Friday, December 27, 2013

"Frankie" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Frankie" is for Amy, who commissioned the painting for her mother.  Frankie is a 23-year-old chestnut, Canadian Warmblood Sport Horse.  According to Amy's mom, "calm" is the best adjective to describe him.  Does he look calm in the portrait?  I think he does.

Frankie is a rescue horse.  Although her family think he is perfect, he is not, physically speaking.  He has only one eye (his right one); his left eye is sewn closed.  He is big (about 17 hands) and a bit thin.  Fortunately over the past 8 months, he has gained some weight.

It is easy to love someone or some thing beautiful, adorable, cute, handsome, etc.  It takes a big heart and true love of animals to adopt and take care of a disabled, malnourished horse who was probably abused.  I thank you, Amy's mom, for giving a second chance and happy retirement to Frankie.

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Indiana Jones" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Indiana Jones" is for Sean, who commissioned the painting for his family.  This happy dog is a rescue dog and has been a huge part of Sean's family ever since his parents rescued her as a puppy in 2004.  She got the cool name, Indi for short, as a result of his little brothers' favorite movie being "Indiana Jones" at that time.

Indi is a mutt, probably part Greyhound and part Plott Hound. She is a lovable dog who is shy around people she doesn't know, but incredibly friendly to those she knows.  She is full of energy and loves to run around the backyard.  That said, she is happiest sleeping on the couch, or watching TV with the family!

I still have a few more commissions to finish, but there is only one of me!  I would like to thank all my readers for following my blog.  My special thanks go to my clients who have kept me super busy for the past several weeks.  On Christmas morning all over the country, many families will receive my paintings.  There will be cries of joy, perhaps some tears as well, because quite a few of my cats and dogs have gone to heaven.  My sincere hope is that I've brought you happiness.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Max" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Max" is for Dustin, who commissioned the painting for his family.  Max is a 12-year-old Great Pyrenees and still alive.  Yeah!  He is a huge dog and all fur, probably 6' 2" when on his hind legs!  He thinks he is a small lap dog though and will routinely try and sit on your lap.  He loves to run around with his sister and pretend that he is still a puppy.  He is always smiling, just like he is in the painting.  According to Dustin, Max is the most gentle and smiley dog in history.  I believe Dustin.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Deacon and Fern" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


"Deacon and Fern" is for Jennifer, who commissioned the portrait of the two dogs to lift the spirits of her parents-in-law.  They lost both dogs this year, with the boxer having died of cancer just this month.  I hope my painting gives them some comfort.

Deacon, the German Shepherd, was a big dog who was very protective of and sweet to his family.  He would never have hurt anyone, but he sure looked scary!  He was just a big teddy bear at heart.

Fern, the boxer, was another sweet dog.  She was friendly with all visitors.  She was always the first to greet anyone at the door and jump up at you for attention.  Her little tail wiggled around like crazy!

Deacon and Fern were great friends and loved lying on the couch in the sunroom.  The first picture Jennifer sent me showed exactly such a scene, except that they were facing the opposite direction, looking all pooped out.  The second picture, which I used for the painting, was taken outside on a sunny day.

I really like the composition.  Each dog occupies its own space and their portraits capture different angles (Deacon's is a profile portrait and Fern's, a three-quarter one).  Neither is anybody's sidekick, yet they belong together.  Noble, strong, and handsome.  They will live forever in my portrait and in their family's heart.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Sam" (oil on linen; 14" x 11") sold


"Sam" is for Kristin and her brother, who commissioned the painting for their father.  Sam is a four-year-old black Labrador.  He is a field trial champion and came all the way from Ireland! The reference picture was taken in their dad's hunting blind in Chesapeake on a beautiful autumn day, when Sam retrieved eight geese.

Kristin initially ordered a 10" x 8" pet portrait.  Boy, I wished for a larger painting, so that I could do justice to such an awesome subject.  Then I could paint not only the portrait of the noble dog, but also the still life tableau of the game and hunting blind in the foreground and the autumn landscape in the background.  Somehow, Kristin telepathically read my mind and decided to upgrade.  The power of positive thinking got proven again!

They say that a dog is a man's best friend.  Sam is indeed Kristin's dad's best friend.  Can you imagine how proud and happy Kristin's dad will be when he learns about the thoughtful present on Christmas?  He will only see a card with the image of "Sam"; the painting will arrive after the New Year's Day.  I would like to thank here several clients who kindly agreed to the late deliveries of their orders.  As one client said, it is worth it!

"Sam" in progress

By the way, I took a picture of the painting in progress yesterday.  I don't usually do this, because it puts an additional pressure on myself and the step-by-step photos taken in my studio always have strange white balance.  But I get inquiries about my procedures from curious fellow artists, so here we go.  I use the same methods for all my oil paintings, whether portraits, landscapes, or florals.

I use the grid method to transfer the image to the linen panel.  (Can you see the grids I drew on the print on the left?)  Drawing in raw umber gets done fast.  The next step is a transparent underpainting over the drawing.  The geese in the foreground in the painting has, at this point, only a thin layer of transparent paints, but don't they already look finished?

My goal at this stage is to establish the correct value and color temperature scheme.  Much of the drawing gets lost, as you can see in the dog, who lost all the facial features.  But it's okay.  I don't blindly paint by numbers.  Painting is a continual drawing process with a brush!

I have already started blocking in with thick opaque paints in the landscape background and the weedy foreground.  It probably took about an hour or so to get this far.  It took four additional hours to finish the painting.  (Facial features alone sometimes take a hour.)  It was a long day yesterday!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Gracie" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Gracie" is for Cecilia, who commissioned me to paint two pet portraits for her mother.  Gracie, a Lab/Great Pyrenees mix, is a bit shy with people at first, but loyal and sweet with dogs of all sizes, particularly little dogs.  Doesn't her sweet nature come through in the portrait?

Unlike "Georgie", we had trouble finding the right photo for the commission.  Fortunately, Cecilia's dad was in on it, so he helped out by sending us more and more pictures.  My client wanted two paintings in the same format, so that they would look great when hung side by side. It was a good idea because the two dogs are about the same size and similar coloring (black and white).  Eventually there was a picture I could crop down to the sweet square to match "Georgie".  I think our quest was worth it!

"Gracie" and "Georgie" side by side

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Georgie" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Georgie" is the first painting for Cecilia, who commissioned two pet portraits for her mother.  Georgie is a three-year-old Pit Bull/Irish Terrier mix.  He is a wild man who torments Gracie, the subject of the next painting, but loves all human beings to a fault.  He picks on dogs smaller than himself!

Don't you just love the light in this painting?  As Georgie was posing calmly in his back seat in the car, the winter afternoon light hit his right side down to the shoulder.  When I saw the reference photo, my eyes lit up with delight!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Newman" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


"Newman" is for Jennifer, who commissioned the painting for her husband.  Newman is a 14-month-old fun dog of an unknown breed.  Jennifer and her husband were told that he was a border collie/lab mix, but in order to get to the bottom of things, they got a DNA test done.  As it turns out, Newman is a true mutt mix--collie, American Staffordshire terrier, German spitz, Portuguese water dog, and a few other things!

The young couple adopted Newman one year ago from an animal shelter in the tiny town of Newman, CA.  He and his 9 siblings were abandoned on the side of the road.  He was filthy and smelly, but the cutest filthy smelly puppy ever!  Jennifer knew he was her dog the moment she saw him.

Newman is super smart, which, I am sure, you can tell from his portrait.  He has never met another dog/cat/person he doesn't like.  He is the biggest lovebug and is quite possibly the most snuggly dog on the planet.  Jennifer and Newman go running almost everyday.  They also hike in a state park by their house, where he gets to run around the forest and in the creeks. Newman is basically the happiest dog ever.

I must say something about how the painting was born.  There was a good head/shoulder shot I was going to use for the commission.  Then I learned about his "Michael Jackson paw".  Only one of his pictures (puppy picture at that) showed his one white paw.  I also found out that he loves the beach.  So I pasted his handsome face on the puppy body and put him on a beach.  I also invented the outdoorsy shadows.  I sincerely hope I pulled it off.  What do you say?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Juno" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Juno" is for Madeline, who commissioned the painting for her husband.  Juno is a one-and-a-half-year-old Goldendoodle who loves rubber balls.  She is a wonderful guard dog and pal to Madeline's baby son.  She has yet to meet a person whom she doesn't like, regardless of how they feel about her!  She still has some puppy exuberance, but she always has a bit of regalness about her, that's why her nickname is Lady Juno.  

Madeline liked another photo better for the commission, but the moment I saw my favorite picture with a titled head and puzzled, inquisitive expression, I was sold.  I talked Madeline into this composition.  She graciously accepted my suggestion, with one proviso: get rid of the hunting vest Juno was wearing.  So I did.  Thank you, Madeline!

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Francis" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


"Francis" is for Mike DiCenzo.  Mike commissioned the painting for his friend, John, who just got a cat that he loves.  When I saw the picture of Francis, my heart melted, so I can believe why this cat is special to John.

Francis is a six-month-old kitten of an unknown, but beautiful, breed.  I asked Mike about Francis's fun facts.  In my mind, I could see him scratching his head.  How would he know much about his friend's cat?  He said that Francis likes to spoon with John!

I have a fun fact about Mike for you.  He is a writer on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  So is John, by the way.  I am feeling famous, painting for famous people and all.  Hahaha!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Lily" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Lily" is the last painting for Cameron.  Lily, a Dachshund, is the newest addition to the family, having just joined the bunch a year ago.  She is still a little wild, but her favorite perch for snoozing is any warm lap!  It is wonderful to see dogs with canine companions, because dogs get lonely when their human family are not around the house.  Thank you, Cameron, for trusting me to paint these darling dogs.  You are the third person to order three pet portraits!

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Chico" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold


"Chico" is the second painting for Cameron.  He is a mutt (probably Chihuahua mix) that her boyfriend's parents rescued from Honduras when they were living there.  He generally does his own thing, bu is also very sweet.  I would like to add that he looks like an intelligent dog.  Chico likes to sit on his haunches like a prairie dog!

In the reference photo, Chico had squinty eyes because of the bright dappled light.  I changed them to alert, wide-open eyes.  Aren't I good?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Bruno" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold


"Bruno" is the first painting for Cameron, who commissioned three pet portraits for her future parents-in-law.  Since they have everything and adore their three dogs, she thought pet portraits would make the perfect gift.  I must say that Cameron is the smarted young lady I have ever come across!

Bruno, a Dachshund, is a lover.  He is very affectionate and wouldn't hurt a fly.  Even in this small portrait, his gentle personality comes through, don't you agree?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Pucci" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


"Pucci" is for Tammy, whom I met last April during the workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry.  She has been following me ever since and asked me to paint "Pucci" for her husband for Christmas.  I was thrilled with such a request by a fellow artist.  Thank you, Tammy.

Before I go on talking about Pucci's special qualities, I have to mention something else.  Before this "beach dog" painting was born, there was the "Christmas dog" painting that I had in mind, as one of the initial pictures Tammy sent me had a photo of Pucci sitting in front of a Christmas tree and presents.  Perfect!  As soon as I printed out a Photoshopped image and drew a grid on it for the painting project, she sent me another picture of Pucci walking on a beach.  The moment I saw it, I threw out the "Christmas dog" painting out of the window.  Look at the finished painting.  If I may say so, isn't it awesome!

Pucci was a shelter rescue at the age of two.  She was possibly a Chow mixed with Shetland Sheepdog.  She expressed her love and gratitude everyday.  She went to work with Tammy and her husband, slept by their side, and followed their every footstep.

Tammy's family live in a rural area with a big yard near a pond.  Pucci loved to lie in the shade of a maple tree, "overlooking her kingdom."  They also have a house on the East Coast, where she loved the beach.  People stopped them on their walks to tell them how beautiful she was. She especially enjoyed that!  You see, I had to paint Pucci walking on the beach.  She would be happy in the dog heaven.

Pucci passed away in May unexpectedly, and she is in Tammy and her husband's thoughts everyday.

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Sadie" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Sadie" is for Kim and Gary, who commissioned the painting for Gary's parents.  The adorable Sadie is a five-year-old Wheaten terrier and their "baby" since they have no kids at home.  

There was a debate about the composition.  Kim wanted a shoulder up shot, which would show the fluffiness of Sadie's face and the kindness of her eyes.  On the other hand, Gary suggested a full body painting with the outdoor background.  His parents take Sadie on walks along the Eno River in North Carolina many times each week, so such a painting would be more meaningful to them.  Following Gary's suggestion, I combined two pictures: one with Sadie's head slightly tilted, which I cropped to zoom in on the head, and another with the rock bed background.

By the way, this is my first 8" x 10" single pet portrait.  It is large enough to have a developed background AND the expressive portrait of Sadie.  I believe that the environment in which the subject is situated is vital to the success of a painting, whether an airy, colorful ground, a grassy lawn, an interior with a couch , or a rocky park with dappled light.  So much so that, I almost always paint the background first!