09 January 2012

Lil' Charlie! Even cuter in his sweater...


This painting was commissioned by Nick Garbis as a Christmas present for his wife Sarah. It is a painting of her much loved lil' buddy, Charlie, who was her present last year.
Charlie is one of those dogs that is ridiculously cute. So cute, I almost didn't want to paint this dog, afraid that some of the cuteness might get away in the time it takes to go from eyes to my hand.

I've painted plenty of dogs for this blog so this should have been a piece of cake and it was, until I decided to make things hard for myself. I had a week and a half to paint this and did so in a few hours well before delivery time. The painting I made was very simple and charming. I used very simple lines and the color was minimal but to the point. I showed this first painting to my very honest wife, Beth, and she liked it. Her only criticism was that there should be more of a sparkle in his eyes. I agreed and the night before delivery I dipped my brush in white to do so... and then decided to touch up a few other things...

I filled in a little more color here and there and defined the body a little more... and the next thing I knew I had gone too far. The charm was gone. The looseness that the painting originally had was destroyed. The inaccuracies that came from simple lines, now made solid, just felt like clumsy proportions which I was feverishly trying to fix.

On these small paintings, the layers of paint get thick and lumpy very fast making clear detail almost impossible. I used so much paint that the lower part of the painting's surface became the Pintos Mountains and my tiny brush was a disoriented pilgrim looking for salvation. Things went wrong... really wrong and I was supposed to deliver this in a few hours morning.

I contacted Nick early the next morning and asked if we could meet later in the day.Then took out a new board and started over. I figured if I did it once I could do it a second time. This painting, which you see above, came together fast. But I made some changes this time. I decided to have the dog wear his sweater (for maximum cuteness) and made the painting more "complete". Couldn't rely on this simple line stuff in a pinch. And very quickly, it turned out well. Probably more satisfying than the first.

I have a couple of new paintings that will be up soon. Today I'll complete a "baby brown bear playing pots and pans with wooden spoons". It is one of those paintings that I've been sitting on for a while. Bound to happen when I'm not given a deadline. So, moral of the story is, if you commission a painting, always give my a deadline for both of our sakes. If nothing else, just arbitrarily say "Groundhogs Day" or "Fourth of July" or whatever. It works better that way!

-John

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