At the beginning of May, just as I was trying to finish up the 'double' prints, a rather last-minute commission came in. As in years past, I was to illustrate the story which had won the latest Toulmin Prize literary contest.
The short deadline, coupled with the difficulty of tearing myself away from the prints I'd been working on, led to some white nights. The blurry photo above, with test proofs staring down at the blazing desk pretty much sums it up. Mornings at work that week were honestly rather miserable.
So I started drawing. The story told of an elderly man forced to move away from his rural home and his livelihood working the land there to pass his remaining days in a small-town council flat.
Somehow I convinced myself that a watercolour, no matter how detailed wouldn't take any time to complete. And so with a mind full of old still-lifes, I went to work portraying the man and his plants.
After the drawing stage, I started on the undertones of the painting. I must have been delirious with tiredness and thinking of printmaking as I worked building layer upon layer. I was clearly not painting with speed in mind when I drew in details and shaded them and then painted the tones in again before even starting to add the colours.
The bluish tones on the face and in some other areas of the painting in the photo above are masking liquid. This was how things looked just before the colours were added....
...... And here it is after!
And with the photo below the story ends with the painting becoming a (slightly green-tinged) magazine illustration.
Despite the anxious late nights, and my slow approach to making this, it was still very rewarding working on this illustration. Even if it was folly to put in so much detail when there was a tight deadline, I took pleasure in painting each leaf and petal. And the story certainly merited the effort!