Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dogs – Five Different Ones

A few weeks ago I was on my facebook pages and I noticed that I had a few letters in my inbox. One of them was from a friend who works with my wife, Joanne. Kristen told me that she had been thinking about having a painting created for her mom for a christmas present for this year. Her mom is a huge lover of dogs. Kristen wanted me to create a painting of her mom’s three dogs, plus a fourth dog (who recently passed away) as well as one of her own dogs. Yes – that’s five dogs!

Of course, I agreed to do this for her. I did forewarn her that the painting might not be completed in time, but by the new year it would be done. I was really busy finishing my art workshops, so the painting didn’t get started for a while.

Kristen gave me lots of photographs of these five dogs. I spent about an hour, one evening, scanning the photos and trying to figure out how I was going to lay out the painting. I became very frustrated. I’m not the most knowledgeable computer user and I found my skills very limiting. I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted to do. I’m very grateful that Joanne offered to help me. Soon, I had something that I could work with.

Whenever I am creating a painting that is very challenging – as I knew this one was to be – I take my time getting ready. Day 1: I figured out what I wanted to paint on and I went and bought the board and had it cut to size. Day 2: I went to Kinko’s photocopy centre and I spent a bit of time working with an employee until my image was ready to print. Day 3: I spent the entire day applying base coats of Gesso to the board. Day 4: I spent three hours transferring the image. Day 5: I sat and thought and thought and thought. Day 6: I was ready to paint.

Day 6 was just last Sunday and I was surprised that I had accomplished as much as I did. Still, at the end of the day, Joanne didn’t think that I would get it done in just three more days. This was the first time – like ever! – that she was wrong. I usually don’t try to push myself too hard – that’s when mistakes happen – but I really wanted to get this painting done in time.

Since last Sunday, no one (except my neighbours) saw me. For three days I locked myself in my art studio. I didn’t go to the gym for a swim and sauna. I didn’t go to the library to check my emails and facebook. I didn’t even turn my computer on to write a new blog. My days started at around 7:00 am. I would stop for breakfast after my first five hours of painting. My day ended when Jo’ came home from work. By that time I was getting a little dizzy. Even this morning, I was painting by 6:45am and just a few short hours later the painting was done.

This painting is very special for me for different reasons. I was very happy to be asked to create this painting for Kristen. With a little help, I was able to overcome my fear of failure – like I mentioned earlier, five dogs was quite a challenge. And I was able to experiment with new colour blending techniques. I have never painted a yellow sky before, the dogs are painted using purple, green, red and gold colours, but they don’t look like purple and red dogs. I learned a lot and that’s probably the most important thing for me.

Kristen was very happy when she called this morning and Joanne was able to tell her to come over to pick up the completed painting – by this time I was outside shoveling the foot and a half of wet, heavy snow.

Kristen and her boyfriend, Mike, showed up a little while later. They were both very pleased with my work and I managed to get them to pose for this picture before they took my painting away and left me crying on my front porch. Now that the painting is gone, I feel very lonely. I had the wonderful company of five dogs offering my mind entertainment for so long – it’s a little bit of shock to see them go.


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