Bird Dog


Finally, FINALLY finished the tchotchka project and now I can turn my attention to making some pictures and getting ready for my upcoming show at the Oklahoma state capitol in the Governor’s Gallery this June (for those who can make it, it’s running from June 5 to July 31, open daily).

Speaking of pictures, the other day I pulled one out of the “reserve” bin- which is much like a dustbin but hypothetically a little cleaner. It’s a painting I started years ago, got bogged down with it and left it for dead. There seem to be a lot of those in the ol’ reserve bin. But leaving a painting all alone and unseen for awhile means that when you return to it, you can see its problems with a fresh eye and perhaps find a solution. And if you’re lucky, finish the painting.

This one is called, “Bird Dog”, it’s a portrait of our golden retreiver, Cody, and was begun when he was a MUCH younger dog. If I wanted to make it a real portrait now I would have to give him a white face in the painting. It’s 24″ x 36″, on canvas (I generally paint on board panels), in acrylic. I wanted to have him surrounded by a flock of birds, but not ones he’d normally come across in the field.

The first thing I did to fix this baby was to paint out a penguin, a burrowing owl, an American avocet, a flock of snow geese and the open wing of a great egret, none of which were really contributing much and were getting badly in the way of the story. Zap, they were gone. Next, I defined the fur breaks on Cody. This gave volume and direction to his body and coat. Without the owl and avocet his legs and paws are now visible and he can safely stand in space. He now has “weight”. Removing the penguin made his back end visible which gives the eye an ingress from that direction along his flank. Removing the egret wing uncluttered the background and let the macaw’s wings stand out more, revealing the circular design element.

Darkening the entire background popped out the foreground nicely (I looked at a bunch of Carravaggios for inspiration) but looking at the first draft, I saw that I really liked the snow geese in their weird blue light, so I might add them back later. We’ll see. Perhaps I’ll go with a red velvet drape instead…a drape and a vase of flowers. Now, that would be otherworldly.

The last thing I did was to go all around and make corrections to the drawing of the birds and Cody’s head. Some of the drawing was good but there was a lot of awful errors in anatomy, especially on the kestrel’s head. Not sure it’s right now, but it’s a lot better, and now the kestrel has feet. See the detail inset.

Any comments are welcome. I’ll post more as I get further along. I’d love to have this one hang in the Governor’s Gallery show- a veritable centerpiece it would be!

2 thoughts on “Bird Dog

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