layer of complexity was added on here as the source material I was given was a old sepia-toned photograph of the town.  Looks like I was going to be creating a historic view.  So what I drawing wasn't even there any more!

On the one hand it presented a challenge, but on the other hand I was pleased to be portraying a historical scene.  I love to work on things which are a little bit different.  The towering chimneys and crystalline spires of churches rising up through the smog was the pervading sense I got from all the images of that time - most important to me was to get the feeling right.

First of all I had to identify the view - as much of it as possible to fit round a lampshade - and do a bit of a field trip.  A quick march up the hill in my lunch-break and I had some pictures to go on.

Drawing time... I am all about the detail, so I'm always trying to restrain my lines and use little visual shortcuts, a trick I've learned from a lifetime of super-quick sketching and poring over my favourite landscape painters.  It's not easy but I try! 
First sketches

In the end I couldn't decide between on and the other, and so I decided to make both colourways, and have a day and nighttime scene.

And finally I get to actually make the lampshades themselves.  Cue clearing my box room studio and an afternoon carefully cutting and rolling fabric.  Sometimes I wonder why I put in so much time to my artwork, while juggling a day job as well. But then I think about everything that I gain from each new project.  It's not just about drawing; I'm also learning a whole new craft too, as well as design, and with each new commission or collection I work on I'm able to discover something new.  With this one, I got to look research the city and see it in a whole new light (no pun intended).  And they were kind enough let me add this one to my shop, for any fellow fans of this Bristol view to enjoy as well.

The finished article

It sounds odd but have you ever performed on a stage before?  The whole experience, before and after, you're totally focused on the task at hand and it is pretty stressful - but the minute you step behind the curtain you immediately want to go back out and do it all over again.  Well that's the case with nearly everything I make - I am pleased with the end product but straightway it has given me ideas for my next project!  I would love to create another historic view of Bristol, but with a whole raft of famous landmarks, which one am I going to go for?

I'm opening this one out for suggestions...

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