Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home," Twayla Tharp

"Precious Phoebe", watercolor, 10 x 10

This is a portrait commission of Phoebe, a Maltese mix who was beloved by Bob and L.J. Huffaker. I remember reading that pets are relatives we can choose and I think that is right. They give us so much in our lives. Phoebe left a loving legacy to a new brother, Crosby, who joined the family a couple of weeks ago. My daughter also lost a precious pet pug, Prissy, who had been in her family for over ten years. Prissy was a good model for me in several paintings. Mainly because she had such a inquisitive face that I loved to paint.

If you paint pet portraits or would like to have a portrait done of a pet, most artists will work from photographs. I like to meet the pet and shoot my own photographs, but that is not always possible. Most people shoot looking down on a cat or dog which makes their head appear larger and foreshortens their body and legs. Better to get on their level and shoot, thinking about what you would want painted, a side view, frontal, seated, etc. Unfortunately, pets think we are getting on their level to play or pet them so they tend to come towards us while we are aiming. It's fun, it's like trying to get a toddler to sit still- and look at you- and smile- and not put their hands or anything else in their mouth. Cats will just walk off and leave you sitting there too. So sometimes you need to know something about the anatomy of an animal in order to paint it in proportion because your photographs are not often the perfect shot. Sketching, cropping, making changes are all a part of designing the portrait, just like you would do for a person. Then, I really like it when my patron lets me decide if it should be an oil or watercolor. Phoebe had such silky shiny fur that I saw her as a watercolor.

Tomorrow I will sit in on a painting demonstration by Hunter Eddy, an oil painter who teaches at the Florence Academy of Art. He does striking still lifes. I will share my observations about his technique with my classes Tuesday and also later in the blog.

On another thought, I was nominated for a blog award by Vicki Ross and I graciously accept! It is my turn to nominate a few people and I will contact them with the news. I will have to go into my bookmarks and get their addresses to share with you so will post them next time.
Hope you have some "away" time this week to enjoy what you love doing.
Happy Painting!

1 comment:

vickiandrandyrossart said...

Man, did I ever fall behind! I'm working on Mr. Les' new website, and completely lost track of my emails. Can't wait to get back in the studio!