Monday, October 12, 2020

Pet Portraits

 Say "pet portraits" and I roll my eyes.  Let's just say that I've never had much respect for artworks of animals in general.  Why paint lions or tigers?  About all the dogs and cats I'd seen were over-sentimentalized.  And most of the works have about as much life in them as a doorknob.  So when I stumbled across the work of Jennifer Gennari (on Instagram: @jen_art), it was a surprise.  Here was somebody who took a classical painting approach to her subjects and really made them alive.  These aren't "pet portraits", they're portraits of individuals who happen to be dogs or cats, and they have tremendous personality.  Here's a sample:

 


This is a beautiful painting.  The brushwork is lively and loose, but accurate.  The colors have variety.  The dog has personality.  It's well done in every respect.  And as the former daddy to two Shih Tzus, this particular painting resonated with me for both style and subject. 

As I discussed in a previous post, I'd just done a painting in the style of another artist.  One of the things that I learned was that I didn't want to work in that particular tight style.  Jennifer's painting was much more in the way that I'd rather work.  So rather than copy her painting, I thought I'd try her approach using my own reference photos.  And here's what the result was:


That's my little Soozzee, who passed away about a year and a half ago.  I still miss her, along with her sister who's been gone for almost three years.  (Guess what my next painting will be ...)

So what did I learn here?  A portrait is a portrait, regardless of the subject.  A painting is either good, or it's not, again regardless of the subject.  I really like working in a loose, wet-into-wet manner, where the brushstrokes, corrections, mistakes, and process are visible.  And doing an artwork of a critter can be rewarding.