Another commission blog!
Every time I get a request for a huge new painting, I always tell myself this is the last one. They take me forever, and because I don't have anywhere to paint outside my own flat, large canvases can really get in the way.
So I gathered up some will power after my 3 canvas lighthouse project and said ‘No more!’.
However, it turns out I have a tendency to ignore my past self, and my latest commission would be no exception. The piece would become a huge landscape painting of a fantastic view in Porthcawl, Wales. Bad habits I guess.
Let's get stuck in!
The entire project started off by visiting the exact location in Wales, known as Rest Bay. The soon-to-be commission owner had bought one of the apartments inside 'The Rest', which is the building you can see in the final piece.
Some fun trivia for you - it's known as The Rest because Dr James Lewis, with the assistance of a certain Florence Nightingale, had it built for retired miners to go there and rest, while experiencing the fresh sea air.
So off we went, my girlfriend and I, to sunny Porthcawl. We stayed with family for a few days, and amongst other sightseeing, we took plenty of photos of the Rest Bay views.
I recommend the area to anyone. The beach is lovely to walk along, the sunsets are stunning, and James and Florence were correct, the sea air was top quality. 5 stars.
It really did help seeing the place in-person. Creating a composition can be so much easier when you're able to explore and find the best view points. You gain a better impression of colours too, not that it means a lot to Mr. Colourblind over here.
Eventually, the holiday had to come to an end, but that merely meant that the next stage of this project could begin.
Thankfully, unlike the previous large commission, I would only be painting on one canvas. This made the process so much easier from the perspective of a colourblind person! If you’ve read my previous blog post on the triptych commission, you’ll know that I find it incredibly hard to match colours well, and so I was forced to paint across canvases in one go, or face the ordeal of trying to get colours just right the next time around.
With this latest commission, it was less of a problem, because I was working across the entire canvas anyway. The width of the piece was much more manageable, and I was confident that I could finish a section in one pass.
The time frame of this painting is at sunset, the golden hour if you will. This allowed for more freedom with colours, as in the real world we often see unusual diffractions of light around sunset. It’s not uncommon to see more blues and oranges, even pinks.
This came in handy, as I was able to play around with the evening sky in the piece. The clouds, which cover a very large and prominent area of the canvas, need to be interesting and dynamic, otherwise the painting will be far less dramatic.
You may also notice the clouds follow the same direction towards the corners, as if blowing in the wind. I wanted to give the impression of movement and speed, so there are patches that are very wispy.
The reflections on the water were also a fun aspect of the painting to play around with. I wanted to capture that glittering effect on the surface, so needed to add in some very pale yellows inline with the sun. How we perceive light is pretty weird and wonderful, so replicating it on canvas is always an interesting challenge.
The general process for landscape artwork is to paint what is furthest back in real life first, and work your way closer and closer to the front. This often means you work from the top of the canvas down, painting the sky, then perhaps distant mountains, then layers of foreground. With closer foreground layers, you often include an increasing level of detail.
As I completed more of the commission, I reached the point where I needed to produce a replica of The Rest apartments. The building is quite an unusual shape, with distinctive beams positioned on the front. I wanted to accentuate the shape and make the beams more prominent. Not quite to scale, but I hope that my interpretation is just as recognisable, and doesn’t get lost amongst everything else on the canvas.
Eugh…too much grass to paint. So many individual blades of grass. Thin strands of green everywhere.
I sat there for hours building up layers upon layers of different shades, and at times it can be quite therapeutic. At others it can be a pain in the arse. I just like to make sure I’ve got a decent film or podcast on in the background while I work.
When the section of grass came together, it was very satisfying to step back and take it all in. The blades were painted as if blowing in the wind, which makes that piece of foreground so much more realistic. So for landscapes I recommend not just thinking about light direction, but also wind direction, for that extra bit of realism.
One of the final touches to this large commission was a set of silhouettes walking along the beach - two people and their two dogs. I thought this would be a cute addition to the piece, as the commission owners, who have an apartment in The Rest building, are a couple with two dogs.
I had to make sure the scaling and perspective were correct, and add in suitable shadows to finish it all off. This became a lovely little detail spotted by the owners when the painting was first unwrapped.
So another big commission is complete! It took a ridiculous amount of time because I had so many breaks. I was relieved to put down the paint brush and announce the piece was finished in the end.
I think the next painting will be much smaller, but then again you never know…
Joseph Cashmore - ART JC
25th Feb 2023
2nd Jan 2023
13th Dec 2022
20th Nov 2022