Back in September last year I got myself into the challenge of my painting life by a complete fluke. To get out of my office and stretch my legs, I often walk up Granville Street and visit several of the art galleries within easy reach over my lunch break. I was in one of those galleries when I overheard a Chinese man, struggling with his English, asking the staff about a particular painting. It sounded like he wanted something similar but needed it to be bigger. The gallery staff seemed unable or unwilling to accommodate him other than offering to get in touch with him should they come across a similar, but larger, painting.
The subject matter and composition of the painting he was interested in were very similar to my “Pacific High” painting, and my painting, at 32 x 48”, was bigger. I can’t believe I did this, but I waited outside the gallery for this man and his bodyguard, and then chased them down the street. Explaining that I had heard him in the gallery and that I had a painting that might suit his interest, I was able to convince him to take my business card with the hope that he would check out my website. I had low expectations of ever hearing from him, but four hours later a young lady called, identified herself as the daughter of the man I had spoken to on Granville Street, and said they wanted to talk.
The story was that this family lived in a very exclusive part of town, and had just bought a new home in another very exclusive area. They loved the view from their old home so much they wanted to hang a painting of it over the fireplace of the new home, and what Jasper was actually looking for in that gallery was an artist who could paint that scene for him. I met him in the new home to understand where the painting was to be hung, and to measure the space on the wall, then went to his then current home to see the view. On a gray and hazy day, it wasn’t much of a view for a painting – looking across the river (mostly concealed behind trees), out over the Vancouver airport runways, with some of the Gulf Islands off in the far distance. I immediately recognized the challenge of turning this scene into an appealing painting. This was going to be tough. To complicate matters, Jasper wanted the airport control tower on the far left, and the radar dome on the far right to be included in the painting. He also wanted a glimpse of the golf course below which was actually not visible from his house because of the trees, and he wanted three specific airliners on the tarmac as well as an Air Canada jet taking off in the sky. We eventually agreed on a size (30 x 85 inches – the largest piece I have ever done) and a price. He wanted it done within two weeks but I told him two months, and in the end it took me 10 weeks to complete. I was able to show more of the river than was actually visible (culturally important to Jasper), eliminated some trees to show a good chunk of the golf course, turned the scene into a bright, sunny day, and exaggerated the size of the distant Gulf Islands for more visual impact. This was very much an exercise in making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Even before I got started, Jasper decided he wanted a second painting – this one to be of the front of his Tudor mansion. Working with his interior designer, we eventually agreed this one would measure 36 x 66 inches. However, in this painting he wanted not only the front of the house, but also the swimming pool in the back yard, the tennis court in the front yard, some of the landscaping, his four children, AND his Bentley, Range Rover, and Audi (all black) on the driveway with their license numbers showing! At first, I honestly felt this would be impossible and that I would have to leave out something, but by eliminating only the garage building at the front of the house, and through liberal exercise of artistic license with perspective and placement, I was able to put it all together in a way that was recognizable as his home, while not exactly true to life. I actually doubt Jasper will be able to recognize the distortions and inaccuracies when he sees the painting.
This week I finally delivered the finished second painting and I feel like I’ve come out of a 6-month hibernation. What a relief knowing I don’t have to spend my entire weekend at the easel as has been the case for almost the entire past 6 months. I’m going to do some gardening and other chores before tackling another painting, but I’ve accepted an invitation to do a solo show in 2018, so my break from the studio can’t be long.