AMY ROBSON – Painter
‘Commissioned Painting within Commissioned Painting’
I was commissioned by two friends to paint a London interior as a gift for a mutual American friend. She was moving back to Charleston, South Carolina after over twenty years of living in the UK. The client had a much-loved and beautifully decorated home in south London so an oil painting of it was hopefully going to make a perfect memento of her time in London.
The brief as agreed with the original commissioners was to provide an interior oil painting of approximately 40/50 to 60 centimetres unframed. I discussed possible images with them, but was given the latitude to decide which one or ones to produce. I hoped to create several paintings from which the client could choose before her return visit in three months’ time.
Unfortunately at the time of the commission, the client and her family had already returned to the US so I was unable to work in situ. However there were quite a few professional photographs produced for the estate agent’s particulars. I chose an image of the drawing room because it had abundant natural light, beautiful ornate mirrors and a marble fireplace; not to mention lovely artwork, including a large captivating oil portrait of one of the children. However, it struck me as odd, given the attention to detail in the rest of the room, that the wall above the fireplace looked rather bare.
I enquired with the client who told me that she and her husband had commissioned a cityscape painting of Charleston by a favourite local artist, which was meant to hang above the fireplace. By the time the painting was completed they had already decided to move so there was no point in shipping it over only to send it back.
This ironic twist created a unique opportunity to personalise the interior painting to reflect not only the family’s time in London, but also to make reference to the place to which they were moving. Perhaps the cityscape was premonition of the move to come? The client was able to send me a photo of the cityscape, which I was then able to incorporate into the final work.
As I prefer to create several images from which a client can choose, I produced three very different paintings of the same room: a muted, sketchy one; a more detailed one; and colourful, impressionistic one. The client was able to choose her final painting on a return visit to London.
Though her head was turned by the bold colours of the impressionistic painting, she decided to go for the more detailed one, as she thought it would provide the most vivid memories over the years to come. The original commissioners were delighted with their unique gift and the client said that she will “treasure [her] wonderful picture forever.”