Monday, 10 December 2012

Nuns can be a bit of a card at Christmastime

Early December sees the conclusion of my workshops and demonstrations for the year. Occasionally I do a Christmas' demo which often involves a painting containing lots of snow and other festive things.I look forward to these as mince pies and other nibbles are often produced by the group at half time. Merriment and chatting then goes on for so long that sweat pours down my santa hat as I rush to finish the painting in the remaining ten minutes! Sometimes full consternation is shown by the organising sectretary when I turn up with a photo set in the height of summer! After reassurances, the required snowscene is duly produced! This is also the time of year when I carry out my festive studio clean out. Drawers are tidied, artwork is filed and rammel removed. Long lost missing items are discovered behind the radiator.. Emptying my correspondence folder, I recently stumbled upon some instructions I had been given for a commission long long past. I had obviously kept it because it tickled me. Many years ago, I was regularly commissioned to produce Christmas cards for a publisher. Detailed instructions and photographs of how the end product should look would start arriving through the post from May onwards. Most paintings went off without a hitch, though it was sometimes difficult to visualise what lay beyond summer trees in full leaf as some of the photographs depicted.
As I said, this was many years ago, but I did keep one particular set of instructions which I will share with you verbatim;
“Add light snow, lights on inside church. Add people walking towards shrine entrance (to right of picture). Include three nuns. NB These are nuns based at xxxx Description; 2 tall and thin, 1 short (& more rounded) of Afro/carribean (sic) origin. Picture of this lady on bottom RT corner of sheet Enclosed from a video box, please therefore include outline impression of these three nuns with others walking towards shrine. Highlight the two stations of the cross (shown in picture with brick pillars and tiled roof). Add winter flowering colour – winter heathers? & shape of Lavender bushes – not in flower. Note : photo faces east so afternoon sun could be shown on picture.
Remove: crop foreground – bring shrine, gardens & peope (sic) a bit closer. Take out summer flowers & leaves from deciduous trees”
One of the least exciting places I painted as a snow scene was Hemel Hempstead high street, which I leave you with. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, especially from nun of the above.