Monday, May 29, 2023

Illustrating a new book featuring Easy Company and the dog, Draftee

I was not going to announce this yet, but hearing AMC (cable channel) is running a marathon on the American war drama series, Band of Brothers, on Memorial Day, prompted me to do so.

The series created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks is based on the real life "Easy Company". Easy Company had a medic named "Doc Roe" and his grandson is publishing books based on Easy Company during their training and following them through their participation in World War II. I've been hired to illustrate a children's picture book by Doc Roe's grandson, Chris Langlois. It is an exciting project. The children's picture book has Easy Company rescuing a young dog during a historic training mission in Georgia in 1942. The dog would be named "Draftee".
Thank you to Mr. Langlois for the honor of illustrating your book. It has been an amazing journey thus far. I can't wait to see the project finished. The following photos are promo items created for the book.
For more information on Chris Langlois and his grandfather, Doc Roe, follow him on Facebook at:

Monday, May 22, 2023

Painting of Trevor, an Irish Setter

 Trevor was a special dog.   I was thrilled when I was asked to paint him.  Many years ago, I spent time with his canine mother (then young) and was captivated by her eyes.   Years later, I was commissioned to paint her using some photos taken of her when I first saw her.   With that backstory, it is exciting that Trevor's painting is finished.

Several photos were discussed for the painting.  Ultimately, the photo with his beautiful face won the heart of his owner to be used as the primary reference photo.   

Each painting request received as a commission is an honor.  There is an incredible feeling of purpose when painting another person's pets.   Thank you Barb for having me paint Trevor.

I asked Barb to share some of information about Trevor and here are her thoughts reflecting on his life with her:


Today I said good bye to my beloved Trevor. Morrigan Party LIghts CDX, RE, AXJP, OAP, OF. He was born 4-22-07 to my heart dog Jenna and Pam Gale's Bagger. He was the 4th born from the Party litter. I named him Trevor because it means wise in Irish! He was the dog who challenged me to learn to be a better trainer, better dog owner and better person He had a love of life that was unparalleled and taught me so much about enjoying the moment, He has been my demo dog in obedience for years to show students what an awesome obedient dog you can have in a large dog. Trevor's greatest love was agility. He did not need treats or toys. He just loved the sport. Whether he missed a jump or weave entry he just loved to run. I had posted that Trevor has been sick off on on since March. My goal was to give him what ever quality of life I could give him. He still wanted to go for walks and play with his Frisbee even up until yesterday.. Today he told me he was ready to go to the rainbow bridge and be with his mom. He was such a special boy. My heart is broken

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Portrait of an Irish Setter pup by Dawn Secord

 This is a portrait painted in pastel of an Irish Setter puppy named Killesandra.    The portrait was commissioned by a daughter for her parents.  In the reference photo used, her ear was tucked under the edge of the coffee table.   I changed the ear in the painting to show the ear folded out and resting on the top of the table.  Thankfully artists are not limited by what they see or don't see.  

Killie, as she was affectionately called, was less than a year old when her life was cut short.    During that time, she had a profound impact on her family and is dearly missed.   Losing a dog at any age is horrific to those who love them.   Their lives are just not long enough.   Losing a young dog is especially difficult.

Here is a poem written by one of her family members.


You joined our family as a wee little one

Another Irish lass full of fun

We planned on taking you to dog shows

And soon were reminded that’s not how life goes

Your energy levels were hard to contain

From catching rodents, you would not refrain

You jumped really high, almost clearing the fence

We put up a screen to act as defense

You loved to run and loved to chase

The rest your head with an adorable face

We hoped to breed you to your big brother Row

And watch your puppies run to and fro

Then one day we saw something amiss

You were sick, but still had such bliss

A doggie doc said the news was not great

A shorter life would be your fate

We confirmed with our local pet vet

Knowing ten months was the best we would get

As so, with tears in our eyes we let your go

To cross the bridge colored in rainbow

You went to play with our pups in the past

Being sure for eternity you would have a blast

Losing a pet is always hard it is true

But always know we will forever love you.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Painting of Rocky - a White German Shepherd

I've been so negligent in posting finished paintings the last few years.  Not all those who commission my work want their painting posted.  Paintings of our special pets touch our hearts and I totally understand how some people would prefer for their painting to be kept private.   With that said, I don't post any paintings until I've spoken with the parties involved with the painting and know their wishes.  

This is a painting of Rocky.  He had the most amazing personality.   He never met a dog he didn't like.  He had a full life and crossed over the rainbow bridge at 15 years old.

White animals and black animals can be the most challenging to capture in a painting.  The lights and darks are already the color of the animals.  When creating highlights and shadows on animals that are black or white, I use a variety of colors - yellows, blues, purples and turquoise (subtly) to enhance the paintings.   I'll also make some areas darker than the photograph and some areas lighter.   While it is often referred to as artist liberty, it is a balance of instinct and composition.  Usually, the collar is removed from pets unless the owners prefer the collars to be left on.  With Rocky's painting, the darkness of his nose and mouth really set his face in front of his body.   Very little creative shadowing was necessary to define the distance.

He was a sweet soul and loved dearly.   I'd spent time with him in person and he was truly a special dog.  Below is the reference photo I'd taken of him for the painting.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Commissioned painting of Flannagan an Irish Setter

A gentleman was referred to me who was looking for an artist to create two paintings.  One painting was of his wife and the second painting of his dog.    Jim and I had a wonderful phone conversation and I couldn't wait to see his reference photos.   For the dog painting, his dog is an Irish Setter named Flannagan.   Personally, I am an Irish Setter owner (since 1984), know the breed well and absolutely love painting them.    I was excited to see what reference material he had for me.  

Though he sent me a wonderful selection of photos to use, he had a favorite to be considered.  The photo was one taken with a cell phone of Flannagan in his backyard.  Flannagan had been on point (as our Irish Setters do) and Flannagan was just starting to run when the photo was taken.    It was an unusual photo and called for a special background.   I started searching through my reference photos to find the ideal photo to use.   The one presented to Jim was of a field with an open gate.  There were two panels to the gate, one was missing.   It was a neat photo.   Jim gave the okay to use the photo and I added a barbed wire fence in the far background to compliment the tree line.  Jim also wanted the official flower of Kentucky to be included in the painting - the Goldenrod.  This flower was designated as the state flower of Kentucky in 1926.   History is sooo cool.   

I hope you love the painting as much as I loved painting it.   I asked Jim to share a bit about Flannigan, and this is what he told me:


CH Analainn’s Moonshadow 09-03-2019

SIRE: GCHS Cairncross Concierge With Tullane

DAM: CH Analainn’s Breathless At Ambition

 This tour de force by Dawn Secord depicts a strong, alert, and fully energetic male Irish Setter (Flanagan) on the hunt in a field of Goldenrod.

 Perhaps a good title for this painting is “SoliDOGo”. This is a play on the scientific name for the Goldenrod, which is Solidago. The Goldenrod is a flowering plant found in open areas such as meadows, prairies, and savannas.

 This painting was created from a photo taken by my daughter on her iPhone set to LIVE mode. My setter (Flanagan) was on point when the photo was taken and in the split second of LIVE mode, he took off running, resulting in this pose.

 I wish to offer my sincerest gratitude to Dawn for inspiring these paintings with her artistry. Dawn is such a pleasure to work with, offering her vast knowledge of painting throughout the entire commissioning process.

Thank you Dawn!

Portrait of Christina - Pastel Painting by Dawn Secord

This is a painting created earlier this year which was a gift from a husband to his wife.  The painting was a surprise, so I had to hide the finished painting until the time the gift was presented.  

When contacted by someone to commission a painting I always ask to see any photos to be used in order to evaluate whether or not the photos are good reference material for a painting.  Sometimes furnished photos are fabulous, sometimes they are not (and when "not" we discuss obtaining additional reference material).  To my delight, the reference photo was fabulous.   The lighting was great, the pose was great and the turn of Christina's head in the photo was ideal.   The reference photo had the subject sitting in her car.   The background would be changed to enhance the painting.  Other than that small change, I had what was needed.

The painting was done in soft pastel on board and measures 20" x 24".   I asked Jim (the husband) to share a little bit about the painting for viewers of my work.  Here is what he shared:


    Dawn Secord’s painting is created from a selfie photo taken by my daughter, of herself and her mother (Christina). I am so enamored with Dawn’s painting of Christina.  It is such a beautiful painting depicting Christina’s wonderful dual expression, being a proud mother spending fun time with her daughter and also being a mature, confident, loving woman, happily showing her emotions with her eyes and smile. 

Below is the reference photo for the painting:

Friday, November 25, 2022

Commission to paint logos on an antique truck

This truck is going to be in a parade in Texas on December 3rd.  The owner of the truck has a construction business as well as a wonderful store in Whitewright, Texas.  The store has the coolest decorating items and some furniture.  

The store, Small Town Store and Decor, reminds me of the store in Waco, Texas started by Chip and Joanna, Magnolia Farms.   We've purchased items from both stores for our remodel when we moved back to Texas.   Waco has some the BEST cupcakes on their Magnolia Farms property.   Hum, maybe the store in Whitewright could add some cupcakes too.  

Getting back on track, for this truck logo painting commission, my goal was to make the signage look old and weathered to match the antique truck.  This is video # 2 of the door painting demos.  

Please remember to subscribe to my U-Tube channel to see more videos.   To see my artwork or children's book series, here are the websites: and

Antique Truck - Painting logo on doors - in progress (video # 2) - YouTube

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Best Friends - an Oil Painting by Dawn Secord

 This painting was finished earlier this year.  It measures 40" x 48" and is oil on canvas.

The painting was allowed to dry in our barn resting on the top of our truck bed

The reference photo was taken years ago with a non professional camera using black and white film.    It was a magical photo and the amateur photographer has quite the eye.  It was an honor to be asked to paint it.   Though I had an 8 x 10 photo to work from, due to the age and quality of the photo, there was quite a lot of detail unavailable.   I scanned the photo into my computer and worked from the scan.  The scan gave me more detail, but not the detail available when working with a digital photo.   I wanted to be able to capture the emotion of the photo and not leave out detail that was unavailable in the photo.  The fencing was an interesting part of the puzzle.   It was important not to take over as the main subject - it was dark in front of the lighter background.   Using lost and found edges would be paramount to not create the fencing as a focal point.

Searching through my collection of reference photos I was able to find horse photos and glean much needed detail from them.  For the rider, I had additional photos from which to work.   The painting was to be as the photo - monochromatic - black and white.   I have a lovely collection of gray paint from different companies.  It is always interesting how the various manufacturers create different versions of the same colors.  

The background was a series of layered paint beginning with an under painting of burnt umber (which I let bleed through in places).   When painting the leaves, the background was layered.  The first layer was allowed to almost dry and then wet paint was applied over the almost dry paint.   I then took a dry brush and scumbled the layers together creating a depth in the leaves that I was hoping to create.   You know what they say - the best laid plans do not always work out.  In this case, they worked out just as envisioned.

When I was commissioned to create this painting, I was thrilled.  I haven't done a monochromatic painting in many years.   It was awesome to create one again.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Holly - a pastel painting of an Irish Setter by Dawn Secord

 This is a painting of "Holly" - Meadow Run Walk of Fame.

I met Holly years ago in Southern California.   She was a lovely girl.  I always knew she was competition for my girls when I showed against her.  Some dogs just stick in your mind.   Holly was one of those.   She was really a beautiful dog and I always loved her gentle expression.

When her owner contacted me to inquire about commissioning me to paint her, I was thrilled.   We set about getting reference photos from her owner emailed to me.   As much as I really don't like computers, they are a great assistance when getting photos back and forth.  I remember earlier days - 20+ years ago when I had to take photos of a painting, have the film developed, and then mail the photo of the painting to the person who commissioned me.  Email is my friend!

There was this lovely gentle photo of Holly on the edge of a sofa looking down.   It was her owner's favorite and I loved it instantly.   In the photo, Holly was bunched up a bit in a corner.  For the painting, I took that out and had Holly's head, neck and shoulder only.   She was to pretty to look bunched up.  The head and expression in the reference photo were perfect.  Nothing was changed there.   It is my job, as the artist,

to see what to include from a photo and what not to include for the painting.

I asked Holly's owner to share a little bit about Holly and this is what she told me:

   I always said she was an easy keeper.  Laidback and easy to live with.  Rare.

Thank you to Holly's owner for having me paint her beautiful
girl.   She was a special girl and we all loved her.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Troy Grayson - Labrador Retriever - Original Pet Painting

This is a painting recently completed of Troy Grayson.  Grayson is his middle name - not to be confused with his family's last name.   I always give our dogs two names (Bling is known as Bing Bing at home as an example) so it tickled me when he was named as he is.

Troy is 8 years old now and I've known him since he was a pup.   He actually stayed with us for a few weeks when he was a baby while his owners went on a lengthy vacation.  He is everything we love about Labrador Retrievers.  He is fun, loving, gentle spirited, and a great family dog.   

For this painting, Troy has been photographed several times and we have been waiting for the perfect photo that would show his personality.   When the reference photo had been taken, I was in California for an art show and was staying with Troy's family while there.   It is much more fun to stay with a family than a hotel!   We took photos of Troy for the painting and this reference photo was the one that touched his owner's hearts and would be used for his painting.

Last summer Troy was diagnosed with lymphoma.  He had a roller coaster of a time going through the treatments.   He is in remission and his family couldn't be happier.   Modern medicine? - miracles? - maybe a combination of both.   Thank you to Troy's family for having me paint your special boy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

No Ghoulish Green Monsters Here wins two new awards - 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

 I am so very excited to share that my children's picture book (illustrated and written by me) No Ghoulish Green Monsters Here has won two new awards.  These two awards are:

2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Finalist - Children's Picture Book Illustration (Best Illustrator)

2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Finalist - Best Overall Design (Fiction)

This makes 8 awards received for the book.   The other awards are:

  • Awarded "Silver Award" by Mom's Choice Awards
  • Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)  July 2021 reading list
  • Finalist - International Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest
  • 2021 Winner - Animal and Pets category, Pinnacle Book Achievement Award NABE (National Association of Book Entrepreneurs)
  • 2021 Children's Picture Book Award - 2nd Place, North Texas Book Festival
  • 2021-2022 Reader Views Literary Awards Winner-Sponsored/Specialty award-The Feathered Quill Be Kind to Animals Awards
It is beyond exciting to have my first authored and illustrated book so well received.  A complementary coloring book has just been released titled, "Sit, Stay and Color with a Dog Bling".   The books are available on the book's website at and

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Oil Painting in Process - lily pad landscape by Dawn Secord - Part 2

Oil painting in progress.  The large oil painting continues. I am also working on a pastel painting at the same time. While the oil paint is drying or setting up, I move over to the pastel painting and work on that. I've put an xpen around the paintings to keep my "squirrel hunters" away from the oil painting. Bling, my worst behaved dog (saying that with an incredible amount of love) keeps sneaking in and resting under the oil painting. Do I move her? Nope. Bling always gets her way. If you are enjoying these painting demos, please consider subscribing to my utube channel. Thanks for taking a peek.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Oil Painting in Process - lily pad landscape by Dawn Secord - Part 1

This is painting in progress.  It is being painted on a gallery wrapped frame.   I need to start working on the sides of the painting as well as the front.

If you would like to see more of my paintings, don't forget to subscribe to my Utube channel.    

Sunday, April 3, 2022

After Dinner Walk in Manhattan


After Dinner Walk in Manhattan is a visual story of a couple taking an evening stroll under the magical city lights in the iconic city of Manhattan.

I was commissioned to create the painting using a reference photo taken by a family member.   The completed oil painting measures 6’ tall by 4’ wide.  

When working with a reference photo, it is easy for the viewing audience to assume the artist did their very best to capture the exact likeness of the photo.   Nothing could be further from the truth.   As an artist, I endeavored to capture the essence of the moment that made this photo so beloved by the individuals in the scene.

 Let’s begin with what I did not want to capture in the painting:

·        Objects in the reference photo not needed in the painting:  the shopping bag hanging between the couple, the discarded paper on the sidewalk, the bright red spot reflected off the side of the building to the right of the husband’s shoulder or the bright reddish brown vertical reflected lines on the buildings that ran between the couple from the top of the painting down towards their shoulders. 

What should be adjusted in the painting but not removed:

·        Effects to be adjusted (compositionally) in the painting:  The actual cement breaks in the sidewalk added detail in the lower half of the photograph balancing with the detail in the upper section of the photograph.  The breaks would be much stronger if they were more of a diagonal direction.   The silver blue gray reflective lighting on the building, to the right of the husband, could be extended up towards the top of the painting and down to the husband’s arm creating some interest in those dark empty spaces.  Reducing the width of the vertical red brown reflective lighting on the buildings as well as subduing their brilliance as seen in the photos was needed.  These shapes and vividness of color actually separate the couple by placing a distraction of color between them.   There is a hint of the street light casting a lighter value on the sidewalk in front of the couple.   This will be the most important change.  I have emphasized the street light in front of the couple by giving it a little more detail and ground reflection than seen in the photo.  This last change allows me to push the illusion of depth even more.    The light adds an enhanced warmth to the moment.

What I wanted to see in the painting that did not exist or was almost insignificant in the photo:

·        Effects to be added that do not exist in the reference photo:  The bottom half of the painting, being a middle to lighter value actually draws the viewer out of the painting.  This lighting effect was created by the flash of the camera taking the photo.   Compositionally, we do not want the viewing audience to exit the bottom of the painting but rather find a way to be led back into the painting to find new and enticing artistic shapes, colors or subjects to rest their eyes upon.  To do so, I’ve made the bottom of the painting darker to strategically guide the eye back upwards.   For color harmony, I’ll be adding more red browns (burnt sienna) to the sidewalk to tie into the reflective light bouncing off the buildings.    I’ll also be adding some gray blues, blues, and a few splashes of turquoise to balance the color throughout the painting for color harmony.

Getting Started:

When I begin a large oil painting, I create a graph on the canvas using a pencil or vine charcoal.   For this painting, I chose to use a pencil.   Once the graph is measured out on the canvas, I begin the pencil sketch.  It is a simple sketch and not a great amount of detail.  This sketch will be used as my map to keep the perspective correct.

The second step is to take black oil paint and cover my sketch.  As the painting begins, I will not lose the lines of my initial sketch once they are protected with the oil paint.   This oil paint sketch is then allowed to dry thoroughly.  The next step is to apply an underpainting.  My color of choice is burnt sienna using a wide brush.   The brush strokes are varied, as is the thickness of the paint, to give depth and a slight color change later in places I may choose to let the underpainting remain visible.   Often times, but not always, I will choose to let some of the under painting show through in the finished painting.   The underpainting affect can play a big role in the painting.   Letting the black oil sketch dry thoroughly will eliminate the black paint from being smeared by the burnt sienna when the underpainting layer is being applied during the underpainting phase of the process.

From there the fun starts.   I begin painting in layers.   Some areas may only have one layer allowing more transparency to show the under painting.   Layers are applied until the desired affect is achieved.   I don’t know what is going to be done until I start the painting.  I pray before each painting is started.   My paintings happen as I paint.   I do not plan the layers or how much time will go into the layer.  I simply go with what feels right and let the painting evolve.

Compositionally, we hear of the “Rules of 3”.    Very seldom do I sit down and plan the rules of 3.  It happens intuitively.  With this painting, there are 3 areas leading directly towards our main subjects.  The lines in the sidewalk were painted so they lead you up into the painting and subjects.   The reflective lights on the upper left corner were slanted down towards the subjects.  The vertical lines in the center and to the right of the subjects brought us to the subjects.  The vertical lines of the sidewalk intersecting the building also created a “stop” to keep the viewer from leaving the painting when gazing down vertically.  Aside from the rules of 3, at the bottom of the painting, the darkened values create a directional change to bring the viewer back up into the painting.

The street light gave me an amazing opportunity to create a space of light in front of the couple allowing the viewer to look through and around the couple and ultimately, out in front of them.  This effect greatly enhanced the feeling of depth in the painting.   I brought the reflected ground light out on the left side of the couple significantly to break up the feeling of the vertical lines of building reflections about the couple.  This rounded area of light enveloped where the couple was walking.   We do not know where they were headed, but we do know it is warm and inviting. 

The camera reflection from the back of the couple made the couple look like they were floating.   In the painting, I added shadows under the couple’s feet to eliminate that floating feeling.  Their feet are established on the sidewalk and the shadows provide us with a feeling of forward movement.

For the husband’s hat, I applied a number of coats as well as a scumbling of the paint using a dry brush to create a thick fabric texture that was true to the hat.  I had the hat on hand for authenticity.

This was a wonderful journey from beginning to end.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Born to Run - Painting in Process of running Irish Setters

Here is my new print, Born to Run. The painting features 5 Irish Setters running. This painting has been a project since 2019. The original is for sale and the reproductions will be available in a limited edition of 195 prints in two sizes as well as 19 Artist's Proofs. The reproductions will be released in May or June and are available for pre-sale on my webpage at There is also a fun Utube video discussing the process of the painting.
As always, my prints are professionally created and are museum quality.