“Venus” a.k.a “Sooty” – Labradorable

Sooty (real name Venus) belonged to a dear friend for whom she was his best friend and confidante.   Sadly Sooty passed from this world suddenly in the middle of last year leaving her owner understandably bereft.

It has taken Anthony quite a while to send through his favourite photo of Sooty so I can record an artistic image for him to enjoy and remember her by and because she isn’t with us anymore, the photo choices are whatever he had available on his phone.

This one showing Sooty on the front porch of her former home was not a very high res image and much of the detail of her coat is guess work.   Nevertheless, it shows her as a characteristically gentle soul who loved her master and enjoyed bringing him toys for him to throw to her.

Teddy is obviously a favourite toy and hopefully Anthony still has it to prop up on the shelf over which her picture will hang.

Farewell Sooty – you touched many lives but we will see you again soon I know when we can continue to run free and play together.

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Alan and His Best Buddies

Alan lives on a farm at Mt Barney, a beautiful part of South East Queensland which he shares with his wife Sylvia and his two pals Rex and Wally.

Alan endured a horrific accident some years ago when he was crushed by a falling tree and went through excruciating pain and months of rehabilitation while he recovered, but eventually he was able to return to work and build his new home and farm in this idyllic location.   While the trauma and long term damage never goes away,  life is always made easier when you have a great wife and family – and especially if you own pets.

Alan’s two furry friends certainly make cuddle time even better and this painting captures him in a thoughtful moment sitting on his veranda at the top of the steps while the dogs clearly enjoy spending time with their master.

Commissioned by Sylvia as a gift to him for Christmas 2017, this painting is a special thank you to him for his strong resolve, tenacity and endurance – and especially his love for her and his children.

Not to mention Rex and Wally.

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Two Black Labs – Guide Dog Raffle

I was invited to support the Guide Dogs stand at the last Dog Lovers Show at the Brisbane Showgrounds back in November and provided an animal portrait prize as the major fundraiser for them.   A lovely lady called Claire contacted me a week later to say she had won the prize and was very excited about what it might mean.   She lives in the northern suburbs of Brisbane and at my request sent through a number of photos for my consideration.

The prize was for a picture of one animal of the winner’s choice but Claire has two beautiful black Labradors – one is around 2 years old and the other is an almost grown up puppy.   She couldn’t decide and neither could I, so I’ve gifted her with a picture of both.

I used two photos to come up with the picture attached – I hope she likes it.

Black Labs are flavour of the month it seems – I am starting another one soon.

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Most Successful Exhibitor Award

Hello everyone – out-of-left-field, this award has come my way!

When I learned the annual Canungra Show was a couple of weekends away, I toyed with entering some of my paintings.   Believing they were already well known, I nearly didn’t bother.   Of course they are only known to those who know my website and on the basis I wouldn’t be boring everyone to tears I decided to bravely submit a few pieces that were already framed.   I also asked a few clients if I could borrow back their commissioned pieces.   At the last minute I had “Molly” framed as there was a Monochromatic category and she would be perfect for that.

Duly done, Friday lunchtime saw me lining up to register my pieces.   I saw some lovely work being submitted by truly gifted artists and was pleased the standard was high.

Judging took place on Friday night before the show opened on Saturday.   I wasn’t able to get to Canungra before 2.00pm on Saturday and when I did the show was fully underway.

It’s interesting the nervousness I felt as I entered the art exhibit building – it was like being a small child again and approval being so important and risking failure – knowing adulthood is attained through that experience.   I didn’t feel very adult to be honest.

Nothing prepared me for the shock when I turned the corner and saw nearly everyone’s favourite painting “Deejay” front and centre on the awards board with the ribbon displaying “Most Successful Exhibitor”.   That’s when surrealism clicked in.   Obviously I had to see which of my painting awards constituted that amazing outcome.   As I rushed around trying to find them all – it turns out they all did!

If this is my 15 minutes of fame…….I will savour the moment for a little bit longer.   Yay!!!!

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“Edmund” – Maine Coon

Edmund (Ed or Eddie) the Maine Coon is really a German Shepherd in disguise.

Massive build, powerful presence and with marvellous, rich colouring, he is to the cat world what the Shepherd is to the dog world.   A magnificent, intelligent and super-aware animal and quite the king of his realm.

At 10kg he’s naturally no feather and yet his gentle nature and ability to sense when things aren’t right with me or I’m stressed is simply amazing.   A soft paw on my arm taking me completely by surprise or his big face peering into my eyes as I wake in the morning after a restless night is gentleness akin to the brush of a feather.

Big and robust in size, he’s the most patient and tolerant of all my cats and puts up with my kitten Molly giving him the hardest of times.   She can be frankly annoying as she pesters him, tussles with him, ambushes him, uses him as a high jump.    All the while he puts up with her and in so doing, leaves her in no doubt that while she thinks she’s in control, he is absolutely her hero.

He was the first of  my cats to be painted because he is also the first member to arrive of my current cat family – the others all came after he did.   Plus, he’s also the most devoted.

Edmund – the cat you have when you can’t have a dog!

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Doberman Pinscher “Rory”

The love of my Brother-In-Law Eric – apart from my sister to whom he is married – is his dog!

Rory is a beautiful, slightly crazy, full of life, engaging, Doberman Pinscher.   My sister Trudi asked me to portray him in a painting but because it was intended to be a surprise for Eric’s birthday in September I was unable to post it until now.

She was able to send me some photos he had on his computer without him knowing.   None were really good enough for what I needed and I had to sneak a photo when I was visiting with them earlier in the year.   Taken through a glass door without Rory knowing or he would have bounded up to meet me and with poor light, this was the resulting painting – I’ve had to add detail in where there was none in the photo.   I hope Eric will like it.

I include another painting of Rory – he appears as “Golden Velvet” in another post because of the low evening light on the couch where he was resting giving a rich velvety affect.   This too was not a particularly clear image but the result is quite dramatic.   What do you think?

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“Jackson” – angel in disguise

Oh, how we miss Jackson.   Those who knew him felt something special in his presence – I personally think he was from another realm and I’m sure his owner agrees.   Mention his name and we all feel our energy alter somehow.

Jackson – a striking Samoyed/Golden Retriever cross, passed away a year ago today on 11 October 2016.   He was such a physically attractive animal, but also in another way – it was like he was a visitor from some higher place and I for one, certainly felt it.

I started the painting of Jackson when he was still alive after learning of his serious illness.    I had fortunately taken a photo of him a few years earlier when he was a regular ‘colleague’ in the complex where I worked and was resting under the Jacaranda tree just outside my office.  However, even though I started his portrait when I found out he was sick I couldn’t do anymore – maybe I didn’t want to think about what was coming.

12 months since his death have passed – while he was never “my dog” – in a way, he was.   I worked on his image – checked and rechecked not only the line and form but the essence of his character and personality.   I got into his psyche and I admit I cried when he died – I still get emotional remembering him.

How much more so the pain of his loss for his owner, Sonya?   Farewell beautiful Jackson……and acknowledgement to you Sonya……of your grief.

Prepare a place for us Jackson where you are – if you would?

We are also headed your way.

 

“Bear” and the amazing view

Dear visitors….you will already have seen my original Bear with grassy background and in that post I mentioned I wasn’t that happy with the very boring background I settled for because the original photo reference had the backside of a rather large four wheel drive dominating the top right corner.   I went for a safe and I have to say sorry choice of background because I wanted to see the finished work.   Haste is never a good thing and while it was OK, it most certainly wasn’t startling.

Bear lives with one of the most amazing views on the western escarpment of Tamborine Mountain and the vast valley below stretches all the way to the Great Dividing Range.   In Bear’s case he enjoys having Flinder’s Peak as a reference point and this peak is included in the new background.   You can also make out what appears to be a horse training track – the area is dotted with horse properties and horse training facilities dominate all over that valley.

Anyway….I’m leaving the old post and the new one just to show it is OK to change one’s mind.   I hope you prefer the new background as do I.

Border Collie – “Bear”

It seems that lots of pets I know are called Bear.

I have a black cat called Bear, I know two other dogs called Bear besides this one – they all have something in common – they’re very shaggy or woolly and generally mostly black.

This particular Bear belongs to a man who lives near where I work and when I met Bear for the first time, I knew he would be my next portrait.   He is such a charmer!

He’s a much loved family member – no reference to ‘mere animal’ please!   As far as his owner is concerned Bear is human and subsequently treated very well.   Bear obviously realises this and happily sat and ‘smiled’ for the camera when I took a series of photos.

The rest is history.   I didn’t know whether to copy the background Bear had in the photo which I didn’t like – a rather large rear end of a four-wheel drive dominated top right corner – or add in an enigmatic one – I ended up with enigmatic.    Hope it doesn’t look too twee.   I’m thinking however upon reflection I might add in the amazing view Bear enjoys out the back of his home – down into the valley below.   So don’t be surprised if the background changes.

Bear loves bringing twigs and branches home – his favourite toys are bits of wood, so Bear has a semi-chewed example in front of him in the painting.

“Bozo” – The Best Man

Bozo the Alpine Goat is no longer with us having gone to Goat Heaven back in April this year.   A very sad day for his owners but he was old and life just wasn’t fun anymore.

Bozo had his 15 minutes of fame however when he was “Best Man” at a local wedding a few years ago.   He dutifully carried out his tasks – the full details of which I have yet to learn – and then right at the end – as if it was payment for a job well done – he ate the bride’s bouquet!

Possibly he was hungry…….and those flowers sure looked tasty.

Bozo is painted with acrylic paint from a small photo with minimal detail so I needed to create information where little was to be had.   Acrylic paint is a new medium for me and one that requires me to work quickly to ensure the paint does not dry on the brush.   Having fallen in love with the fluidity and playfulness of oil paint many years ago this stretching of my skills and learning to make quick painterly decisions has been a good thing.   Of course the main advantage of acrylic paint is the fact that it can be painted over quickly and mistakes speedily remedied.   It can also be hung the same day – something oil paintings don’t permit.

Self-portrait – a study

Usual problem – I couldn’t sleep so decided to get up and work on another painting, except when I entered the studio, the work on the easel was almost finished and I wanted to try something new.   Looked in the mirror and thought – self portrait!   No make-up, hair all messy and me looking the way mostly only I get to see myself.   Started around 2.00am and finished around 5.30am.   Several coffees later I stopped and I think I’ll leave it as a study only.   The knitted jumper is only just indicated with lines but that’ll do.   Don’t know if I actually want a portrait of me on the wall anyway.

It is always a challenge I think to be very objective when painting the self – we don’t see ourselves at all as others do and tend to exaggerate faults (or worse hide them) so painting every line and wrinkle and dark circle had to be exactly as I saw them.

Wasn’t as scary as I thought posting to Facebook originally – although a friend thought I was very brave.

I thought it was cathartic!

 

 

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