31 July 2007

The Dog in the Basket

As soon as I saw it, I loved the reference image that this painting is based on. The rich colors and dramatic lighting were inspiring. It is amazing how certain lighting can transform an otherwise ordinary scene into something worthy of a closer look, as if to underscore the beauty of creation.

26 July 2007

The Dog Days of Summer

Another day, another dog. This is a Norweigan Elkhound, which is something between a German Shepard and a Samoyed, or perhaps like a small Malamute. I had seen several of them competing at the Woodstock dog show. They looked as though they could have pulled a dog sled. The challenge here was to paint a kind of fur which is wooly and thick, with hairs that are often light with dark tips. This was a diffent type of dog, and I wanted to learn to paint as many types as I could.

24 July 2007

The Jack Russell Terrier

Sometimes Jack Russells lie still, but not often. An interesting effect happened with this painting. Up close, as of course it was as I worked on it, the image was somewhat indistinct. Certainly I could tell what it was, but there was a slight blurring to it. But what a surprise I got when I first viewed him from the usual critique spot at the end of the hall. Visually, this little guy just popped right out from so far away. Even this painting seemed to contain the explosive energy of the Jack Russel breed.

Don't Fence Me In

It is with good reason that Golden Retreivers are such popular dogs. Smart, loyal, gentle with kids. I think this lonely pup must be missing his family. As with the spaniel, I wasn't about to paint in every blade of grass. Its really about the dog anyway, and not about the grass, and so I improvised an impressionist approach.

23 July 2007

The Orange Tabby

I was on a roll by this time, having painted four portraits in as many days. After the weekend, since there was still no computer, I carried right on. On this second week, I gave myself the challenge of one portrait per twenty four hours.

This was a particularily beautiful cat, and like so many cats, he looks as though he knows it.

20 July 2007

A Cat in the Spotlight

I was having lots of fun with the dogs, but I was ready for a cat. For most of my life I have owned one cat or another. For my first 18 years there was Snookey, and later Lucy, Amy, Bobbie, Bruno, Heidi, Clara and Bess. Some remained for years, and were special friends, others were mothers and kittens fostered through the SPCA. Most were named, but some passed through nameless. Currently there is Orville, as seen in an earlier post, and his mother Friskey, my special favorite.

19 July 2007

The Terrier

This, I believe, is a Cairn terrier, like Toto in the Wizard of Oz. I wanted the challenge of painting unruly curly fur. I called him the 'Purple Terrier' for a while because initially he had a very strong purple background. Backgrounds can be tricky. They play a supporting role and must enhance and not compete with the subject. I usually try to link the background with the subject by adding color from one area into the other. The trick is not to overdo it. This little guy patiently sat at the end of the hall, while I would view him from a distance every so often to discover correctable imbalances. I think he looks happier now.

18 July 2007

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

There is an interesting history behind the name of this little spaniel. I had to do the research to find out what it was. It seems that this breed was recreated about 80 years ago, based on written evidence and as seen depicted in paintings that were hundreds of years old. The English King Charles was a fancier, and one is nearly always seen with him in royal portraits.

17 July 2007

The Sheltie

It was at this time that my computer suddenly died, and for the next two weeks I found I had plenty of time to paint. I was suprised by how much I was depending on a computer, and how much of my time was taken on it.

While waiting for repairs, I gave myself the assignment of painting as many dogs and cats as I could, in order to develop my skill in painting pets. I printed a stack of reference photos from Wet Canvas using another computer, and dove in.

I would like to have painted Sheila, the sheltie I once owned, but due to computer technical difficulties, I relied on the images that were available to me. The funny thing about dog breeds is that each dog can look so like the next and yet be so different. This certainly was not Sheila, and yet this dog reminded me of her in many ways. They have such an intelligent yet sensitive gaze. Sheila was the only dog I ever had; I may one day have another.

14 July 2007

The Dog Show

When the large annual dog show came to Woodstock in the middle of July, it got me thinking. Could I find a local market in pet portraiture? Perhaps not as grand a goal for an emerging artist as some, but I sensed that this might be a good niche to develop. First, however, I had to see if I liked painting dogs. Turning once again to the Wet Canvas reference library, I found an excellent example of one of my favorite breeds, the Labrador Retreiver.

There is something gratifying about painting a living thing. A flower, while living, may be beautiful, but an animal has a character and personality.

6 July 2007

The Knave of Hearts

When Ian stayed with us in May while recovering from knee surgery, he brought along the now grown kitten, George Michael. I had painted him in casein during the Christmas holidays as seen in an earlier post. On this visit he was gradually allowed to discover the great outdoors. So making up for lost time spent as an indoor cat, he spent as much of his time as possible amongst the foliage and flowers that became his jungle. He stalked birds, climed trees and ran the length of the yard for the sheer freedom of it. He even squeezed through the fence a few times to explore the uncharted reaches of suburbia. After a while we got used to his comings and goings.

It came as a suprise, then, while taking pictures of my bleeding hearts for yet another floral painting, that Georgie's little face would appear in one of the photos. He really is just as impudent as he looks. Of the paintings that I have done, this is probably my favorite.

It marked, as well, a turning point for me. It would be the last painting of flowers that I would do for some time. That inquisitive little face lead me in a new direction.