Just a footnote to my last post really about painting scenes at markets.
One of the small dogs spotted at Stroud a fortnight (2 weeks) ago. This tiny girl was waiting for her people to stop talking so she could carry on leading the way forward.
Apologies for the short post but I am having trouble typing for any length of time due to pain in my hands. A vigorous Yoga session a couple of months ago either sprained my wrists or set off something like arthritis, I am not sure. Anyway, I have had some sort of intermittent pain in my hands (the right one especially) for weeks now, but it’s particularly bad when I type or text!
As a Christmas present, I promised I would paint my sister’s cocker spaniel, Dolly. I have a few photos of her but I thought my sister might prefer a painting based on an image she’d chosen.
My sister, however, gets distracted by all sorts of stuff, like the builders arriving to take down her lean-to shed and then having to deal with the junk that has accumulated in the said shed. In her defense, she’s inherited the contents. None of it is hers. There’s a fair bit of it.
Anyway, I am waiting for her to send me her chosen image.
“Dolly won’t sit still when I try and take a photo!”, my sister complains.
So I may be waiting a while!
So in the meantime, I have been practicing painting other people’s hounds. I like to do quick tonal acrylic sketches as a break from oil painting. It challenges to think about tonal value rather than colour. Sometimes, it get it right, sometimes I don’t.
I also did a sketch of Dolly from a photo my mother had sent me. It may be the one my sister ends up getting!
The people of Britain love their dogs. It is no secret that I love animals. I come from a family of animal lovers. My younger brother has three cockerpoo type dogs, my sister has a Cocker Spaniel called Dolly one and myself and my husband have two gorgeous mutts.
Animals can do no wrong in my family. I suspect that my mother would prefer to see photos of friends’ dogs rather than photos of their grandchildren!
So its no surprise that I often choose dogs (and their owners) as subjects for my art. I also love painting dogs as commission portraits.
I am not always terribly good at making eye contact with people when I am talking with them but when I am out walking, I will often catch the eye of a dog and a glance will pass between us. Perhaps, I am imagining this.
Dogs are cool. They live in the moment and know how to fully enjoy themselves. They love being out and about and enjoy seeing that. There is no joy like the joy of dog running free in the park or in the woods.
I like to try and see the world from their point of view. This usually means a low view point. Little Jack Russells are a favourite of mine. They have a big personality.
I particularly like to capture the body language between the dogs and and their humans. I am intrigued by the bond that links them. Even if they are just a dog and a human, they are a pack. The human is not always, “top dog”!
This part two of photo-essay on great artists who have either painted their pets, or other people’s pets as a way of proving that pets are a proper subject for serious artists.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo had many pets and they frequently appeared in her biographical portraits. In the case of her deer she identified so closely with the creature she painted herself as a hunted deer.
Salvatore Dali had some strange pets and he used them for publicity (hence the anteater in Paris) as much as anything else. I don’t think he cared much for cats (see the amazing photo below) however, some dogs did feature in his surrealist paintings.
I was going to say that fellow Spaniard, Pablo Picasso, clearly did not like cats, either.
However, I suspect, Like many cat owners, he was ambivalent about cats’ hunting skill and their drive to kill, even when they are well fed. Perhaps that was why he was fascinated by a cat’s encounter with a lobster, which he painted several times. However, a number of much less vicious cats, kittens in fact, also appear in his paintings.
If we look at the photographic evidence it seems clear that Picasso clearly liked both cats and dogs. His absolute favourite dog was a Dachshund called, Lump. “Lump had an absolutely pampered life there. Picasso once said, ‘Lump, he’s not a dog, he’s not a little man, he’s somebody else.’ Picasso had many dogs, but Lump was the only one he took in his arms.”
And pampered Lump clearly was. He died ten days before Picasso, on 29 March 1973.
Ammerican pop artist, Andy Warhol was also a fan of dachshunds.
British painter David Hockney is also a massive fan of the short-legged pooches.
British painter, Lucien Freud was famously fond of dogs especially his pair of whippets whom he often painted.
American artist Andrew Wyeth painted a number of beautifully atmospheric paintings of his Labrador-type dog.
Time for some cat lovers, I think. Less well known, is the British artist Ruskin Spear who painted many wonderful pictures of his cats.
Bridgeman; (c) Somerset County Museums Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Another, lesser known British artist, Beryl Cook, painted some fabulously plump cats to go with her full-of-life people.
More cats and a lobster, only this time the lobster is outnumbered.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is another cat lover. He lives with about 40 of them in his Beijing home.
Swedish artist Benjamin Björklund paints very beautiful and atmospheric portraits of both humans and animals. He is interested in the emotional states of his subjects, whether they are his members or (his Great Dane), his pet rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs, as well as the wild animals outside.
I’ll end with Jeff Koons. The American artist is known for working with popular culture subjects, and he has also used as dogs as subject matter in his work. “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s. ” Possibly, his reproductions of banal objects such as balloon dogs should prove that animals are an uncool subject matter?
And yet “Puppy” his installation of flower-filled a giant West Highland Terrier is pretty awesome. I think that it honestly doesn’t matter what you paint, cats, dogs, cows or people but how you approach your subject that matters.