Custom Portrait: Painting of Three Dogs in a House

Recently, I started painting on site at Canine Action Sports Dog Training Center on Thursday evenings. Since people seem to enjoy watching me paint, and I enjoy painting dogs, it is a great place for me to meet fellow animal lovers who are interested in my work.

One of my biggest fans is the owner of the center, who commissioned me to paint a whimsical painting of her three dogs, Mattie, Rosie and Tasha.

Having seen a drawing that I had made previously, she asked if I could do a similar image with her dogs in the windows of the house. She also requested that the piece be done on a textured wood that adds to the whimsical effect.

My models from the left: Mattie, Rosie and Tasha

I began the painting as I always do, by painting the background black and blocking in colors for the basic shapes. I use a process of building up color by painting many layers of varied colors on top of each other, always leaving some trace of the underneath layers.

As you can see in the last image above, I ended up changing the base of the house, to make the black dog seem a little more plausible. The thinner house base made her head look too big for what we imagine to be her body hidden from view.

It takes many hours to paint a painting such as this, ranging anywhere from 15 to 25 hours and more, depending on the difficulty. This one was a bit more difficult, as it required some detail and had 3 animals featured. As you can suspect, every artist has intense thinking going on during the process, sometimes reflecting joy and confidence; sometimes insecurity and trepidation. It is all a part of the process.

I sometimes “tweet” some of these thoughts on Twitter as I am working. Here are some of my random thoughts that were captured in tweets as I painted this painting:

@BZTAT I’m looking at this painting and thinking…Even a whimsical painting requires some degree of plausibility, and I am not there yet.

@BZTAT When ya gotta sing, ya gotta sing, or in my case, when ya gotta paint, ya gotta paint! (in reply to a message from a musician)

@BZTAT thinks she is really not made out for detail painting. Just sayin’.

@BZTAT I am working on a piece with more detail than I am used to at the moment, and it’s making me cross eyed!

@BZTAT is painting on the wild side–wearing clothes that, thus far, do not have paint on them. (That changed real quickly…)

@BZTAT Sometimes I think I really don’t know how to paint. I just slap the paint on, and on, and on…until it finally works.

Despite the insecurities, I eventually worked through various dilemmas and finished the piece to my satisfaction. My patron has not yet seen the piece; I hope that she and her pooches enjoy it!

BZTAT with a young fan painting on location
at Lehman’s in Kidron, OH

Now, on to the next portrait–a dog named Boomer, who recently went to the Rainbow Bridge. I feel very honored to paint this very special portrait.

Life is an Adventure!

Follow works in progress by BZTAT on Twitter by searching #bztatptg.

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Art Adventures Studios, located in downtown Canton, OHnear Second April Galerie and the historic Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography.