“Sure! I can do that!”
I have a habit of saying that sometimes when I probably should not. When one of my best collectors asks me to do something special, though, I want to give it a try.
I am a fine artist and not an illustrator, so I make it clear to patrons that I make the decisions about what goes into a painting, not them. Still yet, when a special request gives me a new artistic challenge, I am willing to try to incorporate different ideas into the composition.
Recently, some friends who have commissioned a number of my paintings in the past paid a visit to my studio. They were drawn to a painting of my cat Brewskie Butt that was hanging on the studio wall. There was just one problem. They were dog people, not cat people.
“Could you paint a portrait of our Rosie and Jake with a coffee mug like that?” they asked.
“Sure! I can do that!”
The project turned out to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated.
First of all, Rosie and Jake have completely different facial profiles. Rosie, a Border Collie, has a bouncy cheery look, while Jake, an English Cocker Spaniel, has more of a droopy dog look. They are different sizes, as well, so balancing them on a long horizontal canvas was not easy.
The coffee mug presented challenges too. I needed to have it look as though it was in front of the dogs and resting on a table. Making this look plausible wasn’t easy. Getting the proper perspective and color for the mug took quite a few trials and errors.
I added the window behind Jake, because the Rosie side was active and dynamic, but the space behind Jake seemed empty and dull. I went back and forth on the shape and color of the mug, too. I finally settled on a shape that worked best with the dogs in the back, and on an orangish yellow color that brought it into the foreground. (Warm colors tend to advance to the front and cool colors tend to recede to the back in a visual plane.)
I added a touch of orange to the background by adding a sun to the landscape in the window, tying the foreground and background together.
You can see the entire work in progress progression in this slideshow:
The final painting turned out quite spectacular and fun. Despite the challenges, I enjoyed the process of painting the portrait, and I was very pleased with the end result. I guess Rosie and Jake’s family was pleased too. They have already hung the painting over their kitchen table so that they can enjoy their morning coffee with their beloved pups!
Life is an Adventure!