Cathy Read - Artist - Arriving at Victoria painting

How a Painting of the Wrong Victoria led to a Double Commission

As usual it began with a phone call. These things usually do. The lady was sourcing paintings for a refit for Wetherspoons at Victoria Station. A long conversation followed. She liked my work and was delighted to discover my painting Victorian Destinations was actually of Victoria Station, was it available?

“Yes” I replied, “it is.” A lengthy discussion followed, and everything seemed set for a quick sale. I was delighted.

Cathy Read - Artist - Victorian Destinations Painting

Not long after, the email arrived with the details, but they now realised it was Victoria Station in Manchester and it needed to be the Victoria Station in London! Would I be able to complete a painting of that station in time? We had just over two weeks, I considered and I said yes, if we started immediately. Those last words were important as I knew there were others involved in the decision

Could I send some high resolution images, as she was meeting with a designer later, and then they would confirm either way. After some tooing and froing, it eventually became a commission for not one but two paintings. Both would need to be started and finished by the original deadline. Which was now less than two weeks. At this point, I should say, I normally allow at least 4 weeks for a commission.

The pair of paintings were to be the start and finish points in the telling the story of a visitor’s journey to London, starting at Victoria Station. The destination was yet to be decided. Back on the day of the second phonecall, after I’d discovered I needed the London station, I’d had the foresight to ask my other half to take photos on his way home from work. So, with some serious editing, we finalised the composition for the first painting and work began on Victoria Station. Nearly a week later than I’d hoped. Here’s the result.

Cathy Read - Artist - Arriving at Victoria painting

The plan was to finalise the brief for the second painting so I could begin it, as soon as painting had begun on this first commission piece.

It took longer… With a commission, it helps if the client has a clear idea of what they’re looking for. At least a vague location area. We went from Muswell Hill to Canary Whart from Rotherhithe. Finally agreeing on the image for the second painting when we realised I’d already amassed suitable reference images from a previous photo shoot. The second was begun but with the addition of the Underground map, after painting had begun. Something of a technical issue as the white paper was already painted. This is the final image. The perfectionist in me would have liked another week, but it’s worked well, as you can see below.

Cathy Read - Artist - Discovering a City painting

They are now installed in Whetherspoons at Victoria Station for all the world to see. Check them out if you’re in the area. Interested in learning more about the Commissioning Process? There’s a more detailed description below.

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