A HUGE commission!
After two weeks of really hard work in Gulynay — it was wonderful to be able to do so much work — we took a boat down the Valda to Valdis. Visiting Rizenay was no longer possible, there were already people coming down to Gulynay reporting that the snows had started.
The cart went on the boat, the donkey walked down the towpath. We would fish, chat, do semsin exercises and most of all, paint the amazing riverside scenery. Even now, with winter coming, at the end of autumn, the river was spectacular. Full of life, fish, shellfish, insects (well, those made beautiful formations, but were also a bit stingy), birds with crazy colors. And in the background endless woods, some dense, some quite open. We weren’t the only boatpeople by a long charcoal, and there were people travelling in both directions on the towpath as well. The west bank was mostly uninhabited, and didn’t have a towpath, but there it looked like the river regularly turned the forest into a swamp, and there were huge trees standing on roots that were high enough that if it were dry underneath, it would’ve been a cute hut!
Then we arrived at Valdie Liorys, apparently the place where the Brun family originally came from, and their family head still resides there. With a good portion of the clan, apparently. We got the cart off, and drove uphill, into the courtyard. Inside the courtyard, next to the house was an eight-sided tower! It really, really felt like Anshen here, as was expected.
I had already started sketching that when we were heartily welcomed, and after a bath, brought before Lord Ayran, in his tower room. He gave us wonderful food and wine, while he leaved through our sketchbooks. My sketch of Selle, the priestess of Naigha who I sketched and painted while she was copying my notebook, caught his attention. From that point, he started looking through our work as if he was looking for something specific.
In the end, he had three works on the table, one from each of us. All three were portraits of people giving their all. He smiled and said, “Can I commission three portraits of myself? If you can stay here for some weeks, so you can get to know me, like you all obviously know the subjects of these three portraits, so you can make sketches and models for a portrait painting that shows me other than a stuffy stiff in a black mantle — I would pay each of you eighty riders for the portrait. Forty now, forty when you deliver it next year.”
Even master Jeran was stunned into silence.
And with that, we stayed in Valdie Liorys until after the Feast of Naigha. Which was awesome over here! In any case, day in, day out, there was so much, such great food. There were hunts (paint!), a blacksmith (paint!), ceremonies in the tower of the Temple of Anshen (paint!) — and a whole gallery with art, mostly portraits, dating back hundreds of years.
We got acquainted with most of the Brun children, and most of the children of the people working on the estates as well, and at one point, Cynla and I had a little art class for those who were interested.
One of the boys, Moryn, took us to Valdis after the Feast, and that in itself was an interesting journey. Master Jeran had been in Valdis before, but never approached the city from this angle. It’s quite a bit smaller than Essle, but surrounded by high stone walls, more impressive than those of Veray or Tylenay.
We got in easily through the nearest gate, and after that, we only had to cross the ENTIRE city to get to what the Brun boy assured us was the only place for us to stay: an inn knowns as the Spotted Dick. I mean, Dog. There, we paid two of the sword-carrying people in the taproom to guard our cart (with all the paintings in there…), ordered a bath, a meal and two rooms. My teasing master Jeran that this way he could get a girlfriend stay with him for the night fell flat, though.
The next day was one full of chores: we had to move our works to the room in the Temple of Mizran that already had plenty of our work in it, that we had sent forward. We had to order clothes we could appear at court in, since pretty much everything we had had been through almost a year of hard travelling. We had to get acquainted with the Head of the Painters and Artist’s Guild of Valdis.
Well, that took a bit of work. He, Aldin, actually also seems, to me, to be a piece of work. We agreed, in the end, that we were visiting painters from a to-be-founded Guild in Turenay, and that we could work and exhibit in Valdis.
But that was only after we’d made clear we were going to exhibit in the Royal Palace.
Though we hadn’t permission for that yet! (Still, Athal and Raisse have a small painting by me, of them making love on the staircase in Doctor Cora’s house, so, how likely is it they will refuse?)