Here is Preston the Welsh Corgi, 12x14" colored pencil on linen, my reference photos. This was a custom portrait created for the best of clients who expressly encouraged me to paint whatever made me happy; thus the unusual angle and wet fur. The client, myself and her two dogs, spent hours walking and photographing at two different locations, until I had many beautiful reference shots from which to choose. My art needs a story and Preston provided one when he unexpectedly followed his housemate, a Labrador Retriever, straight into the river. Corgis are all chest and no legs. Preston had never been beyond wading. He sank like a stone, then bobbed to the surface. The swimming technique, newly minted, added to the hilarity of Preston's alarmed expression, but he arrived safely to the water's edge soaking wet and disgruntled.
You know, this is the most fun I've had in months! And the most interesting part is it is a custom portrait, not something I'm doing for myself or a competition. This is a WIP of Preston, a very wet Welsh Corgi that just discovered that water can swallow you whole. During the photo shoot we took a stroll along the bank of The Little Miami, East Fork Branch. Preston followed his Labrador Retriever housemate straight into the river without a thought. He'd never been in water over his head. He sank like a stone, then bobbed up with an expression of pure shock! Pres isn't entirely sure water is to be trusted ever again! This piece will eventually be 12x14" Painted on lovely blue linen mat with CARAN d"ACHE Luminance, PRISMACOLOR and DERWENT COLOURsoft pencils.
I just finished two small paintings for a lovely client who wished to create the perfect gifts for her two children: table top original portraits of their two dogs. Each child chose a puppy fourteen years ago. They are now gray in the muzzle and a little slower, but otherwise healthy. The children, both in college, miss their pups. I spent a few hours one afternoon, photographing and getting to know the dogs, while also learning about the family and the mom. The photographs and expressions were chosen by her. We wished to capture each dog's personality in a tiny 5x7 head shot. This is not an easy task. In fact, a lot can be lost in one small tick of the pencil. I struggled with these. There was concern that the dog Ed, looking at the viewer and pleading to be petted, might appear to be giving dominant eye contact. Thanks to my husband's suggestion, a touch of dark to the eyebrow made the difference in the perceived expression. The other dog, Lucy held a strange pose which finally necessitated the inclusion of parts of her foreleg; otherwise her head would have seemed tipped over.
I decided to use colored linen mat as the surface to give these a painterly feel. Lucy, who is mostly black, is painted on a dark blue mat and Ed, who has a lot of browns and reds, is on a red mat. Using colored mat board, even if completely covered with pigment, is similar to an under paint wash and provides tone.
When my client finally saw the finished pieces she was completely satisfied. This is a blessing, because I never know what a client will think until they have the art in hand. Now I can relax for a bit and paint something new, something BIGGER.
I used mostly Prismas and Luminance cp's with mineral spirits on 100% rag mat board. I'm almost sad I darkened the foreground. It's hard to know what to do once you have taken the plunge. Even if you photo shop values into the comp during the designing stages, there's the perspective and "reality"aspect. Would I leave a detailed background and a blank foreground? Wouldn't that be odd? My thought was that subtle roughed in details and shadowy earth tones would support the portrait without busying it up too much. What do you think?
Lucy is coming along. Her coat colors are a gigantic challenge. I have hundreds of colored pencils rolling around on the drafting table! The use of mineral spirits was crucial. Tweaking will come later. I am going to set this aside for a little while to work on something else. Plenty left to do, but I'm "Artist blind."
The hardest thing about being a professional artist is sales. If it isn't a custom order, what sells? Does every successful artist consider this when deciding on a subject to paint? After spending the first few years establishing my reputation, should I stick to what works? Should I, in essence, brand myself ? The collector needs to be comforted by a certain predictability, right? He/she needs to "know" me a little before forking over $1000.00. But as an artist how do I continue to be stimulated? I can't do the same thing over and over without becoming stale. How do I explore and challenge myself if I don't step off the path? I guess it has more to do with business plan and intent. Am I an artist who equates success with income or peer accolades or self fulfillment? The answer is a little of all three. Of course I would love to get paid for doing something well. Who wouldn't? But, that is not my first goal. Right now, I wish to create meaningful, well executed images that resonate with one or two (OK, let's be honest here, many) viewers. My style is emerging on its own and continues to evolve. Who knows what it will look like in 10 years. I don't feel I have time to fool around with what sells at this point in my life. There's too much to learn. I hope that along the way, someone likes my art enough to buy it. So much for a business plan. I really don't have one. I just do the art, show it and enter as many competitions as I can afford. When I actually sell something it's fantastic! Go ahead, say what's on your mind."Don't quit your day job," right?
This wonderful Pitbull mix, was a rambunctious, sweet dog and represented the best personality traits of a much misunderstood bloodline. If this portrait sells, part of the proceeds will go to the SPCA ,where many of her kind wait to be adopted. This portrait would never have happened if not for the devoted couple who adopted her as a puppy.
Chubs a 12 year old Corgi with lymphoma, lasted longer than expected. He held on through Christmas 2012 for a family reunion and beyond- spending his last months with his best friend, who was parted from him and sent to Afghanistan early this year. Soon after, Chubs quietly let go and passed on. His boy, my nephew, is returning to the states in a few months. This is a gift. Sh-h-h-h!
Who Rescued Whom?Read More
The overwhelmingly positive reaction to this painting astonishes me. Who Rescued Whom has been hanging in the library of LSU's School of Veterinary Medicine since the end of March, where it was exhibited in their annual International Exhibition on Animals in Art and won Judge's Award. One person actually cried when she entered the library and saw it for the first time. She said it reminded her of her dad who had just passed. I knew the composition had potential, the day I came upon Willie and Tucker basking together in the afternoon sun of their first few hours together. Their expressions spoke volumes to me. What I didn't expect was that in capturing this moment, I was able to share it in a deep emotional way with complete strangers.
Upon the request of family members I had a professional photographer make giclee prints. The original is awaiting its new home. If you took the time to read this blog and are interested in a print, comment back and I will give you pricing and dimensions. Thanks for reading!