Dog-gone dog gone

Castle entry inkied

Castle entry

Well, miracle of miracles, we met up with our German shepherd stray ‘s owners yesterday and were able to return her to her proper home.  She lived about 2 miles down the road and somehow managed to make it to our deck and park herself here for the week. A friend of the wife saw the notice I put on the Owen County facebook page and they called Monday.  We weren’t sure it was the right dog because they said a younger age than my vet thought and the facial markings were off a little in the picture she sent, but we agreed everyone would feel better if they took a look.  Sure enough, it was their dog.  Everybody went home happy.  The  funny part is that I couldn’t decide between the name Sadie or Sophie.  Neither one seemed quite right.  Her real name is Shadow.  Pretty close if you ask me, for a shot in the dark.

In the meantime, I inked up the castle entryway. It has a plain stucco wall for the entry area and rear turret, red window trim and some sort of wooden shingle above the lower stone.  There is a little bit of greenery growing on the stone bases, which will add some nice colors.  Washes up next.

Dog-gone it

New dog?

New dog?

Guess what showed up on my deck again two days ago. You guessed it – another German shepherd.  Two years after our adventure with Alex, the long haired German shepherd puppy, another one showed up on the back deck.  She is very sweet and about a year old.  She has none of the dominance issues that Alex had and seems to have quite a nice, submissive temperament.  She seems quite intelligent and trainable at this point.  We are looking for her owners but maybe she will just be staying here.

I ended up taking off the last week or so.  After 3 home portraits in a row, on a quick schedule, I decided I needed a short break.  Back to work really soon.

Ooo whee, I’m busy

It’s been a heck of a week. Not only did we get Alex the dog, but I got commissions for a dog portrait and an architectural of an office building as well as selling 2 of my shore bird linocuts.  I can see myself coming and going lately.  I have the architectural mostly pencilled up but can’t really start the inking because some of the detail photos are too small and I can’t print them.  I’m waiting for  her to retake some of them.  I will start the pet portrait soon.  Those file are small too so I’m waiting to see if she has a larger version of one.

Three toys are better than one

Three toys are better than one

Alex is doing well.  He is almost housebroken, although I wouldn’t trust him quite yet.  He is sleeping mostly through the night in his crate and we are taking daily walks up and down the drive for exercise.  Two trips up and down are over a mile.  I do it twice daily, once for the paper and once for the mail. That, including some fetch with a ball and frisbee, seem to tire him out enough right now.  He is so funny at times.  He likes to carry his plush Winnie the Pooh and try to to pick up his ball at the same time.  Occasionally he can do it but usually he just ends up kicking the ball around and chasing it, still holding on to Winnie.

He and I had a day excursion today.  My friend and riding teacher invited Alex and me to go along for her lessons so he could get some socialization.  We live out in the country and don’t have the opportunity unless we make it.   I am happy to say he behaved quite well – far better than I had expected.  He played with a corgi who told him what for,  learned to behave a bit better with cats, and rode quietly in the vehicle.  All in all it’s been a good week.  I’ll post some of the commission work next time around.

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Chillin' with me in the studio

Chillin’ with me in the studio

On Monday, the day didn’t go quite as planned, but in a good way for a change. I started the day out dogless and ended up with a new member of the household.  When we came back from an appointment about noon, he was hiding around a trash can at the base of the driveway and by the end of the day he was in our house.

Supervising was hard work

Supervising art projects is hard work

He appears to be about 4 months old and is smart as a whip.  He knocked down the baby gate we are using to keep him occasionally enclosed in the laundry area once and after that he has respected it.  After one evening, he will willingly go into his crate when he is told to. He learned to fetch his ball and give it to me in less than 10 minutes, once he figured out I would throw it again for him.  One or two noes have been enough to keep him away from things I don’t want him in, although I don’t quite trust that in such a young dog.  He is going to be a big one – far larger than any dog I had thought to get, so he needs to be very well behaved.

We have asked around and no one has claimed him.  Here’s to hoping he can stay.  And I think another dog portrait may be in order.

Ding Dong Dog Again

Ding Dong Dog

Ding Dong Dog

I have been trying to do a few more animal portraits as samples for my esty shop. I found a nice picture Of Ding Dong Dog and decided to use it. The photo was taken when she was still a puppy – not that she ever really grew up. She was over six before she had much sense in any given situation.

It is okay, except I don’t like the head over much.  I have been thinking about what especially bothers me and I have decided that part of the problem is that the overall size is too small to detail the features the way I want.  I think that for full body portraits I will have to go up in size.  Between the ink work and the watercolor shading there is just not enough space to do it all so it ends up dark and a little muddy looking.  What I may try next is just a head/shoulder shot of her and see if that helps.  In the one featuring Perkins the crabby cat a few posts ago, the face was almost half of the painting and it allowed for a lot more subtlety.

But that will have to wait. Insert happy dance here.  Last Thursday I received two (!!!) orders for custom architectural portraits.  I have spent the last couple of days laying out the pencil drawings and am pretty happy with both of them so far.  One is an 8×10 pen and ink of a cottage and the other is a 10×14 of an old barn.  That one will be watercolor.  I usually use the pastels for the portraits, but this buyer specified watercolors like I did for a couple of barns in my etsy store.  I guess variety is the spice of life.  I look forward to spending the next weeks finishing them.  Stay tuned.

Black cats

Black cat

Black cat

I have been thinking about adding pet portraits to my etsy store in time for the Christmas season. I am a bit hesitant to do this as capturing living portraiture is a lot different than working on brick and mortar construction.  I was pleased with the portraits I did of Ding Dong Dog and The World’s Best dog, so I thought if I was able to do a black cat acceptably, I would consider it.  This is not quite done as I think I want to do more on the background, but it is basically finished as far as the cat goes.  Black cats are very hard to photograph well enough to get the details I need to be able to see and this was no exception.  I tried to delineate his body with the pen and ink  and add texture with the watercolors without getting overly bogged down in the details.

I am now working on a pair of black cats and after they are done, I will make my decision.  What do you think of this little guy.

Here are links to some of the other animal portraits.


Ding dong dog

Dakota puppy

After wonder dog Brandy came the golden retriever Dakota, otherwise known as Ding Dong Dog. Where Brandy had sense and a calm disposition, Dakota had….well I don’t know what she had except that I’m not sure if she could have more than one thought at a time in her head. And preferably it was an EXCITING thought.  There wasn’t a mean bone in her body, but at 80 pounds in adulthood, her exuberance made her a bit of a handful.  I had rugs with the fringe chewed off and kitchen chairs where the lower rungs were scarred.  Just the right height for a resting puppy to occupy herself.  Rawhide chew toys that were supposed to last weeks were consumed in 2 days.  She definitely did not have the soft bird mouth that Brandy had.  I wish Cesar Milan had been around then as some of his advice would have been quite helpful.  She finally was able to be calmer when she was about 6 1/2.  We had 30-40 teenagers over for a 2000 New Year’s Eve party and all of that activity with so many people finally forced her into brain overload.  After that she was able to have a bit more self-control.

I don’t normally do portraits of people but this photo just seemed so cute.  And Dakota looks so innocent.  Once again I sketched out the picture in pencil and then inked with the  nib pen.  The only part I am unhappy with is the lower lip.  It should be a little bit rounder.  All in all however, since I haven’t done a person portrait in years I am not too displeased.  After the inking, I started in on the watercolor layers.  I took most of the afternoon alternating with the lower collie picture.  Once again I want to not overdo it.  In some ways now I may be too far in the other direction and not putting enough color in.  It is such a fine line.  I will look at these again tomorrow.

Collie portrait

This collie picture is based on a picture of the pet of a relative.  I love sable collies, having grown up reading books by Albert Payson Terhune.  I wanted a Lad of my own and did have a wonderful, gentle collie for a few years after college.  He, like Brandy, was wonderfully balanced and a joy to be around.  Sadly we lost him too soon.  I am pleased with the balance of colors on him although I may come back an add a little bit more definition to the head with the pen.

I’m not sure where I will go from here.  I have a zoo trip in the offing and perhaps another road trip visiting small southern Indiana main streets.  I do have a few more pet photos.  I haven’t decided whether or not to list these in my Etsy store.  Maybe I should set up some listings for breed pictures.  Doing portraiture on commission is a lot scarier than the home portraits.  Our eyes forgive a lot more in architecture than they do in living portraiture.