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Going to the dogs

Whereas an exhibition is my “best guess” at what I think someone, somewhere might like and might want to buy, I much prefer commissions where someone TELLS me what they want and how they want it, the medium, the size, the subject matter, the composition, the colours, the style, and I ask enough questions that I know exactly what the person is looking for and how they think it will look, and what price they’re thinking of paying for it, as well as me working out how much work, time, and ability goes into it so I’m happy with the price too. Then I go away and interpret their words, and when I’m happy that I’ve got the essence of what it is they’re after, I’ll show it to them. And such is the case with the last two dog portraits that I’ve just completed. I knew they were going to be a “bit tricky” as the buyer who wanted them was particular that she wanted just the dogs heads as a study, on a pure white unpainted background. So the viewers eye would be focused only on the dogs head as there was nothing else at all to compare it with. She could for instance have chosen the dogs to be sitting in a field but she didn’t want that, just a plain white background of pure white paper. And that sounds so easy. But it’s not. Because, as you paint, some paint quite naturally might just splatter a bit, or I might drop the brush whilst it was loaded with paint, or I might just catch the side of the paper as I drag the brush across the surface. And none of that would matter because any tiny mistakes like that would easily be covered by the background colour. If there is any. If there isn’t, then it puts more pressure on the artist to make sure that NOTHING touches the paper but the paint, in ONLY the place it should be and NO-WHERE else!!! Not even a hairs breath outside the outline I was working to. So, I daren’t even sneeze over this painting (and I actually had a cold soon after I’d started it, so I put the whole thing to one side whilst I sneezed elsewhere!!!).

And just to add to the “difficult” aspect, the dogs are black labradors on a white background. Ok, so now I have to consider “colour” where there may not be any. So I looked closely at the delightfully clear photos I’d been given to work with, and there was colour. Yes, lots of it. It wasn’t just a BLACK dog, there were myriads of colours, pale blues darkening to navy blues, lemon yellow, hints of iridescent greens, a touch of burnt sienna, and even magenta as well as white, greys and the deepest of deep dark black. There was loads of colour.

Then, on to the form, the shapes, the moulding of the dogs head. I had to capture the form, so that it looked like a dog, with bony protrusions but covered in muscle and skin. And on top of all of that, was the fur, a million tiny hairs, each a slightly different colour, light on dark, dark on light. And all of that had to be pulled together to make the character of the dog. So that the owner “knew” the dog and recognised it as their faithful friend.

And, most important of all, was getting the eyes “right”. Because if an animals eyes aren’t right, the whole thing looks wrong. So very very wrong. The eyes have to look like they are an eyeball sitting IN the eye socket. They have to look round since they are a ball. They have to look like the light is catching them in exactly the right place. They have defined edges but the middles are hazy colours, melting into each other, softly but with rounded shape. But most of all the eyes need to make the animal look intelligent. And look like that they can see out of them. And they pull the whole painting together, when they’re done properly.

All of that had to be captured on paper. And I’d also been given the proviso that I would ONLY be given the second commission IF the buyer liked the first. Which is fair enough…….. She didn’t want to waste her money on something if she didn’t like it.

So, on to the first painting. Two heads of the same dog. And it struck me that I had to paint them at the same time, because although they were separate on the paper, they were going to be viewed together, and had to be recognisable as the same dog, painted in the same style, with the same colours used, and the same paint effects utilised. I finished it, and contacted the buyer so she could ok it before I took it to be framed, because there was no point me framing it and her saying afterwards that I hadn’t captured the dog somehow and hating it. But she loved it as it was, and gave me the go ahead for the second commission. And loved that as much as the first. Phew, so she’s happy, and I’m delighted.

So, here they both are, the dogs I’ve just told you about. Painted in a “tight” style dry on dry (dry paint on dry paper). They are painted to be viewed as a set, so you can see the similarities in the styles, colours and compositions. But you can also see that even though they are both “Black labradors“, that one is female, one is male, one has a smoother coat, one has a rougher coat, one has a slight sadness about them, and a quizzical look. One dog is a larger breed than the other. They have personalities.

I've been an artist all of my life, and my paintings now hang on walls in Europe, USA and Canada. I'm working on getting them on the other continents! My wide range of artwork has been exhibited nearer to home in the East Midlands, with the Guild of Erotic Artists at Beaumont Hall Studios in Hertfordshire, and at "Erotica", Olympia, London. I have also been featured alongside my work in the Guild of Erotic Artists book (volume 2). I love to create dramatic interest in my pictures, whether it’s to paint an unusual landscape, or just to utilise dramatic lighting in my figure drawings or strong colour in my animal portraits. Delighting in the spontaneous tendencies of watercolour adds an interesting and distinctive look to my paintings, some of which are purposefully ambiguous, enabling the viewer to use their own interpretation of my artwork. I also love to hide images, and humour within my paintings, whether it’s a secret message, or an erotic couple hidden within a landscape, or even an erotic landscape where the couple are camouflaged as the features of the land itself. I am equally happy painting in oils, acrylics or watercolours and love to draw with pencil or ink. I have also developed the very effective method of drawing using white pencil on black card which creates dramatic pictures by just picking out where the light catches the body and leaving the rest of the image to the imagination, in darkness. I can also utilise many different styles, whether it is realistic, abstract, surrealistic, erotic, fantasy or camouflage art where something is hidden within the painting. I'm just passionate about my art, whatever I paint! But, it doesn't matter how many landscapes or pet portraits I paint, its always the erotic stuff that people are interested in! I started blogging to share some of the strange conversations I have with the people I meet. But its evolved into far more than that now.

Comments (10)

  1. Indigo
    May 29, 2008

    AMAZING!! Once again Jackie you surprise us with your outstanding ability as an artist to produce such wonderful Portraits.. whether it be animals or other wise, you are truely an awesome ‘artist..’

  2. Jackie Adshead
    May 29, 2008

    Indigo – Thankyou! I appreciate your kind comments.

  3. Luka
    May 29, 2008

    Well I’m not surprised she wanted the second commission, that really is an outstanding piece of work.

  4. Adam
    May 29, 2008

    Those labrodors are totally amazing

    fantastic work Jackie 🙂

  5. nitebyrd
    May 29, 2008

    I am going to echo Indigo’s sentiments exactly. Absolutely, positively GORGEOUS! Those dogs are truly “alive.”

  6. Vi
    May 30, 2008

    They are fantastic!!!!! Brilliant job as usual Jackie!

  7. Jackie Adshead
    May 30, 2008

    Luka – Thankyou! I’m pleased with them both.

  8. Jackie Adshead
    May 30, 2008

    Nitebyrd – Thankyou! I worked hard on them, so I’m glad they look “alive”.

  9. Spiky Zora Jones
    May 30, 2008

    Jackie, they are beautiful…you have captured their soul, sweetie. fabulous.

    Ciao babes.

  10. Jackie Adshead
    May 30, 2008

    Spiky – Thankyou! Captured their souls eh, Wow!

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