Sometimes you just meet a family and you know instantly that you are going to become great friends – and that was certainly the case behind the adorable family that lie behind this painting.
With their permission I am able to share with you the story behind this painting, and explain why it was such a joy to paint.
We met the family at one of our exhibitions – their children were two of the most lovely children we have ever met, and we hit it off with Gail and Nick their parents instantly.
At one point Gail took me to one side and asked me if I painted houses (not in the painter/decorator sense!) as she wanted to have a painting done for Nick as a present. I said I’d be happy to give it a go of course, and asked her to let me know more when she wanted it started.
They went back home and we kept in touch, and then soon after Nick contacted me and said it was Gail’s birthday in September and that he had an idea for a present for her … could I paint a picture of their house and could I add the children in, playing in the garden?!
I hadn’t heard from Gail by this point – and obviously couldn’t tell Nick what Gail had asked me!! – but I figured that she would definitely be happy with the idea for a present!
So he sent me over lots of photos, and with the wonders of Photoshop, I was able to add the children into the garden at the correct size and position like this:
The final version gave me something to work from:
It was also going to be a big piece – 70cm x 1m so I set to work prepping a board and drawing it all in.
It really was a beautiful house and I wanted to do it justice, balancing a freer hand with the garden and trees against some intricate and precise painting of doors and windows:
I really enjoyed painting all the bushes and garden peeping through the gate:
And then it was on to painting the main surprise, the two fab children playing in the garden:
They went in really well! They also had to go in rather quickly …
I had arranged with Nick that due to the size of the painting we would have to sort out a courier to ship it over to the UK – it was too big for parcel post. I had hunted around on the internet getting some quotes and then I suddenly thought about using a freight service through a removal company as that would be cheaper. As an amazing coincidence one of the Algarve company’s UK addresses was only a few miles away from their house – so I agreed to use them and Nick would secretly pick it up from their depot – a brilliant plan!
Well – it was until I rang them up on a Friday morning … and found out that the next shipment left on Sunday morning at 4am – and could I get the painting to them by Saturday tea time??! eek!!! It was my last chance as the next shipment wasn’t due to leave for 2 weeks and would be too late for Gail’s birthday!!
Amazingly the children all went in first time on the Friday and Saturday morning I was up early painting grass!
At 4pm the finished piece was duly wrapped and the driver for the removal company kindly offered to meet us to collect the now very large (and quite heavy!) package destined for their UK depot – complete with a big ‘Please look after me I am very special’ sign written on the front!
The finished painting:
I then had a nervous week worrying about ‘my baby’ until I knew that Nick had collected it safely! Thank you AIM Removals for saving the day too.
The thing I love most about my job is the wonderful feedback I get from clients – Nick was absolutely delighted with the painting, sending me several FB messages:
“Oh Aly I’m lost for words! It’s everything I’d hoped for. Beautiful!”
I knew it had arrived safely once I received this message:
“Bloody hell it’s perfect!! All here safely and smuggled into the loft ready for the big day. Love it love it love it. Well done Aly, I’m so grateful”
However the big test was still to come – had we pulled off the big surprise – and would Gail love it too?!
I think it is safe to say that she loved it!
“Just the most perfect birthday present ever. Thank you so much Alyson, you are amazing! I couldn’t have dreamed of anything so special! Thank you thank you thank you.”
We’ve also had a chuckle since over the fact that I couldn’t tell Gail about Nick’s surprise – and I couldn’t tell Nick about Gail’s plans!! Sometimes these things just work out perfectly don’t they?
So – Happy Birthday Gail – it was a pleasure to play a part in surprising you!