Friday, March 16, 2012

"The Incident"... Based on True Events

Here is a recently completed portrait of my 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel, Bella. I titled it "The Incident," and it is based off of something that happened when she was still a 6-month-old puppy. She actually hasn't gotten into my paints since then, thankfully! (knock on wood...)

"The Incident" - 18x10 - oil on linen

I had several reasons for re-arranging this painting vs. using the original photos of Bella caught in the moment (you can view those pictures here). First of all, the original pictures were blurry. Secondly, I wanted to at least start the painting from life. Now that she is a little older and better trained, she is actually able to sit for a while (she works for treats). Third, the camera distorted the perspective, making anything coming forward in the picture (such as the dog's legs) appear too large. This is something I always have to be very careful about when working from photo references.

Fourth but most importantly: composition. According to my art dictionary (yes, I learn a lot from the web), "Composition is the term used for the arrangements of the elements in a painting. A successful composition draws in the viewer and pulls their eye across the whole painting so that everything is taken in and finally settles on the main subject of the painting" ( The composition of a painting is usually what draws someone in to it in the first place. Even if you don't know much about art, you can usually tell whether or not you like a painting, and composition can be a determining factor. None of the original photos of Bella would work for a strong composition. I wanted to make a painting that is more than just a cute picture; rather, it should be a work of art that stands on its own, regardless of subject matter. To me, that is what makes art stand the test of time. The artist should have a clear vision for the painting, not just in the subject matter but in the way it is executed. This is where I've been learning the most lately -- being absolutely intentional and about each and every step of the painting (like a game of chess, I suppose) -- and I think my work is much better for it. Anyway, I really enjoyed creating this piece. Here is a close-up:



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