Commissions

I am delighted to undertake commissions for individuals, groups or institutions. I have created work for weddings, presentations, significant birthdays and anniversaries, and produced series of work simply to enhance peoples homes. I have also painted and gilded devotional pieces.

Please note – I generally have a six month waiting list.

Here is an example of the process I go though when designing a private commission with a client.

Stage 1

Initial rough sketches looking at composition.

These sketches are not meant to be pretty! They are about shapes, placement of elements, generation of ideas.

Stage 2

Developing the client’s preferred designs. The piece was to include images of Lincoln Cathedral – I used a series of my own photographs to represent these. The yellow of the borders represented gold leaf. The pink marks around the main images suggested wedding flowers, although I had no idea what colour the floral arrangements would be at this stage.

We tried several Cathedral views until the client was happy with he appearance of the rough sketch. She opted for the circular, rather than the vertical design.

Stage 3

The client decided that she would prefer a silver coloured leaf rather than gold. The silver rings would represent the couples wedding bands which were made of palladium. She was otherwise happy with the design and I began work, applying gesso (pink in the picture below), made at home to a recipe recorded in the late 14th century.  It contains white lead, plaster, a fish glue, sugar and a red clay and takes a couple of hours to make (it must be completely smooth, with no lumps of powder, no air bubbles, no dust). This viscous liquid is applied with a paintbrush to the areas I want to gild.

The gesso is then allowed to set solid. It often dimples as the water evaporates, so the gesso then has to be shaped with a blade, ensuring the top surfaces are flat and even and all the sides have the same bevel. I burnish the whole thing with agate to check for imperfections, then it is ready for the metal leaf.

Breathing on the gesso makes it sticky (because of the sugar content) – just sticky enough to accept metal leaf. In this case I used palladium leaf. It’s trickier than gold, being more brittle, but is a lovely cool silver colour. The excess can be simply brushed away with a paintbrush.

When the palladium leaf is complete, painting begins.

Stage 4

Completing the painting in multiple, transparent layers of watercolour.

The Completed Commission

The design was finished with cream roses to represent those carried by bride and bridesmaids and text with names and dates.

Bride and groom were delighted!

 

If you feel you might like to commission me to produce an illuminated piece do get in touch by emailing toniwatts@live.co.uk for a preliminary chat about your ideas.

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