Ballad of the dog portraitist

Bob & Boomer

Day 199: Bob & Boomer

Today’s piece is a drawing of Rob’s father, Bob, and his puppy Boomer. I have to laugh when I look at myself doing a drawing of a dog. Jeff Musser made a comment the other day about the balance of art you make to survive and the art you make because you want to. It was an amusing comment that became “the ballad of the dog portraitist” in my notebook later. I love puppies, but I don’t draw them very often. And I haven’t yet been commissioned to draw any (funny how when you leave something out of your portfolio altogether, it tends to fly under the radar. 😉 So it’s good that my first time doing it is for fun, and not for pay.

The thing about portraits is that technical skill isn’t enough to make something art. So if you’re going to draw people or pets, you want to be able to do so in a way that isn’t just a replicate of a ‘brushstroke’ effect you’d get if you messed with the image in Photoshop. You want it to give you a feeling for what the subject is like even if you don’t know them. Well, that’s what I want at least. Guess I shouldn’t deign to speak for the entire art world.

But getting your portraits to technically look like your subject isn’t always an easy task either, so the majority of your attention inevitably rests there during the making of the piece. You’re converting 3-D to 2-D, adjusting color tones to graphite shades in your brain, and trying to sort out if that floating mass of features and curvature is actually a good resemblance, or if it’s just a somewhat convincing doppelganger who might be hired to play your subject in a made for tv movie. It can be especially stressful if you know the person, which is why I prefer to do portraits of strangers.

It may almost be time for me to make the move to water media. Baby steps. Why is it that when you haven’t done something for a long time, you fear you’ve forgotten it? That all the muscle memory has faded away, and the brain cells that composed those pieces so many years ago were probably lost to a few rounds of Peach Kamikazes (delish!), and that we’ll be lucky if anything good happens after a few hours of laborious scribbling.

On that note, I’m off to toast myself for an impending Day 200 with a glass of Query Ger.. gewv..gewurztichimichanga or whatever the heck it is (don’t look at me, I don’t have a German keyboard) while watching Live or Let Die. Woo! See you guys tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Ballad of the dog portraitist

  1. I haven’t done any pencil portraits in such a long time! Used to be my favorite medium. I should try some drawings soon….thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    Is it just me, or are doggies often harder to capture than humans???


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