The Nashville area has become a special place for me. Two of my sisters and my adorable nephew and niece are there, so it’s become a go-to spots for family travel. And just outside Nashville, I have discovered the wondrous Holly Belle on Instagram. Even if you didn’t grow up with a dad that brought home a baby cow in the back of the station wagon (true story!), Holly’s “puppy cow” jumping around in the dining room of her house is sure to make you happy. Her mini cows have inspired my paintings and drawings in the recent past, and I have three paintings of cows started, shown above in various states of completion.
Now I want your opinion—since I received official word that I will be included in a group exhibition at Arcadia Gallery in Los Angeles, I think at least one of these cow paintings will be included in my submission. I have a lot of work ahead of me and want to focus on the best prospects, so do you have any favorites so far?
Please visit my Into the Country series to see more paintings of animals.
Sarah and her aunt commissioned me to make this pet portrait of Ruby as a gift for Sarah’s parents. Sara is my husband’s best friend, she was the “best man” in our wedding, and I absolutely adore her. I never got to meet Ruby but I’ve heard lots of stories about her. Though it’s been years since she passed, she is still missed by those that knew her. I put a lot of care into each painting I make, but knowing the family personally, knowing firsthand how much Ruby was loved, really reinforces my mission of creating these paintings with a sensitivity to the bond between people and their animal friends. You can see the love that Ruby gave back to her family in her happy smiling face. I hope the painting brings them all much joy. Please take a look at my Pet portraits gallery to see more examples of my work.
A Painting More True to Life than a Photograph
This painting evokes Ruby’s puppy-like zeal the way only an original painting can. Since it’s painstakingly created layer by layer, I’m able to pay careful attention to all the details that make Ruby “Ruby”. Sometimes these details even get missed by the camera. The main image I used for the portrait showed Ruby’s eyes to be dark brown. But in the other images, and in everyone’s memory, her eyes had a golden glow, which I worked to capture. Though I can sometimes get all of the information I need with just one image, working with several and getting lots of feedback is important to my process.
I had the added honor of witnessing the happy couple unwrap Ruby’s portrait. People often write that seeing their portrait for the first time brought tears to their eyes, but seeing them both burst into happy tears was a special moment for me. See them below in a photo taken by Sarah, with the framed portrait of Ruby.
From the Family
You are a very talented artist and you captured the heart and spirit of our wonderful four-legged sweetheart, Ruby. We really love the painting. Thanks again, very much.
Doug, Gloria & Sarah
I am thrilled to announce that my painting, “Admiral Vox” has been chosen for both a Gallery Award and as Honorable Mention in the 13th International ARC Salon.
Gallery Award – Arcadia Contemporary
I’m excited to be chosen as one of the artists for a Gallery Award by Arcadia Contemporary. Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City, and Arcadia Contemporary, Los Angeles, will both be having an exhibition for selected winning artists in 2018 or early 2019. Each gallery selected a group of finalists who supplied the gallery with additional images to help them make their decisions. From those finalists, the galleries have each chosen artists for a group exhibition and sale. Each artist who participates will be completing a series of new works specifically for these shows. Keep an eye out for the exhibition dates on the blog, or sign up for my Newsletter to get monthly updates on my Monthly Miniatures and exhibitions.
Click the link to see all of the finalists and winners of the Animal Category in the 13th International ARC Salon. It’s an honor to be included in this group! This category includes all animal art; any paintings, sculptures or drawings where an animal or animals are the central focus of the work.
My painting, “Admiral Vox” is a finalist for the ARC Salon Competition!
I’ve always been passionate about realism and it’s inspiring to see the genre in the spotlight with greater frequency. The Art Renewal Center aims to lead the revival of realism and each year they gain a bigger and bigger following. The number of entries has grown each year with a 20% increase in just the last year. I think this trend is going to continue and I’m excited to see where it goes.
This year they received over 3,750 entries from 69 countries and approximately 28% have been selected finalists. I was also a finalist last year with my portrait of Nippy. Winners will be posted in mid February – please wish me luck!
CLICK TO VIEW FINALISTS
About The Art Renewal Center
“Leading the revival of realism in the visual arts, the Art Renewal Center (ARC), a 501(c)(3), non-profit, educational foundation, hosts the largest online museum dedicated to realist art and includes works by the old masters, 19th century, and contemporary realists as well as articles, letters and other online resources. The ARC is the foremost and only vetting service for realist art schools ensuring that the teaching curricula and quality of teacher and student work meet our strict standards to become ARC Approved™. The ARC also runs the ARC Salon Competition, which is the largest and most prestigious competition in the western world for realist artists painting, sculpting, and drawing today with nine categories and thousands of works competing, culminating in a traveling live exhibition of many of the winning works. The ARC works with other ARC Allied Organizations™, artist groups, museums, and publications to become a central news hub for the Contemporary Realist Movement of Post Contemporary Art. Read the ARC Philosophy written by ARC Chairman, Frederick C. Ross, to learn why ARC is so passionately dedicated to realist based art.”
Congratulations to all of the finalists!!
Finishing up my latest Monthly Miniature of Olwyn Marsden, I thought it would be fun to see a portrait I painted of her when she was little, along with portrait paintings of her parents and don’t forget the dog! Nippy has sadly passed, but his joy of car-rides lives on. All of these paintings are in the Marsden collection. Go to Tim Marsden’s website to see his artwork.
Transfiguration 20, Mother & Daughter
oil on rotating copper panels (double sided painting)
7.5″ x 5″ x 3.5″ (framed)
oil on rotating copper panels (double sided painting)
7.5″ x 5″ x 3.5″ (framed)
Nippy, Oil on aluminum, 5 1/4″ x 9 1/2″
The portrait paintings of Tim, Sandy and Olwyn are from a series of interactive paintings. The viewer can spin a small knob at the underside of the shadowbox frame and spin the image to view another painting on the other side. You can see more of these paintings in my interactive painting gallery.
The portrait of Nippy was a finalist in the 2016 ARC Salon Competition.
When I first started painting pet portraits, I never imagined I would paint so many in memoriam. It’s a hard thing to explain why a painting should feel more significant than, say, the photo it’s based on, but I think it’s the care put into making it. I love that all the smiling dogs and bright eyed cats that I’ve painted will be just as happy and alert in their portraits for hundreds of years to come. They will not only bring a moment of joy to their much loved companion, but also to countless generations of viewers after all of us are gone. It’s an honor to make these paintings.
Hicks was one such special dog. I painted his portrait for Megan, whose husband was very close to Hicks. Our time with our pets is brief, but the love we experience is profound. We dread the moment of loss almost from the first, and it is always too soon. I know how it feels to lose a dog so well loved, and I think that is why I never get tired of painting memorial pet portraits.
I have a little portrait of Buster, my favorite companion who I lost six years go, hanging where I can see him every day. His portrait honors our connection and keeps his memory warm in my heart. It also gives me occasion to talk about him more, and tell stories of special memories. Painting it and having it helped me turn my grief at his passing into a celebration of our friendship. If you are considering a similar gift for yourself or a loved one, let me personally encourage you. If you have any questions about it, you may read my Commissions page or reach out to me directly.
Oh my gosh. It’s amazing!! I have tears in my eyes writing this. My husband loved it. It is so beautiful. I can’t thank you enough.
Portrait of a Gentleman and Portrait of a Lady, oil on aluminum, 5″ x 5″
Making portraits of rabbits is serious (and silly) business
Living with animals means forming unusual patterns of communication and quite powerful loving bonds. These two bunnies reside in my painting studio and we’ve become quite good friends. I’ve made many paintings of them over the past several years, some silly and some serious. These two paintings take the prize for the most formal in the bunch, however, yet these portraits are also as serious and silly as the rabbits they portray.
17th century Dutch portraits heavily influenced how I composed these portraits. Vermeer’s, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a prime example of this type of painting. My fascination for this genre can also be seen in my Into the Country monthly miniatures, created at the same time as these two.
The paintings explore our relationships with animals and their relationships with each other. I’ve spent most of my career painting portraits of people and my portraits of rabbits reflect that. There is an irony in a formal portrait painting of a rabbit because relationships between animals are seen as less legitimate than between humans. And more so this diptych since it anthropomorphizes the bond between this pair. Yet these two rabbits did dearly love each other and the feeling that an animal is “part of the family” is certainty not uncommon. So beyond being both silly and serious, they also feel at once ironic and genuine.
Admiral Vox and Vigil, two paintings accepted in 12th annual International Juried Exhibition
The International Guild of Realism
Fashions come and go, and fads of the art world are no different. Realistic painting on the other hand persists through thousands of years of history, although its popularity rises and falls like anything else. It is not a reaction to some ephemeral idea in culture, but an effort to get in touch with some defining part of our humanity.
Part of what attracts me to realistic painting is the deep traditions and techniques that build throughout history. A realistic painting feels more to me like an act of craftsmanship than some kind of personal reaction or a commentary. There is something powerful and moving for me in being part of a tradition, practicing and helping to build on a body of knowledge and technique.
Yet there is still room for expression and exploration, both in abundance at the ‘IGOR’ 12th Annual International Juried Exhibition where my two paintings above showed (Admiral Vox won the ‘Creative Achievement’ award). The International Guild of Realism aims to advance realism in fine art by producing museum exhibitions, gallery shows, workshops and education programs.
Says IGOR of realism:
For us, “realism” ranges from the classical based upon traditional, academic-style painting to the contemporary where cutting edge techniques and a wide variety of subject matter are used to comment on today’s world. Our members represent a wonderful spectrum of styles including (but not limited to) Trompe l’Oeil, photorealism, surrealism, and super-realism.
The International Guild of Realism was founded by a group of leading professional realism artists from around the globe in 2002 with four goals:
- Recognize the best realists working today.
- Create gallery and museum exhibition opportunities.
- Provide advertising and marketing support for IGOR members.
- Offer a bridge between art collectors and the highest quality realist art, created by our members.
- We know that as greater numbers of art lovers have access to high-quality realism, the value of these paintings will increase — not just in monetary terms, but in appreciation, understanding, and international attention.
The exhibition will be held at the prestigious Winfield Gallery in the heart of the Carmel Art District.
5″ x 5″
oil on aluminum
Painting pet portraits is a journey of discovery
Years of training in traditional painting techniques and my past pet portraits form the foundation for each new piece I make. Yet with each portrait I still learn new things. Mixing just the right color still feels like making magic, and finding the precise technique to create a new texture of fur or feathers is an enchanting challenge all its own.
A perfect example is my recent cat portrait of Shiro, a fluffy white fellow with piercing blue eyes. In this case, the key technique to capture the luminosity in those beautiful eyes, as well as the soft sense of fluff, was glazing.
Glazing is a little like magic
Evidence of glazing is found in the earliest examples of painting. The idea is to apply transparent layers of oil paint atop the dried lower layers. I use Gamblin’s Galkyd media for the upper layers of my paintings and when glazing, I increase the medium enough to create transparent layers, which offer a sense of optical depth. This is one reason why painting always look better in person than when reproduced. In reproductions all the colors are flattened out and the transparent layers are lost.
Glazing is typically used in just a few key areas of a painting. The areas of optical depth attract the viewer’s eye more than surrounding areas of opaque paint, so it’s a great way to help direct the eye of the viewer around a composition and create focal points. Gamblin has a list of pigments that are ideal for glazing on their website. I used Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, and a touch of Indian Yellow in Shiro’s eyes.
We absolutely love the picture. You rendered him so beautifully! We have a special spot in the house to hang the picture so we can look at it every day and it looks amazing.
Thank you again. It is such an honor and a treat to have a piece of your art and it is so special that it is of Shiro who we love so much.
Thanks so much for the commission, Dawn!
See more examples of my paintings on the Pet Portraits page and learn about the commission process on the Commissions page.
Portrait of Robbie
oil on aluminum
16.75″ x 15″
“Portrait of Robbie”
It was a lovely Seattle day when Robbie sat (in a tree) for his portrait painting. Robbie was patient and sweet and easy to work with, and the reference photos came out beautifully. I was thankful that it started off so well, as it was among the most challenging portrait commissions I’ve painted.
Traditional oil portrait painting technique sees me through again
It took flexibility and patience to finish this commission the way I imagined it, and without years of experience, I could have been tempted to call it done early. With the wide variety of textures in this portrait, the challenge was to paint each texture at the right level of detail to keep the eye moving through the painting without distracting from Robbie. I also experimented a lot with composition, moving major elements of the background during planning stages and early on in painting.
With so many different areas to work on, the confidence in the process of painting by layer kept me from getting ahead of myself. It’s not an accident that the same process helps keep color consistent. For instance, the second coat of paint for the sweater took four different painting sessions (having a one year old son has reduced my painting sessions to around two hours). The next two coats were thin glazing layers and each layer was finished during one painting session. That meant I was able to add highlights, shadows and more texture to the entire sweater with the same mixture of paint and not have to keep remixing days later. Similarly, finishing one entire layer before moving to the next layer, allows the whole painting to have a consistent look. As a bonus, painting in layers is a necessary part of fat-over-lean painting, which helps prevent cracking over time.
Thanks to Amy and Robbie for the wonderful experience
With all this talk of challenges, I want to say that I am so thankful for the opportunity to make this portrait painting. The color palette, composition and facial expression all came together in a tapestry of textures to find Robbie, with his budding confidence and thoughtful gaze. Amy was a pleasure work with, and Robbie made a wonderful subject both to photograph and to paint. Thank you both for the honor and opportunity.
It was lovely to see your studio and where all of your creative energy flows yesterday. I have hung the portrait… and it is wonderful. Thank you again, and know that I am plotting the next commission.
If you are new to my site, please visit my Gallery to see more examples of my work. Visit the Portrait Commissions page to learn how to have a portrait painted just for you.