Last year i picked up a paintbrush for possibly the first time since high school – could that be true? sheesh.
I enrolled in an 8 day class taught by the AMAZING Andrea J Smith who introduced me to different ways of looking at things – the importance of composition & seeing the colours that are in front of you rather than the ones you imagine should be there. So this year, i started to paint portraits of animals who are adored by their owners – Quippy, Peggy, Jethro and Pegs have so-far been painted on pieces of ply in the tradition of the the ‘9 by 5 Impressionist Exhibition’* where artists painted on cigar box lids instead of canvasses.
Choosing to draw sleeping animals is about bearing witness to a time where there is complete relaxation. I especially treasure seeing those relaxed times when their limbs lie where their skeleton takes them; high-reaching dogs stretch their back legs past their nose & Staffies, with their wide barrel bodies can look like they’ve just been tipped over, legs sticking straight out.
With animals, as with people, sleep is a time of trust.
I’m only new to painting & it’s freeing to create something in this way. For the animal portraits I’ve been working from photos & it’s has been good practice in seeing where light falls. Sometimes, after studying an image for hours, I notice a shadow, add it to the painting & watch everything shift. I’ll try some different techniques with Peggy as my model (but being part Jack Russell, she’s rarely still:))
*”During the 1880s a group of artists – principally Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder – established painting camps on the outskirts of Melbourne. They aimed for ‘truth to nature’ and worked in the open air, sketching quickly, applying their paint rapidly – capturing instantaneous impressions. The resulting oil sketches, which they considered to be finished works of art, were exhibited in their groundbreaking 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition, held in Melbourne in August 1889. Many of the works exhibited were painted on cedar cigar box lids (measuring 9 inches by 5 inches – 23 cm x 13 cm). This much-loved group of Australian artists has been referred to as the Heidelberg School, after the site of one of their painting camps at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg. They painted in a variety of locations in Victoria and in New South Wales, including Sirius Cove on Sydney Harbour; and they generally painted larger works, such as Streeton’s iconic Golden summer, Eaglemont 1889 and Roberts’s In a corner on the Macintyre 1895. Many of the works of the Australian Impressionists remain the most iconic and popular images in Australian culture.”