Every commission I do starts with a consultation. I ask about the family, what they love to do, their personalities, how they all fit together. I then ask them to send me pictures and start working through them, trying to extract an essence.
This particular commission was so lovely to do. You could see the love and the passion that oozed out of the pictures. It is such a pleasure and a privilege to have this door opened to me and to be allowed in and then to create something so special.
Starting in the middle, it all turns around the African sun. The sun is based on an African Sun mask. The triangles mix with the classic sun rays, and represent the fire, the passion and family values of togetherness, that came through so strongly in the reference.
The eyes of the sun, one blue and one brown, are the eyes of the daughters, eyes shared with their parents.
The Land Rover’s name is Ou boet. He is the centre of travel around our beautiful Southern Africa. He is movement and memories and places you love. He travels you to all corners - the desert, mountain, forest and sea… and from Ou Boet, a trail of dust wisps up and ribbons around linking the family together with African dirt.
The aeroplanes circle too, a ticket to far off places. They are transporting and run through life but don’t bind you like the soil and the dust of overlanding.
The rays of the sun reach out and touch the family, who circle and dance around the sun. Their movement is the turning of the years, the seasons, the cycles, the growing and remembering.
One of the girls is holding a lightning bolt and a cloud, a bit of a variant of the ‘head in the clouds’, you see, there is a wisdom to the clouds too and no better sign of wisdom than the owl.
The other, has her sword and her cape and she is flying through the rainbow, still more pup than warrior but she has that spirit.
The family pets are there too. The cats are still close to mum and dad being new, and the dogs are down at the bottom with their crowns and angel wings… can you find the hamster?
The animals, that quintessential Africa-ness, they are in pairs and families and groups, it seemed fitting for this family who are so close-knit, that the rest of the picture should reflect this…lastly, there is a pair of marshal eagles, our most powerful raptor, that mates for life.
I struggled with the main colour for this family mandala commission. Figuring out what would tie it all together. I thought about blue but felt it was too cold and then I tried maroon and it wasn’t quite right but, when I started adding the yellow… it all just came together and seemed so obvious... The warmth of the family photos, the words about how important family is and the time they spend together…
Yellow is the sun.
That intensity of work and heat and play… That infusion of yellow is also pure delight, a big hug from nature, its joy and togetherness and warmth of love which touches everything…
There are sunglasses and proteas and wine glasses and stars strewn around the mandala, all the things that are there in life and sort-of colour it in, and none of the family are wearing shoes…
I noticed in the reference pics for the commission that many were of empty shoes on beaches or campsites, and it seemed to me to be short-hand for relaxing and letting go… so I left them out.
Instead the bare-footed foot prints are there around the sun, a record of where you’ve been and what’s important as you walk around the sun.
If you'd like me to paint you a mandala or something else in my style - drop me a mail :)
See more of my art commissions here or check out my online shop.