Holiday Greetings From My Creative Cats: Christmas Dogs!

black and yellow labs open their Christmas gifts

Christmas Dogs

I saw them do this, so even though they aren’t my dogs I can still say this is for real!

I paint cats most often because I live with them and I feel confident that I know them well enough to be able to illustrate them accurately.

Not so dogs–I have to borrow other peoples’ dogs to do art of them. I got to know these two pretty well because I also painted a formal portrait of them in Cassie and Tyler, and they belong to a friend of mine.

They did rip the packages open, but the rest of the image comes right out of my imagination!

Lassie’s Portrait is Moving Along!

Lassie's thrid proof.

Lassie's third proof.

Now that I found the right shade of dark green, the background looks much more complete; note that in yesterday’s proof the background was only complete halfway across, but now the entire thing looks done.

Lassie needs to be toned into the background now that its tones are pretty much in place. The darker grass around her keeps photographing darker yet; I’m using my smaller digital and it tends to enhance contrasts, so it’s making her a little lighter and the grass a little darker. Her mid-range tones are there, but she needs to have shadows on her legs and the shadows within her fur completed, then the highlights.

Lassie's face in detail.

Lassie's face in detail.

And now that her tones are nearly correct, I think her expression, the perk of her ears and the tilt of her head are that much more clear as well—I just love that head tilt, and I feel like she’s speaking to me when I look at her.





Lassie’s Portrait Progress

Lassie's portrait, second proof

Lassie's portrait, second proof

Lassie’s portrait is nearly done, though I haven’t been able to photograph her too frequently so I haven’t done the progress updates, but here she is as of Sunday, April 5. The background is half done, moving from left to right, and Lassie will need her last details done, but that will be after the background is completed. Working in pastel, the colors dust over each other, especially with heavy coverage like this background and the contrasting colors. She’ll be a little green for a while until I get the background done, then I’ll work out her final details. I’ll probably post a new update tomorrow after today’s work, especially since it’s nice and sunny today!

A New Portrait: Lassie

Portrait of Lassie, first proof.

Portrait of Lassie, first proof.

A very special collie, I can see by her photos, and with her mom for 15 years, Lassie will have her portrait done.

Lassie’s mom decided to have a scenic background in the portrait, and since they  both enjoyed visiting parks and trails I began with autumn backgrounds; colorful and familiar, they are very popular in canine portraits.

However, Lassie kept blending into the background colors because her fur is primarily amber to brown, the same as the leaves we see, so I chose a late summer background of a rocky little stream and a row of trees in the background. The deep green of late summer shows off her fur to perfection. There is also a tree in the near background, but I need to get a little more detail on Lassie so that I can find the best placement for the tree so it won’t be distracting.

I’ll be posting images as I work, then the final when it’s done.

Now Everyone Can Enjoy Buddy



Buddy’s people loved his portrait, and told me the story of how Buddy came to be a part of their lives. Hearing the story, and knowing a painting of a black lab chewing on a stick in the back yard is something most lab owners can relate to, I asked Buddy’s people if I could have prints made of the portrait to sell to others. They were thrilled! The prints are being prepared now, and the information is on my website under “commissioned dogs“, with Buddy on the top.

Even though Buddy was a gift to his mom and this is her story, he hangs out with his dad, too, especially sprawled on the floor next to the favorite recliner. In Buddy’s mom’s own words…

“When I was age 10 and having a particularly rough time of it, as children will do, my parents surprised me with a black lab puppy who I named Buttons. He continued to be a source of joy, and my very best buddy, until his death at age 11 ½.

“After Jack and I married at age 24, I always pointed to black labs and sighed over missing my old one, and always wanted another, but because of the usual hectic life schedule with overtime at work, etc., we never adopted another lab.

“Jack went yearly to a fund raiser banquet for Ducks Unlimited. They raffled or auctioned off decoys, prints, ceramics, etc. of water fowl, dogs, and outdoor scenes. These always included various Labrador dog items and on occasion, a live Labrador Retriever pup. The first time Jack went to the banquet, he came home and told me he got me a lab. I was beside myself, and hurried to lock away our monster cat* before he brought the dog into the house. Well, he went back out to the car and came back in with a lab print! So after that, every year our standing joke was that I asked Jack to get me a lab when he went to the banquet. Sure enough, every year, he would come home and say he had my lab. And he always brought me a lab print.

“Fast forward to our fifties, and I was having a particularly sad time of it, again. My Dad had serious health problems, and had just been in the hospital 14 times in 4 months.

“So Jack went off to his yearly banquet, and once again, I asked him to bring me a black lab. He came home early that night, and I was very surprised. So he said that there was nothing more he was interested in bidding on. When I asked if he bought anything, he just handed me AKC papers. I, literally, couldn’t stand up, and sunk to the floor crying. Jack brought the pup in, and the poor pup must have thought I was crazy. I sat on the floor, with my arms around him, crying for 30 minutes, with happiness. My dear husband wanted to cheer me up, and he couldn’t have done it better. I wanted to name the pup Buttons after my first black lab. But the pup was too big for a Buttons. He was 13 ½ weeks old and was 32 pounds. He was named the next closest thing—Buddy.

“A postscript to this story: I always prayed that when I ever did get my new lab, that he would not have some very bad habits that Buttons had. I didn’t want him to bark outside, nor to bite people in an attempt to protect me. Well, our Buddy lives up to those virtues. He can walk past the neighbors’ dogs when they are tied up, barking and growling, and he doesn’t even look over. Nothing fazes him (except food!). I would like to add, that I know Buddy really is Buttons come back to me.”

Thanks, Jan, others always enjoy a good dog story! And by the way: *the monster cat is “Tibbie” who can be seen on my website under “commissioned cats“, you can see the attitude just by looking at the portrait.

The Latest Portrait



Here’s the latest version of Buddy-boy’s portrait. Black animals can be difficult, but I’ve had a lot of practice with the number of black cats who’ve shared my life. Here Buddy is in the shadow and in the original photo looks inky black with just hints of highlight. I’ve worked them out here and there, but he keeps ending up looking too shiny, almost plastic. Oh, well, at least the background has worked out well, and the highlights in that give guidance for the ones on Buddy! Still, I love this portrait because it’s so typical of a dog in his backyard, but it’s so special that someone wants to capture that silly moment.