Big Bushy “Bear” – study in black

Bear was a loner when he came into my life.   Formerly belonging to a couple who could no longer care for him the way he needed to be looked after as he is quite a senior citizen now, when common sense decreed he needed to be re-homed, it was me who won the prize.

He is now around 20 years of age, yet remains agile and active, has a beautiful glossy black coat and a great appetite which maintains his solid weight around 7kgs – which for an old cat is just amazing.  He’s also the most vocal of all my fur babies and often sounds like a cross between a parrot and a dog when racing around the house – the weirdest thing!   It cracks everyone up when he does it – no one believes he’s the age he is.

I’ve done a number of studies of Bear because he’s so black and detail is so hard to capture – I keep looking for that magic formula.   His bright yellow eyes glowing out of his round chubby face are the only way I can tell front from back at a distance and even close up sometimes.   But in the sunlight – what first seems like an amorphous mass of black fur is in fact a rich mahogany undercoat with platinum highlights defining his proud shape with a rich depth of colour.

I will do a proper portrait of Bear one day but this was a lot of fun just playing around with sunlight and shadow and introducing Bear’s toy mouse for a bit of additional interest.

 

“Mia”

Mia’s is the granddaughter of my my friend Ngaire.   She waltzes around in her grandmother’s tiny apartment as if the world is her stage.   Beautiful skin, twinkling green eyes, rosy cheeks and a tonne of energy, Mia had me wound around her little finger and I simply had to portray her somehow.

Grandmother Ngaire has a couple of little dogs but they were not interested in being involved this time – and privately I think Mia was perfectly happy to be the center of attention and solo subject.

Girls are like that.   When they’re pretty and loved, they just want everyone to notice – so no competition please!

 

 

Golden Velvet – “Rory” in evening light.

Rory belongs to my brother-in-law Eric and the two make a very close pair.   I’m  not sure if it is Eric that takes Rory to the park for exercise or Rory takes Eric – no matter.   Together they prove that a dog’s best friend is man…..or woman…..or child.    Dogs already know they are great friends for humans.

Rory is quite a deep brown colour typical of the doberman breed but this image was captured late in the day as the evening atmosphere deepened to gold and orange and cast long shadows all around.   Dark brown Rory on a dark brown leather couch became a bit invisible so to enhance his cheeky face and lean musculature the hue was brightened to capture the details.

This is an ‘artsy’ piece purely done for the love of using basically only two colours – yellow and purple on a dark ground.   Just a splash of deep sienna for the reddish bits and white for the teeth and collar and we’re done!

“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!

“Angel”

Angel came into my life as a cutie running around outside her parents Indian Takeaway near the office where I work.   Her parents have recently moved here from India and she has fully integrated into the local school becoming part of the youthful energy there.   She was resting in a big armchair in the cafe while her parents served customers when I seized the opportunity to talk to her.

She happily posed for me and I quickly captured a few images to work from at home.   As it was to be a gift to her parents  I didn’t want to spoil the surprise by staying too long.

Angel with her enigmatic smile is wearing her school uniform ‘fleecy’ which she is proud to wear in her new adopted country.

Her parents were overwhelmed to receive the surprise and Angel’s portrait hangs with enormous pride on the wall in their cafe.    I think they will call their cafe after her.

“Angel’s Heavenly Food” maybe?

“Jack and Harry” – darling dogs

Jack and Harry – Jack on the left and Harry on the right – are famous.   More famous than even they know.   Their portrait has made the local paper and if a quiet introspective life was what they were pitching for – their new found fame will end that.

Jack and Harry belong to Liz – a wonderful energetic lady who has recently moved into the area.   Liz is often seen walking these two for kilometers upon kilometers and then enjoying a cup of coffee and a snack at the local Flame Tree Cafe while the dogs lap up refreshing water from a bowl provided for them.   Because they are so cute and such a part of the fabric of our community now as everyone seems to  know them and their owner – this painting was a no-brainer.

I’m not sure of their breeds – but those of you who have similar will know.   I will definitely ask Liz though and update this post.

German Shepherd “Cody” and her best friend Jay

Cody was a beautiful German Shepherd I was fortunate to meet one day during our long very hot summer this 2017 year.   With days over 40 degrees celsius every day for over two weeks during January, her owner Samantha our admin lady, brought her into the office at our pleading so she could enjoy air-conditioned comfort.   Sadly less than two weeks later she was dead due to a twisted bowel and with her advancing years and poor outcome even with surgery – she left our lives.

We all felt terribly ripped off as she was such a joy and I offered to paint a portrait of her for the owner.   She sent me two photos by email.   One of the regal Cody resting on the lawn and the other of her eldest son Jay (Cody’s best friend) embracing her.

Naturally I love animals and children together so the decision was easy.

My brother John

My brother John was heading back overseas when I pleaded with him to allow me to take some photos of him so I could do his portrait while he was away.

He’s very reserved and quiet but obeyed his big sister and graciously allowed me the opportunity.   Originally I intended to have him full length with my Chinchilla cat (which he loves) in the picture at his feet, but I felt that his finely drawn features – he’s tall and thin – needed to be more ‘front and center’ and contracted the painting somewhat.   He has expressive hands that can do and make anything and I wanted to detail those too.

His reserve in public is usually displayed by the way he folds his arms close to his body so this pose truly captures the way he is known to his family.   He also has facial attributes shared by our father and also an uncle (Ome Sjaak) on our mother’s side.   A wonderful combination of two great men from both sides of the family who have sadly passed away – but while John lives, they truly aren’t gone.

The portrait is unfinished at this stage as other commissions dominate but the image will be replaced once completed.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier “Quinn”

Quinn is a blue Staffy.   He was so called because he is the quintessential Staffy.

Staffy’s are one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia comprising two versions – the English Staffy and the American Staffy and Quinn is an English Staffy – shorter legged, more chunky and compact and one of the ‘smiling’ dog breeds, although Quinn is portrayed as the more serious regal dog he so deserves to be.   I thought I’d add in the flag just so no confusion reigned over his country of origin.   I will be painting an American Staffy commission soon and once posted it will be easy to see the differences.

Staffys come in all colours including brindle and pied.   They are great family dogs, happy, joyful and playful.   When you’ve owned a Staffy you know your heart has been stolen!

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