Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Louie in Blue

A couple of months ago, a gentleman for whom I had painted two portraits contacted me.  He wanted me to paint a portrait of a dog who accompanies a woman back and forth from Bainbridge to Seattle.  This gentleman is a state patrol officer in the K9 unit stationed at the Colman dock.  The dog, Louie, reminded him of his dear lab, Abby, who I painted as a surprise Christmas present for him from his partner.

This officer struck up a friendship with this woman years ago because his black lab was about the same age. As the years went by, the black labs' muzzles grew gray, their mobility decreased.  Eventually, his lab, Abby, died. It was two months before her 16th birthday.  He received one of my paintings for Christmas when the grief was still fresh.

But the woman still had Louie.  Eight  months ago, Louie could no longer manage the 1/2 mile from the ferry terminal  and so the state patrol officer didn't see him any more.  Then, Louie died. The woman, (and I think, the officer) was heartbroken.  The officer wondered what he could do for her.  He remembered how much it helped to have a painting of his dearest friend Abby and contacted me. 

I had to finish a couple of other commissions before I could start on Louie.  I then worked with low resolution pictures because the officer didn't want to ask for photos as a basis for a painting.  My usual tricks of changing the contrast and light values on the digital photos to see the lines better didn't work:  the picture became fuzzy.  Areas that I had difficulty with where the jowls as they moved toward the ear and the definition of the ear.  I  left this painting and tried a different layout that showed more of Louie's body (and, I hoped, where the "problem areas" didn't fall into the powerful area where, employing the rule of thirds, the horizontal and vertical lines met).

I tried again and got the curves right on the left side and the right ear. I then went back and fixed the same lines on the first painting. I asked the officer to choose which painting to give to the woman.  He chose Louie in Blue.  

Thursday, September 06, 2012

For Jillian

Jillian bid on a custom pet portrait offered at a Purrfect Pals fundraiser where she was a lab tech.  She wrote me a heartfelt letter about her cat, who had been an indoor/outdoor cat who had caught FIV, and then died, years later.
This cat was hard for me to finish because I wanted to capture the torn ears, the inside/outside life, and of course his personality. 
One of my cats was dying too while I was painting this and Jillian's story hit home. 
Indoor/outdoor cats don't live as long as indoor cats and are more succeptable to illnesses. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


 I have painted all of my friend Kris's cats.  They were early paintings, created to make sure that I could capture unique personalities on canvas.  And, they were easy... Three different personalities, even if they all wearing the same color scheme.  I knew them too -- I've even cat sitted for Kris, because she, like me is very particular over who cares for her animals.  We've talked about being the caretakers for our animals if the other dies -- because we each trust the other to do the right thing for our animals. 
I would do most anything for Kris.  Recently, her cat, Simon, ran away from home.  Naturally a skittish cat with feral roots, Kris has been worried for over 20 days.  She has tried to trap him.  When she thought she had him cornered, my husband and I stopped what we were doing and ran over to help. The attempt failed and I ended up driving Kris to the emergency room in her new car. 
I think Kris would do a lot for me, too.  She buys me thoughtful "just because" presents and keeps my dog and cats well stocked in toys, treats, and aqua filters.  She even thinks of my paintings when it's time to give othters special presents. 
This is a painting of Kris' friend, Mindy's, dog Bailey. 
Bailey was a girly dog and loved very much.  Kris imagined the painting to be in pinks and purples. The background was originally lavendar. I thought I had finished the painting, but it didn't feel done. One day, I took it with me "to finish" at another friend's house.  I was inspired by the bright colors that her very girly children were wearing and put a few brighter colors in the background.