I get asked to work all over the country but, for this commission, I did not have to go far as it was in the village of Pilton, Somerset where I live.
The property looks as though it began as a modest farmhouse that over the years was enlarged depending on the requirements of the time. You can observe the changing tastes of subsequent owners in the details of each addition. The overall aspect feels organic and sympathetic to its environment.
The latest additions are, of course, the garage for vehicles and Summer house. These too fit into the whole very neatly.
Although the elongated subject looks lovely it presents its own set of challenges. The main one being that just painting the buildings along the lane might give a rather ‘stretched’ feel to the composition.
But this potential difficulty actually presented an opportunity. I decided to show the property framed within the Somerset landscape showing the fields beyond and the land in front.
The Initial drawing
Thankfully, the scene can be viewed from a small hill opposite, so I made my way up the hill with my sketch book to take in the whole scene below.
If you know my work at all you will know that I do not try to create a photographic reproduction of the scene. I take the Medieval and early modern approach that if something is important, then make it larger and more noticeable. If it is not important then reduce the size or simply leave it out completely. At this stage it is just pencil work to push a few ideas about.
The Initial watercolour ideas for the house and surroundings
First, to show more of the main house and the rather fine old greenhouse, I reduced the size of some of the trees and bushes. Next, I increased the scale of the shed and shepherds hut to give them a bit more prominence.
I was playing with ideas all the time while and went back and forth to the house to chat to the client and keep them up-to-date on my progress.
It is vital to incorporate the client’s thoughts at this early stage. It is important to add their memories into the final piece or it would simply be an architectural representation.
One example is the small iron arch at the bottom left. This arch was from their previous property and has sentimental value.
You can never guess what a person values the most about their home. In my experience it is never the most expensive feature. I moved a tree to accommodate the arch.
This checks and balances method was slowly refined as I worked through the drawing until it felt pleasing. Finally, I added a few sheep and cows – we are in Somerset after-all.
Once ‘the bones’ of an idea was completed, I brushed in a watercolour treatment. So much of the early work had been done by now, it just took a few touches to get going on the final piece and I was feeling confident about the direction I needed to take.
So, once we were all satisfied with the initial ideas, I moved onto the final painting.
The final Painting
Here I had the opportunity to really enjoy myself painting the structures and the Somerset countryside. I especially relished the slightly tortured shapes of the apple trees in the foreground. My last tasks were the cows and sheep.
Once complete, I was very happy with the result, and so was the client. It has also germinated a few ideas on other projects in the future. More to come on that…
A bit of history of Pilton Somerset
Though there has been a church on the current site since 725, Pilton is first is mentioned in The Doomsday book (commissioned by William I) and was later administered by the monks of Glastonbury Abbey a few miles up the road.
Their vast Tithe Barn still survives to this day. The Glastonbury monks however did not survive as Henry VIII got rid of the lot of them during the reformation in the 16th Century.
Many of the local houses are built from the local blue lias stone. This stone pops up out of the ground with every ploughing, so I suppose it was used as a necessity though its very tough stuff and we have structures in Pilton that have been there for well over 500 years.
The other notable thing about Pilton is that it is the home of The Glastonbury Festival where our modest parish of 900 swells to over 200,00 for a week or more in June. Not only incredible for music but incredible for takeaway food too!
If you are Interested in buying a painting or considering a commission of art or illustration then just mail me or give me a call.
Why not sign up?