I delivered this large "wreath", as they call it, to Mark and Celine's apartment in London on Saturday. I started the commission in October '21 so it was brilliant to see it installed.
At the beginning of the process Mark spoke to me about his love of oil fires at sea. I assumed my calm face and listened on. Of course he had a bunch of photos to show me, and then I understood. I'm used to using the sea as the ultimate provider of calm, even when it's stormy, so his images completely challenged that. Sea and fire, water and oil are both complete contradictions. The idea was such an exciting and challenging starting point.
SInce contrast is what we were both after, the first step was to work out a palette. I upped the saturation from source material. Mark and I were both keep to use more bright red than would naturally occur in fire. I soon realised that palette alone wouldn't be descriptive enough, so at that point I knew that this would be a mixed media piece. I made a few miniature studies for Mark so we knew we were on the same page. He and Celine picked their favourite and were very helpful communicative about their hopes for the piece.
In the end the mixed media included gouache for it's matte opacity and to contrast, gold, silver, bronze , aluminium, an unidentified and black metal leaf, I also used nail varnish for it's oiliness,, brusho ink, and metal powders,
Obviously I got covid in the middle, but it was actually quite helpful in that it gave me 10 days of slightly feverish focus on the painting. After the painting was done (about 3-4 weeks) I had the joy of assembling the chainmail which is always so satisfying. I think there is a video on my instagram @esther.miles.
Thank you to Mark and Celine for commissioning this challenging work, and for being so lovely throughout.
The finished piece is about 900 x 900mm.