Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kristopher - original painting

I have had the pleasure of seeing Kristopher in the ring and out of the ring for a number of years now.   He is a lovely dog with a kind heart.

When his owner approached me to ask me to paint him, I was thrilled.  I love painting.   It is always an honor to paint for someone.

So, we took some photos and then came the tough job of picking which photos best reflected the true Kristopher.  Below are the reference photos.   The head study photo I took.  The movement shot was done by the official show photographer (who was quite kind and permitted me to use her photo for this painting.)   Thank you to Dale for trusting me with her boy.

Here is what Kristopher's owner told me about him:

Kristopher is a once in a lifetime dog.. He has accomplished so much more than I had ever
hoped for. The thrill of winning the breed at Westminster was overwhelming.  He has continued his winning ways by taking back to back specialties in Seattle this past weekend and on to a group 2 at the all breed show on Sunday.  He now has 12 Specialty wins and has won it 5 times in Seattle.  
He also has 3 champion offspring and 6 more are pointed.  His youngest boy took a 5 point major in Seattle at 15 months at only his 3rd show. He is aging well and looks so distinquished with his graying muzzle.  I am so very proud of this dog.. I co-bred this litter with Ginny Swanson and it is a miracle that he is even here. When the litter was 7 weeks old they contracted parvo.  Kristopher was one of the sickest, the vet did not expect him to make it but he had a tremendous will to live and look at him now. In fact the whole litter survived to the amazement of the vet.  He is a Silver Grand Champion and close to getting his gold.  That will be a nice end to his career.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A painting of Guinness for Celeste

A dear friend, Celeste, has been so patiently waiting for the painting of her beloved horse, Guinness.   He had been a member of her family for many years.

When the painting was in process, Celeste shared this with me about Guinness (she was mentioning the person who owned him prior to her):

I bought him when he was nine.   He had been on a friend's farm from a youngster, trained and shown by her.  So, she knew him well.  That is probably why he was so hot and forward as that was they way she liked her horses.  He was an exciting ride and the kindest horse I ever knew on the ground.

People who own horses understand they are like a big dog.  They know who you are and love you.  When I was growing up in Texas, I had a friend who had gotten a working horse from a cattle ranch.  The horse's owner passed away out on the range and the horse stayed with him until someone came and found them.

The bond between a horse and owner can be as close as with any other animal.

The reference photo is shown above.  This photo was taken before our wonderful digital cameras and was a 3" x 5" photo.   Guinness had gotten into the house.    No surprise there (he sounds like he was quite the character)!  My challenges were to overcome the lighting caused by the flash and to see his bone structure hidden  under his halter.    It all came together and I can't wait for Celeste to see the painting in person!

Thank you Celeste for having me paint your special boy! 

Dog Days of Summer

It was great fun judging this art show.   The finalists have now been identified so it is safe to post them.  Thank you to the Brandon Gallery for having me judge your show.

The opening reception will be this Saturday, August 6, 2016 from 5 pm - 7 pm.   I am very much looking forward to meeting the artists.  Hope to see you there!

Brandon Gallery, Fallbrook, CA

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

I had the honor today of judging the artwork submitted for "Dog Days of Summer" at the Brandon Gallery.  The show included animal art that not only included dogs, but cats, and a few chickens!

When arriving at the gallery, the amount of artwork that had been submitted was shocking.   When driving to the gallery I thought, the pieces will just jump out at me like at the dog show.  Sometimes that dog enters the ring and you just can't take your eyes off of it.  Well, I felt like I had a ring full of blue ribbons once I started looking at the work.

The artwork was lined against almost every wall and then several deep on the floor along the walls.   Holy Smokes!!    I walked through all the art several times just enjoying the pieces.   My goal wasn't to try and pick the placements at first sight, I just simply wanted to take in all the work.   There were 2 dimensional pieces, 3 dimensional pieces, photographs, and one very unique multi-media piece.  There was work that was traditional, some whimsical, some very modern and from all mediums.   WOW - the body of work was awesome and all from local artists.  UNBELIEVABLE!

I don't want to give away what happened next as choices were made and why.  Nor can I show what pieces won.   On August 6th I'll be at the gallery to meet the artists and discuss my choices.   I can't wait.    All I can say is WOW - some really amazing work.  I loved my Best in Show.  Gosh, I loved all the placements.   So often I hear a dog judge say to me when I exit the ring, on any given day - any of these fine dogs could have been the winner.   Those thoughts circled in my mind as I looked at all the art before me.    So many winners and I could only pick one.

Thank you to the Brandon Gallery for trusting in me to judge the work.  It was truly my honor!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A painting of Alec

What a fun painting!   After taking photos of Alec for this painting, his owner kept going back to two photos she was having trouble deciding between.   So, we did the obvious - painted both.

It truly was difficult to choose the best reference photos for this painting.  Alec is so photogenic.  

When we decided to use both photos, I wanted to really set the laying down photo away from the head study so I played around with the bottom of the painting.  Finally, layering some middle value ultramarine blues did the trick.   The fun thing about pastels is that there are so many different techniques that an artist can employ without having to wait for the paint to dry.

Here is a little background on Alec from his loving owner:

BISS GCh./Can. Ch Courtwood Going My Way. 
Alec received his name on they way home from Sue Hahnen's home when he was a puppy.  My son and I talked about all kinds of names and my son said he sure looks like a smart aleck of a puppy; the name fit perfectly.  He became my smart "Alec" and the keeper of my heart. 
Sandra Kraft
Thank you to Sandra for having me paint her special boy and to her dear friend, LeeAnn, who was the mastermind behind our project.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pilgrim and Yosemite

This is a painting of a dog that I've know his entire life.    He lived a full life, but not matter how long our pets live, it just is never long enough.

Before he passed, his owner had planned this painting.  I had a file of photos of him.   I never expected I'd be painting him when I did.   I've asked his owner to share about the Pilgrim, Yosemite and the painting.   Here are her words...

About 30 years ago, I made my first trip to Yosemite National Park.  I was so taken by the beauties of nature, that I thought I was in Heaven.  The rock formations, the waterfalls, the wildlife and the vegetation, all made a beauty that made me want to spend my life in eternity in Yosemite.
Pilgrim came into my life just over 10 years ago.  He was my BEST friend for nearly 10 years.  He was beautiful, but more than that, he was the true meaning of love.  He made me laugh and smile on a daily basis.  He laid by my side day and night.  He greeted me with smiles when I went away and had to leave him home.  He cried a sound that said "I'm so glad you're home!"  When he gave me kisses, I told him "I love you" and he emitted a sound that said "I love you, too!"  Only someone that loves a dog as I did Pilgrim would believe and understand that.

When Pilgrim was about 9 years old, I began to think about a portrait I wanted painted of Pilgrim at Rainbow Bridge.  I searched for a bridge where I might be able to take a photo of him.  I could not find anything appropriate. I always knew that when I lost him, I would have him cremated and have his ashes taken with mine to Yosemite.  He died without warning.  I told my artist friend, Dawn Secord, that I'd like to have the portrait at the Bridge include Yosemite.  I sent her many photos of Pilgrim and the awesome pictures I had taken at the park. She chose a photo I had taken at Tunnel View, where the view is breath taking.  El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and the Valley fill the scene with so much more. She painted it with such precision and added the block walkway for Pilgrim to cross over into Heaven with a rainbow and sun filtering through the clouds.  It is TRULY an AWESOME portrait.  Tears fill my eyes when I look at it.  It depicts the feeling I have for the place that will welcome me and those I love.  No words can describe the beauty I see and feel when I look at this painting.

Thank you, SO MUCH, Dawn Secord, for capturing my feelings for a place and a friend that I love most!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Duet - Portrait of an Irish Setter

I was commissioned to paint Duet last year.   I'd taken some photos of her in Georgia when I was there last April.

Her owner really enjoys the playful side of Duet - who is quite charming.   Knowing Duet's portrait was to focus on the fun loving Duet, we took photos of her playing with toys, chasing toys, watching toys - anything and everything with toys.  We just didn't get the perfect reference photo.  My camera had been malfunctioning on me and the focus was delayed.  So frustrating to be out of town and having your equipment fail.

Some months passed and I was sent a number of new photos of Duet.  One caught my attention immediately.  Duet's head was cocked a bit to the side and there was a sweet yet slightly mischievous look in her eye.  I contacted her owner and we both agreed - we had our reference photo.

Duet lives in the in a lovely area with flowers blooming all around her.  When asked about the background for the painting, her owner told me, "She also is know for running through the flowers…mostly lavender, white and purple lilacs and white and pink peonies."  It just was perfect to add some fun girly colors in the background.

It was great fun painting Duet and capturing that rollicking side of the Irish Setter that they represent.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cliff Drive Santa Barbara - original pastel painting

The show is just around the corner!  If you are in Southern California - please come by!  Would love to see you.

The painting featured below is titled Cliff Drive Santa Barbara.  It is an original pastel painting and is available.

40th Annual Art Exhibition and Sale

California Images & History

April 22, 23, & 24, 2016

Civic Center Plaza, 245 E. Bonita Ave., San Dimas, CA
Celebrating 40 years, the San Dimas Festival of Arts 2016, California Images & History begins on Friday, April 22 with a Premier Opening & Reception at 6pm and will continue through Sunday afternoon, April 24, until 4pm.
Previously, the Festival proudly showcased artists who reflected the ‘Old West Attitude.’ Beginning last year, the Spring show adopted a new theme: California Images & History. This change better highlights the vast diversity of the state with art that exemplifies the splendors of the coast, vast mountain ranges, flourishing wine country, and Hollywood.
This year the Festival will feature their 2nd Annual Plein Air Event on Saturday, April 23rd. The public is invited to view a select group of artists set up their easels and paint San Dimas’ picturesque downtown area, including the Historic Walker House, Martin House (located on the corner of Bonita and Walnut). For the Plein Air landscape purists, painting will also take place at the last year’s location at the Tzu Chi Foundation during the same time as the downtown event. (The 100-acre campus is located at the end of Valley Center adjacent to ViaVerde.) More info below... 

Sunday, April 24th will feature the Quick Draw at 1:00 pm in which participating artists have one hour to complete a work of art with the prying eyes of the public. It’s a frenzied and exciting event in which artists reveal their talents, and good humor under a big white tent. At 2:15 pm the Quick Draw Auction begins and all the art that was created al fresco is auctioned off.
 The California Images & History event will begin on Friday evening, April 22 with a Premier Opening Reception at 6pm.
Viewing of all the unique and original fine artwork is free of charge and open to the public on Saturday April 23, 9am–9pm, and Sunday April 24, 9am–4pm. The Friday Premier Opening Reception and the Saturday Awards Dinner requires a reservation.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Second Painting of Finn

This is another commission of Finn. The first one I did was the recent post of Finn on point for his owner. She had commissioned me to do a second painting, a head study, for her which was to be a gift to be given to Finn's breeders.
The second painting was finished and shipped as a surprise to the recipients, Helen and Walt. I asked Cristin to share a little bit about Finn's breeders and Finn. Here is her story, I met Helen and Walt about 5 or so years ago when I decided it was time for another big red dog in my life. Helen had a litter of puppies that I went down to see as well as her kennels. Unfortunately, all the puppies were spoken for so I had to be placed on the waiting list for the next litter. About a year later, the new litter had arrived. I went down to see all the puppies and actually thought I'd want Finn's brother as Finn was just the sleepy less active one and his brother was up and all over the place. Little did I know Finn was just fooling me that day as he has certainly lived up to rollicking side of the breed description. From then forward Helen and Walt have been wonderful friends. They introduced us to the show world as well as the field and have taught me lots about the breed. So as Finn was the reason I got to know Helen and Walt, as Finn adores them both, and lastly since he was her first grand champion I decided to have his portrait done for her as a thank you for my lovely boy and the years of friendship. 
Thank you Cristin for having me paint your special boy.  It was my pleasure!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Callie's baby girl, Skipper.

Several years ago I painted two lovely young but mature Irish Setters. I'd photographed them in Wisconsin while traveling. When I gave the painting to the dog's owner, she was as excited as I was with the painting. Some years have passed and that lovely young female has grown into an amazing adult and had her first litter of pups. To my delight the owner had me paint the tiny pup she kept from this litter. I'm not sure I can express the joy in my heart to have painted the pup after painting its dam. I've asked the human mom to share the story of this special pup. Here is what she shared:

As you may know, this was my first litter ever, born during an ice storm when we were without power. Skipper was the name of my childhood dog, a boxer my parents got as a puppy about the same time I was born, so we grew up together. I had never even thought about naming another dog after him. Because this litter was immediately dubbed the Squeakers , my daughters were amusing themselves during the very long day (Callie took a 5 hour whelping pause after the third puppy!) giving all the puppies baby names that started with "Squ" but when purple girl girl was born, for some reason, Jen looked at her and said Skipper. Even though she was the seventh puppy to be born out of 10, I just had the most visceral reaction to her. I swear she crawled over to me as soon as we put her down after drying her off. For 8 weeks I had to force myself not to bond with her in case she wasn't the pick bitch!

Anyway, my other daughter Jessica took this picture of her the first day her eyes were fully opened. She was just starting to figure out how to focus them. She was the first to escape the whelping box and still believes the top of the pool table in the family room is her private perch. Her registered name is Carillon By Candlelight because we had no power the day she was born.

I love the painting! Not only because it is my sweet Skipper but also because it is a wonderful way to remember the joy of my first litter. Thank you so much.

Thank you Carolyn for having me paint your dogs.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A painting of Reilly - Celebrating his lifetime ranging from a puppy to a veteran

When Marsha first approached me to paint Reilly I was excited.  Her love of this dog flowed through her every word.   After several discussions, Marsha decided for the painting to reflect her life with Reilly.  The painting would show Reilly as a pup, as a 5 year old dog and lastly as he is today - 13 years old.

Marsha began sending me photos of Reilly which were compiled in a folder as I do with each commission.   She had some really wonderful photos.   Many of our conversations were on line via email and one day I decided to go to her Facebook page.  While enjoying her photos of Reilly I came across one Marsha had taken of her new puppy, Bentley.  In the front of this photo was Reilly - and I began laughing out loud - Reilly had actually photo bombed the photo of Bentley.  

There is something special when you are moved by a photo like I was of the Reilly photo bombing.   My wheels started spinning and I thought, heck, why not use the photo bomb photo in the painting! So, I assembled a collage of photos for Marsha to consider for the painting I was creating to celebrate the life of Reilly.   She LOVED the photo bomb idea - much to my delight.  

I asked Marsha if she would like to share a little bit about Reilly with me and this is what she told me:
     Reilly is the gentlest, happiest setter soul I every had or have known - from the time he was a pup through today as a senior dog.   He drew a lot of attention because of these traits and made a lot of friends where we lived in LA and Atlanta.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew him.   He just has a way to rein you in.  I think it is his gentle soul which is reflected in his eyes.   Some of the neighbors refer to him as the neighborhood ambassador - people I don't know!

Having lost a dog myself that lived to almost 13 in the past few years, this painting of Reilly really touched my heart.   How is it that one day they are this precious bubbly bundle of puppy joy and the next day this white face looks loving you in your eyes.  Time is truly but a vapor.  Enjoy every day with your dogs as the days fly by far too quickly.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A painting of Vinnie - English Springer Spaniel

This is Vinnie.   His owner lost him when he was 6 years old.   It is always so emotional for me to paint a dog that passed at a young age.  Having lost a young dog, I so understand the dreams and memories that will never come to be because time has cruelly been taken from you.
I asked her to share Vinnie's story and this is what she told me.  

It's so difficult to loose a dog. They are our pets but they are more than that - they indeed are a piece of our hearts! Vinnie was one very special guy - he was my shadow, my constant companion; he truly felt he was there for me and to make me smile (and at times laugh hysterically!) and I lost him way too soon! As I have been trying to understand why my grief has been so deep, I realized he was the most emotionally aware dog I had ever met or even heard of!! He wanted to please me and make me happy at all times - I could never cry - he would climb up me and be such a joker kissing me and such that every single time, he would turn my tears around!

We did SO much together - not just dog shows and earning titles in so many venues, but Vinnie was a very talented therapy dog! An example of his deep awareness was reviled to me one day during one of our therapy dog visits. We visited with children and he loved his kids!! A mother approached us with her 2 daughters - the older one instantly got down on her knees to pet and play with Vinnie - the younger was afraid, and hid behind her mom. We could coax her out and Vinnie as usual, would present his head to say "Hi". She would shriek and jump behind mom. After a couple of times, with us assuring her he wouldn't hurt her - Vinnie fell board flat on the floor on his side!! Both mom & the girls were all asking what happened? What's wrong with him? And I truthfully did not know! He then lifted his eye to mine and as our eyes met, I knew! When I recovered, my response to them was that nothing at all was wrong with Vinnie - he laid down flat on his side so she would know he had no intention of harming her and that he wanted her to come and pet him. And she did - and mom shared with me she had such a fear of dogs he was the first dog she had ever petted! 

I miss him dearly - but am thrilled to be able to have his most incredible portrait to keep forever.

Thank you for having me paint Vinnie for you Veronica.   He was so special.  

Reference Photos
Click here to see commission information

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finn - Painting of an Irish Setter

Here is a painting I've been working on since mid December.   I try to work on several  paintings simultaneously, going from painting to painting, to keep my eyes fresh.  It is a great way to proof what I am doing with each painting.   While working on this painting, I had three paintings in process; a Boxer, this Irish and a Springer Spaniel (that is very close to being completed).

A lovely lady named Christin had left a message on my phone about her dog, Finn, and wanted me to paint him.  It is so heartwarming to be contacted by someone who wants me to paint their dog.   I don't think it will ever be less exciting than it was for my first commission.
The initial discussion for this painting was great, the potential collector was excited, and I awaited the opportunity to meet her dog in Georgia.   We exchanged cell phone numbers and made plans to meet months later.   Zipping ahead to Georgia - I met Finn - he was GORGEOUS.   His photos were taken and we were all set for me to go through the photos when I returned to California.

Since Finn is also a hunting dog, Christin wanted to send me some hunting photos to be considered while going through all his reference photos.   She sent me the photos, and I have to say, they were really fabulous photos.   We went through the process of considering what touched her heart about the photos while I looked at each photo as an artist and compositionally.   In the end, we both loved this hunting photo and knew we'd found the perfect photo for his painting.

Upon asking, here is what Christin shared with me about Finn:

Finn is a sweet fun loving Irish setter.  While his human mommy took him home to be a loved member of the family with no intent of showing him, this gorgeous boy found his way into the show ring.  Showing only occasionally, he was still able to obtain his grand championship and finish out last year in the top 25.  But this sweet boy is not all show, his real love is being out in the field.   He's an avid hunter, even fancying himself a hound when his favorite quarry, birds, are not available seeking out rabbits, squirrels and even deer to chase.  Above all he loves spending time with his human pack joining in whatever activity they are involved in.

Thank you to Finn's family for having me paint him.  He is a really an awesome dog and painting him was my pleasure.
Finn in the Field
Primary Reference Photo

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A painting of Windsor is just finished

I met Windsor's parents last year when Norah approached me to paint their "boxer".  Of course I was thrilled - boxers have such expressive faces.  What I wasn't prepared for was to meet such a spectacular dog.   Not only was he gorgeous, he had a wonderful temperament.   
We took a number of photos of him at that time, but Jonathan had a fabulous photo that he'd already taken of Windsor.  When he sent me the photo - there was no question - no doubt - that was the reference photo to use.

If you look at the reference photo at the bottom of this post you'll see I've made a number of changes.  I dropped the fence line so it would not give a break in the middle of his neck nor in the middle of the composition.  I've also softened the area behind Windsor's head to keep the focus on Windsor and not the background.   

One big change in the painting was the amount of light and reflection I've added to his eyes that did not exist in the reference photo.   It is always great to have an exceptional photo as reference, but that is only reference - a road map to painting that dog.  

As an artist, I have to know what to emphasize, what to eliminate, what to soften and what to strengthen.   Also, compositionally, I want the painting to keep the viewer in the painting and wanting to keep looking and enjoying.  Isn't that what we enjoy about going to a gallery - looking at the art and getting caught up in a painting?  I hope you enjoy viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.

I've asked the Bonwit's to share some information on Windsor:

Silver Grand Champion Hallmark’s Mystical Marvel

2014 Top 20 Boxer
Sire:  Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, SOM
Dam:  CH Renno’s TKO’s Izzy My Daddy, DOM
Grandsires:  “Loki” and “Bosco”

     Windsor is the fifth generation Top 20 Boxer in his pedigree that is charged with a long line of renowned Producers of Merit and Top 20 Boxers.  This magnificent boxer finished his Championship at 10 months of age and then went on to win 42 Best of Breed competitions plus multiple group placements during only ten months competing as a Special.
     His sire, Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, aka "Danny” won the Top 20 in 2011.    And his grandsire, GCH Duba-Dae’s Who’s Your Daddy, aka “Bosco” won the Top 20 in 2009.
Other Top 20 Qualifiers in Windsor’s pedigree include CH Capri’s Woods End Spellcaster, aka “Loki”;  CH Woods End Crown Sable, aka “Tucker”;  CH Rosend’s Key Largo, aka “Bogie”;  CH Jems Jack of Diamonds, aka “Jackson”;  and CH Bayview Strides Ahead, aka, “Strider”.
     Windsor is a very loving, playful, and inquisitive spirit who is now happily retired to Stud and living with his adoring family in Huntington Beach, California.
Jonathan and Norah Bonwit
Brightwater Boxers
Huntington Beach, California