‘Grandfather’s House’ – a Commission

I want to tell you about what I learned from doing a commission last week.

A friend of mine from the other side of the world, asked me if I would paint her a landscape, that lovingly reminded her of her visits to her grandfather’s house. She remembered where the willow tree stood, what the house looked like and where to place the lilac bush and the corn field. But she didn’t have a photograph of the place to help me. So I had to listen carefully to her description of the place and take it from there.

After many sketches, when I had penned in the final sketch with black ink, I started getting nervous. Is the layout okay? What colours would make this lady feel good and help her remember a place where she was happy? I am a lover of dark colours myself, as you might know, and this commission was way out of my comfort zone. But since I like and need a challenge, I took a bold step and grabbed my yellows, reds and greens. An image emerged on my paper, that I could not fully relate to, but checking the wishes of my friend, I did seem to be doing the right thing. But it was very hard for me to form an solid opinion of my own work. That felt weird! I had to ask mutual friends for theirs to see if I was on the right path. Thankfully they said I was.

‘Grandfather’s House’, ink on paper, A3, painted in commission

When I finished the painting, it took me a while before I had gathered enough courage to send a photograph of the artwork to my friend in question. I was afraid she would be too sweet not to tell me she thought it was crap and that it had nothing to do with her memories at all. But she loved it. She didn’t want me to change anything. So why couldn’t I feel as secure about my work as I normally feel?

Then it dawned on me that a commission is a completely different way of working from creating and image from my own mind. This time I had to try and translate another person’s feelings and memories into an artwork, not my own! So no wonder I didn’t have the same strong connection to the image as I would have had to my own work. Not something to judge! The fact that I was able to depict a loving memory of a friend, was a great experience. Very new and different, but lovely in its own way. So I learned to have different expectations on how commissions make me feel and how my own work makes me feel. It is a natural thing. Not something to get nervous about. I have learned from this and I am so glad I did this commission!

Eva Mout, Ursus Art

11 thoughts on “‘Grandfather’s House’ – a Commission

  1. Lovely story! And your words and image brought back memories for me, as well. I lived with my grandfather as I was growing up. Our home was nothing like your illustration, but that’s beside the point. You made me smile as I thought about my grandfather, our home, and the way we lived.

    Bedankt voor de herinneringen, en dank je ook voor de kans om mijn Nederlands te oefenen!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. One thing that is really helping me with Dutch… elke avond als ik ga slapen, luister ik naar een meditatie in het Nederlands. (YouTube is awesome!) The speaker spreekt meestal langzaam. Ik begrip het meeste van wat ik hoor. Ik denk dat het me veel helpt met “word order”. I’m able to pick up a lot of nieuwe woorden too. Iedere avond ik leer nog meer. 🙂 Please feel free to correct any mistakes I make or to make any suggestions for being more “Dutchie”. LOL Bedankt!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dat zal ik doen! Ik wil dat ook graag van mijn Duitse en Turkse vrienden. Dan leer ik tenminste.
        Ik vind je Nederlands erg goed! Spreken zal misschien iets moeilijker zijn, omdat je dan minder tijd hebt om na te denken.


      3. Bedankt! For now I’m mostly concentrating on reading, writing, and listening to Dutch. Once I’m comfortable with that, I think speaking will come naturally. As I listen to my meditations, I often repeat sentences I hear. Did you first learn English in school? Hoeveel talen spreek je?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ik spreek Engels, Duits, maar minder goed dan Engels. Een klein beetje Frans en een klein beetje Turks.
        Ja we krijgen Engels op school rond ons 10e jaar. Ik had het geluk dat mijn moeder Engels lerares was en mijn tante in Engeland woonde. We hebben liefde voor talen meegekregen.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ik deel een liefde voor talen met jou. Naast Engels spreek ik Spaans en een beetje Frans (ik kan het lezen) en heb Russisch, Italiaans, Portugees en Duits gestudeerd. Ik vind Nederlands erg leuk!


  2. It is lovely, it has a piece of you in it as well as her memories! And I know her personally so I can tell you that you really did capture the farm… I know she and her family personally, I should say. So yes you really did capture it

    Liked by 1 person

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