Commission: Baku 2016

img_7362For the last two days, I’ve been working with my mum to complete her commission for a piece of artwork featuring the skyline of Baku, Azerbaijan. Mum knew what buildings she would like to include, and provided the primed canvas (roughly 90cm wide) and a sketch of the layout. The first step was to tweak the sketch a little to improve the flow around the picture.

That done, we settled on trying a bas relief technique since she had no preconceptions of a finished piece. Thus started a mammoth 5 hour session cutting, pasting and carving paper clay, finishing at 10:30pm at night in an effort to allow drying time overnight. Unfortunately, humidity prevented that and we had a morning’s hiatus as it dried in the sun. Uneven drying left some pieces lifting, so these were promptly glued back down with gesso.


Next was the decision as to whether to leave it white-on-white, or to add colour. Well, we went with the colour option, and much spraying with DecoArt Media Shimmer Misters in white and turquoise, with a tiniest spritz of DecoArt Media Mister in Primary Cyan. Add water to blend and water spot, dab off with kitchen towel and repeat. Drying brushing with gesso restored the contrast between the buildings and the background. Embellishment with Cosmic Shimmer Gilding Flakes, Stardust Stickles and DecoArt Media Gloss Varnish completed the picture. Then I decided a little more shimmer was needed on the sea, so added a wash of Perfect Pearls Perfect Pearl.


This piece raised all sorts of questions an artist has to deal with when completing a commission – even more daunting when the commissioner is in the room as well. Things like: personal preference – I would have darkened the top and bottom of the canvas a little more, but a light shade was requested. I don’t think I would have added the gold leafing, and added more sparkle instead. And all that would be moot as I think I preferred the white version! There’s also the guesswork of what the recipient would like – eventually we settled on working to our own choices, not assumptions we couldn’t confirm. And most of all – when working with another artist, ensure that, as far as feasibly possible, you both understand the materials, techniques and rough idea of the final outcome – it makes for a much smoother creative process!