Molly identified

One day a couple of years ago, I was hiking with my own dog and a camera, and crossed paths with a dog walker running a pack of dogs.  They carried on, barely even stopping to sniff my own dog and say hey; but one of them, a little puggle, stopped in front of me on a rocky pedestal, sat, and looked up at me.  I snapped a picture, looking straight down at her,  and off she fled.

After downloading the image, I saw that it was one of those that could make a fun painting.  The sun was shining in from the east, the blue-black of her nose was deep, and her expression bespoke a certain joie de vivre.  I zoomed and cropped and I saw that I was reflected in her eyes, which is a perfect illustration of the dog as our mirror. Must paint!

I never knew anything about her except for what I could gather from the photo.  Her tag read MOLLY and that’s all I had.  The phone number wasn’t legible from the angle of the tag.  It’s not that I want to make a sale; but I just thought that her human(s) may want to know that their dog is being painted and would be displayed on a website or hanging in a show somewhere.  If it was my dog, I would be thrilled to know.

Because painting dogs enables (relies on,  even?) a certain connection with the subject, I have found that my feelings toward that subject have a huge influence on the way they are portrayed.  I once tried to paint a dog that I really didn’t like very much.  It was positively horrible and I had to ditch the effort.  How would not having any information at all influence the portrayal?

molly half finished

Oh, I put down the underpainting and started working on shading and some detail.  Then it was put aside while I started a commission or was inspired by another subject.  During Somerville Open Studios, I worked on it at my workstation to allow visitors to see a portrait being painted, in a non-intimidating manner (they didn’t feel they had to talk to me if I was busy at work!).  Then it was cast aside, again.  This dog that I know nothing about is only half-painted and leaning against a wall while I work on other paintings.  Hmm.

This week, my dog and I were hiking along a trail in a more remote part of the Fells and who comes bounding along but little Molly!  Different dog walker, but I stopped her to ask if the puggle was Molly.  We  ended up talking for a long time on a beautiful trail on a beautiful day, and I was happy to have at least let someone know that there is a portrait of her half-finished out there in the world!

And now I look forward to finishing that!

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