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!

“Gus” Gustave Augustus – the First

Silver-tipped Chinchilla, Gustave Augustus the First is a very long-winded name for a beautiful ball of fluffy white nylon.   I just call him Gus.

Fluffy white nylon is exactly what he becomes when his coat is fully grown – complete with lots of knots.   With our sub-tropical climate this is totally impractical and he gets clipped at the start of every summer.   He’s actually very slender then and looks delightfully funny with a very narrow small body and a full tail, fluffy boots and a wide semi-mane around his face – it’s a clip called the Lion Clip.   The painting shows him with his coat half-grown back.

Gus was born for no other reason than to be beautiful, because he doesn’t do much else.   Eats and sleeps – that’s it!   He’s not fond of cuddles so picking him up for a hug is a waste of time – he just squirms frantically to break free.

However – I love beautiful things anyway and with his sweet nature he has a well deserved place in my heart.

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?

Rag Doll “Splodge”

This is Chesterfield Whillowby also known as “Splodge” because his registered name is simply too long and impractical.   He is a beautiful Rag Doll/Himalayan cross and I was inspired to paint him because of his beautiful caffè latte colouring and intense blue eyes.

He’s a timid cat but became quite brave long enough for me to capture an image I could paint in my current favourite medium – pastel.

The addition of an object of his focal interest keeps the picture balanced and the eye moving around the painting.   This was pure pleasure to paint.

German Shepherd “Sultan” King of Dogs

Sultan is truly the most magnificent of dogs – a long-haired German Shepherd and a wonderfully intelligent, affectionate and striking animal.

I’ve owned a couple of gorgeous German Shepherds in my life and losing them both was very hard – all animal lovers know the crushing anguish and grief of saying a final goodbye to a wonderful animal companion whatever their breed.

Because I don’t have a life (yet) that allows for quantity time with such a loyal pet, I haven’t replaced them.   I do have cats and they are wonderful too, but there’s nothing quite like a dog.   One day I will have another Shepherd though – nothing is more certain.

Sultan is the largest piece I’ve done so far.  Pastel paintings need glass and mats for protection which makes larger works too heavy and transportation difficult therefore larger works are best done in another medium not requiring the added weight.


“Josje” and her Point of View

This is Josje, a Dutch Shepherd with beautiful brindle patterning.

Painting character hair or fur such as Josje’s is always a special challenge for the artist as the owner knows every stripe and spot and curve and line of their animal and will be especially critical if the painting misses that attention to detail.

After agonising for what seems like forever, I have finally added a background to Josje.   It was more difficult than I thought it would be.   The photo I was sent, had her sitting on a white tiled floor in the family room of her home – the lines of which provided a vanishing point above her head.   The whole picture was quite sepia in tonality including Josje herself and I wanted to play on that.

I thought about adding some enigmatic windmills in the distance (something Dutch) at the vanishing point line, but a roughed-in sketch on a photocopy looked ‘twee’ and comical.

In the end – thinking old photo edge, film strip edge, old paper edge, something sepia – I remembered the family she lives with have a building connection when I found an image of an old building plan with a ‘blueprint’ depicting some design – not clear and not relevant either except for two letters in the top left hand corner – NL.   Perfect.    That had to be Nederland.   The paper was old and stained and creased – I wondered if it might work.   The vanishing point lines of the tiles would instead become blue print lines.

An artist has to be brave sometimes and this has me out on a limb.   I hope the paper doesn’t detract from the subject Josje as she is so lovely – I can always soften the background or blot it out somehow but I just don’t want it to be ordinary and ho hum.

There always has to be a story.   Always.

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