A few months back I had an enquiry from someone who wanted to commision a painting of Sennen, Cornwall. The client wanted a special present for her relatives. They had spent many happy years on holiday in Sennen and wanted a remainder in their home.
Finding the right photograph
I have various paintings of Sennen available to buy but she wanted one that included the Lifeguard Hut. The Lifeguard Hut although in a raised position over the vast beach, sits almost hidden amongst the dunes. She had already purchased the frame so I had dimensions to work to.
The only problem was she didn’t have a photo of the actual scene. I love Sennen and have loads of photographs but Whitesands Bay is so wide that the scene can be mostly sky! Here are some of the images I could use
Whilst I loved the first photograph above, I felt there angle wasn’t right because the dunes were too prominent. The second photograph, although covering the whole bay, was a little dark. I really liked the third photograph and decided I could use that. The turquoise colour of the sea was looking splendid in the fourth photograph but it didn’t include the hut! I did have another photograph of the same scene that did include the lifeguard hut but not the whole bay. Clearly I needed to combine them in photoshop to create the right scene.
I find it quite stressful accepting an enquity to commission a painting. To take the pressure off myself I always paint more than one. This way the customer has a choice and, in fact, can say no. I really don’t want anyone to be under any obligation to buy one of my paintings.
The process always starts with an small, initial painting, just so I can get the flow of how to paint it and also choosing the right colours.
Whilst the proportions of my first attempt look a bit distorted, I liked the scene, with the vast sweep of the bay and the lifeguard hut. I was reasonably happy with my initial paintings.
Full scale painting
It was time now for me to be brave. I decided that whilst I preferred the second version of my initial painting above, the rocks didn’t look right. However I had my reference material for my commission.
The first painting turned out to be successful. I felt I had captured the sea and its different shades of blue as the surf rolls on to the beach. You may notice that I decided not to add any people! My second painting wasn’t as successful. In my reference photo there was a lot of seaweed, showing as dark blue, but it didn’t look right in the painting. I tried adjusting it to make it less obvious.
Photoshop was used to demonstrate how the painting could look inside her frame. I uploaded it to Etsy and she loved it! More importantly, so did her recipients. She sent me this message.
Thank you I took the picture to my aunt and uncle over the weekend they were so pleased, tears of joy, it was very moving.Natalie
At the time of writing this blog post, the other painting of Whitesands Bay, Sennen is available to purchase.
They loved the painting so much that they commissioned another painting of Sennen to send to their son who lives overseas. As the son was a keen surfer they asked for the lifeguard hut to reflect its historical colours and to be “more brown”.
It is interesting how different a painting can look, even from the same photograph. This painting looks more like an autumnal/winter scene, the sea is less turquoise.