Painting dogs from photographs is one of my favorite things to do. This is an english setter named "neutron" who lives in
France. His owner commissioned a painting from me in June, and emailed me a few photographs.
I selected a romantic photo of the dog in a field and painted a nice portrait that I hoped would please. To tell the truth,
I find it stressful to paint commissions. I have the best time when I am painting for nobody but myself.
A few months later, I painted this second portrait when the pressure was off.
I painted the portrait over an oil painting by my then 5 yr old grandson. I like painting over old canvases, probably because
of my New England heritage where I hate to waste anything.
Here are stages of the portrait as it progressed. It is size 9x12".
I started out by scraping off the underpainting, an abstract done with oil sticks by my 5 yr old grandson.
Then I used bright cadmium red medium to "draw" the image of the dog. I used this color because it was the only one that had
not dried out in my paint box and I had a lot of it.
I worked in my kitchen with light coming in the windows, while listening to an unabridged book on tape called JOHN ADAMS by
The days are short this time of year, so I had to resist the urge to take an afternoon nap and paint while the sun was out.
At first I liked the painting with the red background. But after looking at it on my kitchen wall, I decided the image did
not have enough depth. It looked kind of flat.
I reworked it without thinking, painting with my mind "at rest," kind of mindlessly. That is my favorite way to paint. I can
paint while talking on the phone or listening to the radio. Apparently my brain is compartmentalized so that speaking does
not interfere with my hand-eye coordination.
Perhaps I was thinking of Vuillard when those lovely blues and greens and beige colors came up in the background. Perhaps
I was thinking of a grassy field. I stopped when the result pleased me.
When painting, most of what I do pleases me. Have you ever noticed how some painters love their own work? I believe we each
have an inner child that is encouraged by praise. All I know is when I am working, everything I am creating looks TERRIFIC.
Later on, I might be more judgmental, but not much. The happier I am, the better my work seems to turn out.
I brought this painting to the AVAM show. Nobody bought it, but I sold a few giclee prints of it for $10 each.
Here is my booth at the one-day show at the American Visionary Arts Museum on Key Highway in Baltimore, November 25, 2006.
It was my last art show of the year.
Let me tell you there is no thrill on earth like being able to hang up all my paintings and look at them all together, and
sit there working and have people come by and say "I like your stuff."
Here is a picture I was working on, self portrait as my inner child. This was painted over a canvas I found on the street,
or else in a dumpster behind an art school last year. I scraped off the old painting as much as I could, but two bumpy swirls
remained, so I used them as a start for the eyes and the rest of the form evolved as I painted on and off over the past six
Sometimes people come up to me at an art show and ask "did you paint all those today?" or "did you paint that today?" or "how
long does it take to make a painting?"
It's hard to know how to answer questions like that. Some people say "all my life" or words to that effect... I work over
and over and over paintings. Some people feel I "overwork" them. It's a matter of taste I guess. I put the paint on, then
scratch through it until it gets a kind of scumbled multicolor effect which I like.