Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Better than daytime TV

Pumpkin and Patch. Oil on stretched canvas. Sold.

Today, I returned to the Atria Senior Living center in Waterford, and, while a group of about 12 Atria residents watched, I made this painting of Suzanne Myler's dogs.

I'm pretty happy with Pumpkin, the dog at the top - but I'm not too pleased with Patch, at the bottom. In the photo from which I was working, Patch looked pretty stern. He clearly is the dominant dog, and in the photo, he looked grumpy, serious and distinctly alpha.

But Suzanne lives with him, and sees his sweet and goofy side, and I think that the reason I'm unhappy with Patch is that I changed him mid-painting to try to capture her vision of him.

When Suzanne commissioned me to do the painting, I told her that I'd keep at it until I got the dogs' personalities just right - and it was interesting for me and the Atri-ettes, I believe, to watch the process, and watch me struggle and work to change something I'd set down so deliberately.

One of the photos Suzanne had given me showed Patch as a puppy. In that photo, he is sweet and silly and playful. I'd shied away from using this photo because it was taken so long ago - before Pumpkin showed up, even. But it shows the side of Patch that Suzanne loves.

So tomorrow, I'm going to start over again with Patch, and paint his sunny side. I'll post the new painting here on the blog.

I've been in a little bit of a funk with my painting recently. I know this means I'm heading for a breakthrough, but right now, it just feels like my reach has extended far beyond my grasp. This afternoon, after I left the Atria center, I painted outdoors, and while my painting still didn't measure up to my ideas, it came closer.

It was fun and rewarding to paint while the seniors watched. They asked good questions, they were impressively accepting, and they seemed to enjoy the whole thing. I know I did.

Thanks for reading!

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