Animal Portraits

“Portaits” might be slightly aggrandizing. Painting likenesses of animals is a lot of fun and not nearly as demanding as painting a portrait of a human being. That scruffy little pup above is “Justice”, with whom I share living quarters and who is my best TV-viewing buddy. He actually belongs to my granddaughter, but I feed him, let him out in the yard morning and night, and take him to the Gallery when I am sitting there. He barks at the visitors but so far, no one seems to mind. Art lovers are, for the most part, animal lovers too.

So last Saturday a week ago, when I was gallery-sitting, I painted three new animal portraits; the Justice above, on 11×14 panel, and two small ones on 6×6 blocks.

First was Grace, my crooked-jawed sweetheart who likes to squint at me. Her life apparently started out pretty hard, but I swooped into the Manchester Animal Shelter the very day she arrived there–back in August of 2010, and she has finally come to believe that my home is her home. When I paint, she comes up to me, reaches up on her hind legs, pats at my leg and speaks in her inimitable cat language, asking what am I doing and why.

So despite her tomboy appearance, she is the sweetest cat in the household. (Her only competition is the white goddess cat Isis, of whom I have spoken and painted before.)

My second 6×6 features Nora, an akita that belonged to an artist friend but who died a few months ago. I only met her once. She was unbelievably plush.

While these are paintings inspired by the animals, a few months ago I finished a true portrait. I never met this fellow but had a selection of photographs to use as a reference. I spent many hours on him:

Maximillian, from the point of view of the mouse.

After putting my animals aside, I worked on a few problem paintings, one of which is the Wells Harbor tarp painting from only a few weeks ago. I am now totally happy with it:

The big fixes were to the doors of the red shed and to the background edifices, but I spruced up the little things too, “finishing” in the best sense of that word. For the sake of comparison, here is the previous version:

With all the fixin’s and trimmings applied to make this painting more presentable, I never messed with the tarp except to increase the contrast between light and shadow. The tarp was pretty much “premier coup” or done at the first stroke. It works like that sometimes. Other times, I can do over five times before I get it right.

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