Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The power of the press!

"Burton Agnes Hall, Spring 2006"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

Recently I was pleased to donate an A3 giclee print of this 2006 painting as part of a charity auction run by the East Riding Council and was even more pleased when it realised £150!
However at the time I painted the original, perhaps I was not so pleased.
For several years I had the  pleasure of sharing the artist in residence at Burton Agnes Hall with  a good friend - Tony Hogan. Tony is a very well known artist and it was great fun to spend a whole month together painting and enjoying life in general in this lovely location. We were based in the summer house and exhibited our paintings for sale there as well as in the Long Gallery of the house itself....a brilliant setup, I think you will agree.
I probably had the best part of the deal. Because I lived in York at the the time I was given a rent free flat for the full month of April. Now the flat was in the old servants quarters...but who cares...we didn't! For Merice and me it was a free holiday and we even had the grand-kids over for the odd weekend.
Back to the matter in hand...
It was the first day of our residency. We had hung all our paintings and they made a good display even though we said it ourselves. Merice was pottering about in the flat and Eileen, Tony's wife, had returned home so we were on our own.
We were discussing the press visit due the following day.
"Any particular plans for this season?" Tony asked.
I had been mulling over a little project and blurted it out - "I rather fancy having a go at a large painting of the Hall itself." I said. Now I was not, and still am not, particularly inspired by painting buildings but I thought it might be another string to my bow and get me some commissions.
The next day along came the press and we were shepherded around the grounds while the photographer captured us in suitable artistic poses and then back to the summer house for a cuppa and a chat with the reporter. All went well until towards the end of the interview when the reporter asked if we had any special plans for this year. Tony made a suitable reply about his intentions and then added "...and Glenn is going to do a large painting of the Hall this year".
"That's interesting." said the scribbler making his notes with a final flourish before departing to write up his story.
So there it was. I was now totally committed to the large painting of the house!
Well I put it off and off until Tuesday of the last week before I decided to give it a go. I set up my easel with a full sheet of paper directly in front of the house. My intention was to paint the east face of the Hall which would be reflected in the ponds in front to make an unusual view - one that I hadn't seen anyone tackle before.
The drawing was painstaking and took two full days..well not exactly full ..plenty of time off for coffee and meals etc..but you know what I mean. I included every window - go see for yourself if you don't believe me! Finally it was finished and I was so impressed with what I'd done that I decided to take no chances. I scrapped all ideas about reflections in ponds and such like - this was now to be a simple painting of the house in pre-pond days!
The sky and background trees were painted quite loosely but for the building itself I took my time using a very small brush. It is probably the most nerve wracking painting I have ever done but at last it was finished and I had done what I said I would do.
I have done a few 'building' commissions since but never on this scale. In the process I have gained an enormous appreciation and respect  for topographical artists.

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