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.  

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