Getting material and studying the subject of a painting can prove very challenging when it is to be kept a secret from the recipient. Before starting  I always prefer to meet the subject, in this case a horse called Murphy. The client gave me a tight deadline to meet with her husband’s birthday coming up soon. But I believed it was okay as I always allow for potential delays. Yet in this case the husband was virtually inseparable from Murphy. After several attempts to lure him away from the horse, his wife succeeded for a couple of hours with a pub lunch nearby. I still had to park a mile away from the horse, clamber over gates and fences through adjoining fields to reach him, take some long distance photos as he thought I looked very suspicious and kept his distance. In the end the material was gathered and the painting was finished and framed with 1 day to spare before the birthday. Much to my relief and the client, the husband was thrilled.