I took the two new pieces of the BAD, Bad Attitude Dog, to Jo at Matter Gallery a few days ago, and that brought up the opportunity to discuss my Dog Philosophy of Art which made me think about it more. I want to share it because it makes me smile and smiling is a good thing, I should do more of it actually. (Remember you can click on any illustration and see it BIG).
I have been painting dogs forever. Yellow dogs, actually. I started way back in college when a fellow artist who was incredibly talented painted this astonishing bad dog that was wonderful, all teeth and attitude. At that time I was in my “chair phase” and I painted red chairs incessantly and photographed chairs too. Chairs stood in for people in my paintings, but I digress. Mark and I fell in love with each other’s work and agreed to swap muses. He started painting chairs and I made off with the dog.
I still have a few very early Mark-inspired yellow dogs in my flat file but that dog had a mind of his own and evolved with time. He has even been a she a few times. Most notably in two pieces I have not photographed but I will—tomorrow. The first piece is Yellow Dog in a prom dress, a stand in for every homely girl that knew , no matter how hard she tried, ugly would be back for her. That’s a sort of universal chick truth, we all think we are homely at that age, doesn’t matter if we are or not, it’s a rite of passage.
That’s when Yellow Dog became Every Dog, as in Everyman? Yellow Dog expresses hope and comfort and all the shining parts of our lives. And yes, I can paint people and paint them well, I just don’t want to. When I put a person in a painting the painting becomes about that person and the story hits a wall right there. Enter the dog, stage right… the work is not about the dog, it’s the bigger picture. There’s room to breathe if that’s a dog in there with you.
Black Dog came along one night in a circus painting a few years ago. He’s sitting on a round drum and there’s a big white horse with a ballerina behind him. He’s obviously got some dog attitude and he’s having a ball. Black Dog evolved to Bad Attitude Dog, he’s not bad as in eat-the mailman bad, but he might scare the mailman just because he can. Black Dog occupies his world, he’s the center of that world and it’s his oyster and that’s it.
Now cats are a whole other story….