Monday, 1 August 2011

Safe And Sound

Safe And Sound - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite

There is no question in my mind that when you look into the eyes of a dog, you are looking into the eyes of a creature with a mind of great complexity; a personality, not a mere 'animal'. This is one of the reasons I am so obsessed with painting eyes correctly and perhaps the part I see most often incorrectly painted. 

There is a huge variation in the size and shape of the eyes of different dog breeds and within those breeds there are still quite large differences. It is vitally important if you want to paint dog portraits accurately, that you pay huge attention to the eyes and if the photograph you have doesn't show them clearly, you simply can't just copy the eyes of another dog. It would be like painting the eyes of one human if you didn't have a clear photo of the person you were painting.

Of course if you are painting a dog no longer alive and there are no clear photographs, you are in somewhat of a dilemma. Frankly, quite often the owner will not have a clear memory of the exact eye shape - although it's surprising if they don't remember the expression. Very often you will get clues from the shape of the head, particularly just above and below the eye. 

I can only urge dog portrait artists to see dogs! Go to dog shows where you will see large numbers of different breeds - look at them - really look at them and see them. Too often people look without seeing.

Well I think that's enough nagging for today! I hope you enjoy this little chihuahua.


Based on a photograph by Daniel Chan at Flickr

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