A couple of weeks ago, my solo show with an intro of my Infinite Spot paintings opened. I managed to have 6 paintings ready, which was half of what I had hoped to have done. It seems my concept was easier dreamed than executed. Better half than nothing!
Last summer when my last cat died I was heartbroken. I wanted to have something to remember him by but didn't want a big cat portrait. I wanted something a bit more sophisticated that would be more personal to me, but would appear to visitors as a piece of abstract art. I have never liked it when someone would say "My dog died. Will you paint him?" There's plenty of awesome pet portrait artists, out there and I don't want to be one of them. What I do want to do is take that animal and make something that captures their essence and reminds the owner of their friend. To visitors it may appear to be a landscape or simply splashes of colors.
Painting Tigger's piece, which I entitled Seventeen for his age at which he died, was incredibly healing for me. I painted Sixteen for my other cat Murfee, but it lacks the feel of the raw emotion that Seventeen has as it was the summer before that Murfee passed. Herein lies the first challenge, to put that emotional loss of a pet into the art. Obviously it is harder when it's not YOUR pet.
Out of the new pieces, Sprawl was my most successful at achieving my goal. From people that were not involved in the exhibit (their pets were not there), I had the best response from this painting. Abstract art is not for everyone, and this concept will not be for everyone either, but I was thrilled that that painting got the attention it did. At a glance it looks nothing like a dog. His owner responded with "it somehow reminds me of him lying in the back yard." Even the title could imply a landscape.
On Watch and Infinite Spot turned out as great animal paintings with a flavor of modern art but they were too literal to really say that's what I was after. Rocky Shore turned out well, though still a bit literal with the silhouette of the black lab being so obvious. Overall I was happy with all of them, but would like to take the concept more towards the direction of Sprawl and Seventeen. With Sprawl I felt more comfortable experimenting because I knew how open the owner was to the concept. I had told my people they had no obligation to buy their piece, but the second challenge in this project is to balance on the thin line of taking artistic license and at the same time overcoming the feeling that I need change my vision to do exactly what the client wants. I have to please my client BUT also I have to have the freedom to be doing the art how I vision it.
The third hurdle is color. Most dogs and cats are brown, white or black and some orange of course. With Seventeen I took liberty to really make him super orange. Rocky Shore of course got beautiful greens and blues for his love of water. And in Sprawl I included a swath of blue for his owner's hair (and also his ball that he had between his paws in so many of his photos). I like to paint with a lot of color, so is something I will continue work on.
I will do commissions. To have your own Infinite Spot painting in honor of a furry friend, email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe process will involve a free consultation to learn more about your pet (a healing process in itself) and to see if this is something you'd like. I charge cost of materials and an hourly rate.