Cairn Terrier

Tribute to Phil

I painted this portrait of Phil, Celia, Izzy, and Justus the cat, in 2010. Phil passed last Saturday. I like to use the present tense when someone passes, as I think they are still with us even though they are no longer in physical form. Phil is one of those people who brings to mind words that describe the best qualities of humans- he spills over with compassion, kindness, gentleness, generosity. He spent most of his life advocating for the most vulnerable in our society, in our world. He came to dog-love late in life, with Izzy being his first. He was smitten! and continues to have dogs as a central part of his life.

Izzy and Justus crossed the bridge ahead of Phil, and I'm pretty sure, they were there on Saturday greeting him as he joined them. Celia is doing ok.

A funny little story about this painting: Phil and Celia brought the painting back to my studio a few weeks after taking it home. They noticed a problem which they wanted corrected, and which I remedied. However, I had already had the painting photographed so Celia is still missing her sock in this version.

Original painting by Seattle dog artist.

A painting of a life must include the dog. Seattle, WA and the Utah desert.

A portrait of Woofie and Ron, a painting of a life. Every image in this painting is representative of experiences from their life together- moving towards the desert from Seattle, the rattlesnake that nearly took Woofie's life, the magical ability of Ron to transform his life through courage and self investigation, the jay that teaches fearlessness, the cairn guiding the route, the yellow and black guitar shape representing Ron's creative accomplishments. The tree is the bodhi tree, under which we all may sit. Ron knows enough to actually do it. The box represents the unknown gifts that we receive when we are seeking. Ron and Woofie


Continuing a painting in progress- Seattle, WA

The painting is a combination of images from Ron and Woofie's home environment, plus images related to what I know about their lives; love of the desert, traveling, life in Seattle by the water. When I asked Ron for symbolic imagery about his life, he said "visualize and then manifest the vision". OK, I'm working on that. The painting is moving along but I have still not found the place for Ron in this painting. He had a place but it wasn't working. He will reappear, but I'll have to sit and stare at the painting and wait for it to speak to me about where Ron belongs. Maybe this is what "visualizing and manifesting the vision" is.

Often people are uncomfortable with a painting of themselves, so finding the perfect pose for the human which is still representational but not ego glorifying, is tricky. That is the biggest challenge of a portrait, to be a pleasing but not something that is too much about them, or they won't put it on the wall. So Woofie remains the primary subject, and Ron is still to come.



Evolution of a Painting, and still changing- Seattle art studio, WA

Very often my initial idea is transformed in the painting process. The painting takes over and starts telling me what to do. I have to just give up control and let it lead me. I don't know where this painting is going. It is suppose to be a double portrait, so Ron will reappear at some point, somewhere. I now just try to do what the painting tells me. Sometimes I never figure it out. Sometimes I am taken places I couldn't imagine. I am hoping this one continues to speak to me.

Interview appointment for a dog painting with Ron and Woofie- Seattle, WA

I had an interview with Ron and Woofie last week, the interview being the first step for me in creating a custom painting. Ron is the founder of Black Rapid company which produces camera accessories, including the now famous R-strap, "the original camera sling". He designed the R-strap to make handling a camera easier and faster for the user. It is now considered to be an essential tool for many professional photographers, and non-pros as well. Ron loves dogs, and supports a number of  dog rescue organizations. Woofie is his companion and consultant, who communicates to him valuable dog-sense business advice, opinions about who to hire, and whether a song Ron is composing has potential. (Ron is also a musician and composer). We were laughing at the Woofie stories, but Woofie has been right enough times that his suggestions are taken seriously!

The subject for the painting will be both Ron and Woofie, a double portrait. I will start the painting and rough-in the composition then have Ron come for a sitting. I can paint dogs from referring to a collection of photos, but for a human, an in-person sitting is almost always necessary. Painting a human from a photo looks like a photo, but painting from life somehow actually injects life into the portrait.

These are the photos of the interview- many thanks to photographer Anita Nowacka. An interview usually lasts about an hour, during which I sketch the subjects, take some photos, and interview both to learn more about what they would like for the painting.