Tag Archives: Dogs

M is for Maltese

Remember When? (Portrait of Misha)     Oil on Linen, 18 x 22 inches

Early this year I received a call from a woman in central Illinois (my home state), who commissioned a portrait of her Maltese who died last year.  She found my website by accident, and fortunately when she looked around she saw an earlier portrait I’d done of the same breed of dog.


Maddie, my first Maltese portrait

The painting was originally going to be a surprise birthday present for her husband, but he was eventually let in to participate in our creative adventure.  And for those of you who haven’t commissioned a work of art, especially a portrait, it really is a creative collaboration.  And fun.

My patron emailed a number of snapshots and described Misha’s personality, energy, favorite activities, and what place she had (top of the pecking order) in the family of three dogs, a cat, and two mature adults.  Based on her input I did three compositional studies in oil for general direction of the work.

These are the three studies, each about 8 x 10 inches

These are the three oil studies, each about 8 x 10 inches, loosely based on images I received from the client

They chose the third approach (jumping up in the air to catch a butterfly in her mouth), with the image of the butterfly seen only in reflection in the water below.  The concept was simplified in the end to make Misha bigger on the canvas, a good decision I believe, more a combination of studies two and three.  Start to finish it was about 8 weeks in the making.  Thanks to Yvonne and Phil, my new friends.

The completed portrait, Misha leaping into the air for a butterfly.

The completed portrait.  I don’t know how I came up with this idea, but in general when I’m painting animals or people, the more different directions their bodies are going the more interesting the pose (in this case, Misha’s front legs are elevated while leaping forward, her head is turned left and pointed up).  The pose is full of enthusiasm, energy and curiosity, qualities that Misha had in spades.


Jessie Don’t !!!  Oil on Linen, 36 x 24 inches


Everybody loved Jessie, excepting the small animals that he regularly ran to ground (or tree).   A tall English Setter, he had the good fortune to have loving owners, a large family of friends in a safe community about a hundred miles north of New York City, and almost unlimited countryside in which to race about.

In keeping with his breed, he was a strong personality with a mind of his own and the energy to tear off in an instant.  Here he is at a moment of distraction: should he heed the voice of his master, or make a run for it?

I had so much fun piling the paint up to indicate the intensity of strong light pouring down on his coat.  It took me nearly an hour to decide exactly where to place the squirrel in that block of green, and how to make the squirrel look like he just realized he was in a heap of trouble!

Good Company

Several weeks ago an artist friend, Susan Donnell Budd, emailed that a painting of mine she owns is in an important exhibition of dog paintings at the Morris Museum, in Morristown, NJ.  Surprised, flattered and thrilled, I found more than 100 works on view celebrating dogs in art from the nineteenth century to the present day, focusing on sporting dogs and hounds, plus dog portraits.

Paintings by British luminaries such as Emms; George, Thomas and Maud Earl (a favorite of mine); Muss-Arnolt; Americans Osthaus, Ettinger and Megargee; among others; and a handful of contemporary artists are represented, including my friend Susan.

The exhibit advisor was William Secord, a NYC gallery owner who specializes in dog paintings and is an expert on the genre; the books he’s authored are must-reads for the dog lover and must-looks for the dog artist willing to learn a thing Imageor two.  My painting in the exhibit, titled “Something Only the Hounds Heard” (20 x 24 inches, oil on linen), depicts a tableau I witnessed one morning when out with the Essex Hunt Club (Peapack, NJ).  The entire field of over a dozen riders and 30-some hounds were resting at a crossroads after an ardent but thwarted chase through early autumn color.  The hounds were still pumped, and I enjoyed watching them mill about: athletes at halftime.  Then of a sudden all eyes and ears snapped towards a nearby wood, yet I hadn’t heard a thing myself (they hear four times as far as we do).  What a moment.  The next day I started sketches for the painting.

The Dog Show: The Art of Our Canine Companions
At The Morris Museum through December 14